- On Friday, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Senator Ron Johnson told reporters at an event in his home state of Wisconsin that President Donald Trump blocked him from telling the Ukrainian president that US aid was on its way, fueling the quid pro quo argument at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
- But on Sunday, as few Republicans appeared on morning shows to defend Trump, Johnson had a fiery debate with NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.
- Not only did Johnson defend Trump, but he seemingly reversed his stance from what he told his constituent, saying that members of the FBI and the CIA are conspiring to bring down the president.
- When pressed by Todd, Johnson said he “winced” when he learned of Trump’s interactions with Ukraine because he felt that the connection between withholding US aid and appealing for an investigation into the 2016 election could create wrongful suspicion of the president.
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The Sunday morning slate didn’t have very many defenders of President Donald Trump.
There were no appearances by any members of the Trump administration on the Sunday morning political shows, but a few GOP members did make it on the air, including Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. In a fiery back-and-forth with NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, Johnson reversed the stance he held at a constituent event in his home state on Friday.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Trump blocked Johnson in August from telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that US aid was on its way, at the same time that the president was appealing to Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 contender Joe Biden.
“I was surprised by the president’s reaction and realized we had a sales job to do,” Johnson said, indicating that the president was using the aid package as a bargaining tool for his political purposes. “I tried to convince him to give me the authority to tell President Zelensky that we were going to provide that. Now, I didn’t succeed.”
On “Meet the Press,” Johnson instead pushed a conspiracy theory that members of the FBI and CIA are conspiring to bring down Trump with investigations into his conduct and that the press was pushing a false narrative that Trump was digging up dirt on his 2020 opponent.
In a heated exchange, Todd called Johnson’s arguments “Fox News conspiracy theories” and said “Please answer the question that I asked you instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you’re not criticizing him […] What made you wince?”
“Because I didn’t want those connected,” Johnson replied, referring to the withholding of military aid and the appeal to investigate the 2016 election. “But here’s the salient point of why I came forward. When I asked the president about that, he completely denied it. He adamantly denied it, he vehemently, angrily denied it.”
Johnson also previously told The Wall Street Journal that a US ambassador to the EU said Trump’s withholding of aid to Ukraine was directly connected to his interest in having Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, investigate certain matters – which Trump denied.
Watch the full exchange below: