Senator Ron Johnson is up to his ears in all of the circumstances surrounding Donald Trump's impending impeachment. Even though he was not part of the official delegation, for example, he still attended Ukrainian President Zelenskiy's inaugural, and is apparently good friends with him, which casts doubt in my mind on whether or not Zelenskiy is the anti-corruption crusader everyone claims he is.
With that in mind, his interview with Chuck Todd is something to behold, and for once, Todd at least made an attempt to hold him to the truth more often than not.
On the question of whether Trump should have held back and not tweeted at Ambassador Yovanovitch (Of COURSE he should have), Johnson said, "Well, I thought it was kind of interesting when President Trump was going to the White House leaving Atlanta and people were talking about his behavior. He said, 'My behavior is caused by you, the constant torment, the investigation.' So, listen, I would prefer he not provide that type of tweet, but my concern, and let me start with something else here, Chuck."
In other words, blame and deflect when there's really nothing one can say. Got it. The "something else" Johnson wanted to talk about is how we "solve our political differences at the ballot box, not in the streets or through impeachment."
What a clever way to reframe a Constitutional imperative. Never mind that if Trump had been successful in extorting a foreign power to interfere in our election, there would be no way to trust the results of the election as a method of solving our political differences.
And again, when confronted with Trump's smear of Ambassador Yovanovitch's reputation via Rudy Giuliani & Associates, Johnson pivots to complaints about leaks and the "damage being done to our country through this entire impeachment process." Oh, if only they cared so much when Bill Clinton was President, right?
"Having this all come out into public, has weakened [the U.S./Ukraine] relationship, has exposed things that didn't need to be exposed," Johnson complained. You mean, like extortion in order to get some dirt on a political opponent? Yeah, that's ugly stuff, don't want to expose that rot, do we?
“Why was the president so insistent that President Zelensky had to be public about announcing an investigation?" Chuck Todd interrupted. "And I ask that because, you know, one of the foundations of due process in this country is actually not to publicly announce who you're investigating, because you may be investigating somebody who's innocent. And yet the president wanted Ukraine to violate one of our great protections in the rule of law and publicly announce an investigation regardless of whether there is guilt or not."
Oh, look! Truth in the form of a question. One of the central themes of the impeachment inquiry that should pain all of us is that after the Ukrainian people elected someone THEY believe is anti-corruption, the country that purports to respect the Rule of Law and encourages Ukraine to also build institutions around it is actually trying to corrupt them!
Johnson's answer is predictable: "I'm not sure that's the case." It is ABSOLUTELY the case, it's why he withheld the aid and it's also right there in the July 25th summary of the phone call!
But there is always more:
Oh, well. Trump denied everything. Quelle surprise. And to be quite clear here, Trump had no right to withhold funding that Congress had already deemed appropriate to send to Ukraine. None whatsoever. It's also interesting that again he deflects away from the ACTUAL question into this nonsense about a conversation with Trump. As for the timeline, August 31st is over a month after the phone call and the aid is still being withheld.
Question and deflection, over and over again. It's annoying, and apparently it annoyed Chuck Todd too.
After Johnson finished his whining, Todd shot back, "You seem to blame this on everybody but the President. It was the President's actions -- "
Johnson interrupted, "I'm not blaming anyone, Chuck."
"You are! You're blaming everybody else for the reason we are in this situation," Todd insisted. "Isn't the President's own behavior which raised all these yellow and red flags, isn't that why we're here?"
I'll bet you can guess where it went from here. Yep, back to poor, tormented Trump, the whistleblower and the whistleblower's lawyer. Johnson misrepresented that too, but Todd went for the truth again!
"I'm going to quote from you, sir. November 1st, 2016. You're asked about Hillary Clinton," he said. "And you said this before the election. 'She purposely circumvented the law. High crime or misdemeanor.'"
"You were talking about impeachment before the election with Hillary Clinton," he pointed out. "How should I not -- how should viewers not look at what you're doing and you are just reacting as partisan that if Trump were a Democrat you'd be ready to convict him?"
Wow, score ten for Chuck Todd on the truth scale.
'But her emails' is his answer, of course. So Chuck Todd once again hit him with the question of why it was okay for him to say impeachment ahead of the 2016 election, but not attorney Mark Zaid. And by the way, Johnson was so wrong about Zaid that the whistleblower's attorney had to weigh in:
Senator Johnson is flat out wrong. The client hired ME. I’m the lead attorney and I brought on Mark Zaid to augment MY team five weeks AFTER the complaint was filed. I did this because I know and trust Mark and given his proven expertise in the legal field. #FactsMatter
— Andrew P. Bakaj (@AndrewBakaj) November 17, 2019
When Todd pressed a second time on the original question, Johnson had the nerve to say he wasn't talking about impeachment. Oh, really? High crimes and misdemeanors isn't a term everyone tosses around every day unless they are referring to that section of the United States Constitution.
Of course Ron Johnson is a pure partisan, and of course he wouldn't give one damn if his partisan, fascist leader indicted Hillary Clinton on some bogus charge just to scratch the itch of the misogynists who worship at Trump's altar.
But at least Chuck Todd served up some truth instead of letting it all go the way he usually does.