- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2019

NBC anchor Chuck Todd on Sunday accused Sen. Ron Johnson of engaging in “Fox News conspiracy propaganda” after the Wisconsin Republican blasted efforts to sabotage President Trump and raised questions about Ukraine’s role in 2016 election interference.

“I have no idea why a Fox News conspiracy propaganda stuff is popping up on here. I have no idea,” said Mr. Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

His “propaganda” allegation came as Mr. Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, cited his concerns about the extent to which leaks from the intelligence community regarding the Ukraine have fueled the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

During the combative interview, Mr. Johnson said the president’s foes constructed “this false narrative that resulted in him being set up by [former FBI Director] James Comey.”

“Then he has this special counsel appointed that has hampered his entire administration and now once that was proven false, he would like to know, and I would like to know, and I know his supporters would like to know, where did this all come from?” asked the Wisconsin Republican. “Who planted that false story? Who leaked?”



An angry Mr. Todd jumped in with, “Sen. Johnson, please! Can we please answer the question that I asked you instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you’re not criticizing him?”

Mr. Johnson, a supporter of military aid to the Ukraine, said he was upset after hearing over the summer allegations that Mr. Trump was seeking to condition the aid to an investigation into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

When Mr. Johnson asked the president about a quid pro quo, he said “he completely denied it. He adamantly denied. He vehemently, angrily denied it.”

“He said, I’d never do that,” Mr. Johnson said. “So that is the piece of the puzzle I’m here to report today. Unlike the narrative of the press, that President Trump wants to dig up dirt on his 2020 opponent, what he wants is an accounting of what happened in 2016. Who set him up? Did things spring from the Ukraine?”

He cited a 2017 article in Politico saying that “Ukrainian officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office.”

“There is potential Ukrainian interference in 2016,” Mr. Johnson said. “That is what Trump wants to get to the bottom of.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said afterward it was “wild, the lengths to which Republicans are going to try to avoid being criticized by this president.”

Ron’s a good friend, but I’m deeply scared by the positioning that Republicans have chosen to take. That interview was just a giant green light to the president of the United States to continue to solicit foreign interference in U.S. elections,” Mr. Murphy said.

Mr. Johnson argued that, “I want to get to the truth. I’m not defending the president. I’m not here to denounce him either.”

“[T]he reason he had very legitimate concerns and reservations about Ukraine was first, corruption — generalized, it’s endemic, we all know that — and then specifically about election interference in the 2016 election,” Mr. Johnson said.

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