Sen. Ron Johnson met in July with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has circulated unproven claims that Ukrainian officials assisted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, a previously unreported contact that underscores the GOP senator’s involvement in the unfolding narrative that triggered the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.Why might Ron Johnson want to buy into a conspiracy theory that would let Paul Manafort off the hook? Because Manafort’s work with foreigners helped Johnson and Trump’s win Wisconsin in 2016.
In an interview this past week, Andrii Telizhenko said he met with Johnson (Wis.) for at least 30 minutes on Capitol Hill and with Senate staff for five additional hours. He said discussions focused in part on “the DNC issue” — a reference to his unsubstantiated claim that the Democratic National Committee worked with the Ukrainian government in 2016 to gather incriminating information about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Telizhenko said he could not recall the date of the meeting, but a review of his Facebook page revealed a photo of him and Johnson posted on July 11.
A Wisconsin reference in the long-awaited Mueller report provides a glimpse into why Russians trying to help President Donald Trump win the 2016 election may have targeted the state.
Wisconsin and other Midwestern battleground states were discussed during an election briefing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort gave to Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate with ties to Russian intelligence, the report says.
"That briefing encompassed the campaign's messaging and its internal polling data," the report says. "It also included discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota." ….
Investigators found that some of Trump’s aides engaged in contacts with people linked to the Russian regime as the Kremlin was carrying out a wide-ranging effort to intervene in the election using hacked documents and phony social media campaigns, carried out because the Russian government believed it would benefit from Trump winning the election.
In addition to being a likely beneficiary of the Russian propaganda effort in 2016, the Washington Post article noted that Johnson holds positions in the Senate that allow him to know all about Russian/Ukrainian interference in elections. It also allows Russian Ronnie to decide what issues on election hacking should be looked at....and which ones won't be.
The senator’s committee assignments place him at the center of U.S.-Ukraine policymaking: Johnson is chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and vice chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, a bipartisan group formed in 2015 to boost ties between Washington and Kyiv. He is also chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, a panel with investigative powers.It seems like Russian Ronnie needs to make an appearance before Adam Schiff and other House investigators to explain what he knows, and why he continues to try to deflect from the Trumpian sketchiness that surrounds the 2016 and 2020 elections.
More significantly, testimony from two blockbuster witnesses in the impeachment probe place Johnson at episodes that will be critical in assessing whether Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political favors. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky faced pressure to announce investigations into the Bidens and the debunked conspiracy theory that a hacked DNC server was taken to Ukraine in 2016 to hide evidence that it was that country, not Russia, that interfered in the presidential election.
Johnson’s knowledge of key events could make him a person of interest to House impeachment investigators, as well as complicate his role as a juror in a trial by the Senate, if one occurs. There are no rules forcing senators with possible conflicts of interest to recuse themselves during impeachment proceedings, and Johnson, through a spokesman, declined to comment on what he would do.
Throw in the reported coordination between the NRA and Russia in 2015 and 2016, and the reported coordination between the NRA and Johnson’s 2016 campaign, and it seems like RoJo has plenty of reason to want to hide and redirect attention from those connections.
It’s time for the House and national media to fully expose this slug, and to put the pieces together on the amoral money-laundering that is part and parcel for GOP/NRA in both DC and Wisconsin. This goes well deeper than the White House, folks, and it wasn’t just Trump that benefitted from the Russian/NRA/GOP axis.