A month after their explosive confrontation over impeachment and Ukraine, Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) were back at it on Sunday when Todd pointedly told Johnson that he seemed to “blame this on everybody” but President Trump.
Johnson, who has previously said it made him “wince” when U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland said President Trump would release military aid to Ukraine when Ukraine moved to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016,” told Todd that he understood why Trump wanted an investigation.
“What I also know is when I sprung that on President Trump in my August 31st phone call,” Johnson said on Meet the Press, “he completely denied there was any kind of arrangement—Ukraine had to do something before he released that funding.”
Johnson went on to further claim that during that late-August call with Trump, the president was “already leaning towards providing that funding on August 31” before grousing about the delay being made public.
“My guess is that if this never would have been exposed, that funding would have been restored and our relationship with Ukraine would have been far better than it is today,” the Republican senator declared.
“Again, you seem to blame this on everybody but the president,” Todd snapped back, prompting Johnson to retort: “I’m not blaming everybody else!”
“You are! You are blaming everybody else for the reason why we're in this situation other than the president,” the NBC anchor exclaimed. “Isn’t the president’s own behavior, which raised all of these yellow and red flags, isn’t that why we’re here?”
The Wisconsin senator said he was “sympathetic” to Trump because he “has been tormented” since right after he was elected, causing him to take aim at the impeachment inquiry whistleblower’s lawyer for tweeting about a “coup” days after Trump’s inauguration.
Todd, however, noted that while Johnson was fuming over early calls for Trump’s impeachment, the Republican lawmaker himself was pushing for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s impeachment days BEFORE the 2016 election.
“Understand, that is before an election,” Johnson responded, defending his 2016 remarks. “I am trying to hammer out the political difference before an election. By the way, I completely agree with that. We had been investigating the whole Hillary Clinton email scandal, the exoneration of her, you know, that was not an investigation to really dig out the truth.”