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Senator says he has firsthand info on events leading to impeachment inquiry, his role’s about to expand

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Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., may be taking on a much bigger role in the coming days in the Democratic Party’s dog and pony impeachment show trial.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Johnson spoke about solving our differences at the ballot box and not through impeachment and warned about weakening executive privilege, saying it will be “very difficult for future presidents to have a candid conversation with a world leader.”

Johnson defended Trump’s actions in Ukraine, telling host Chuck Todd the president “wanted to find out what was happening in 2016 and how the false narrative about Russian collusion with his campaign occurred.”

“I’m sympathetic with President Trump as he has been tormented from the day after his election,” Johnson said of the Democrats’ effort to take out the president. “A quick little quote from the lawyer of the whistleblower, this is ten days after his inauguration: ‘Coup has started. First of many steps, rebellion, impeachment will follow ultimately.'”

“If this whistleblower is to be lionized by The Washington Post, maybe we ought to take a look at who he hired,” he added. “He could have hired an unbiased officer of the court. Instead he hired Mark Zaid … that’s not an unbiased officer of the court. There’s something going on here … it’s dividing this country.”

Looking to shift the focus away from Trump being targeting from the very beginning by Democrats, Todd cited a quote from Johnson in Nov. 2016 about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server — this being before the election:

“She purposely circumvented the [law,] this was will until concealment and destruction… I would say, yes, high crime or misdemeanor.”

“How should I not — how should viewers not look at what you are doing here and you’re just reacting as a partisan, that if Trump were a Democrat you’d be ready to convict him?” Todd asked.

“Understand, that is before the election,” Johnson explained. “I am trying to hammer out the political differences before an election. We’d been investigating the whole Hillary Clinton email scandal, the exoneration of her — that was not an investigation to really dig out the truth.”

Todd gleefully noted that Johnson was complaining about Democrats talking about impeachment in the days after President Trump was elected, only to be talking about impeachment of Clinton before the election.

“I was just pointing out what Hillary Clinton had done and I was hoping that people would not elect her and they didn’t and that’s I think, one of the main reasons she was not elected is what she did with that private server,” he said. “Which was completely intentional. It baffles me that she was not indicted, quite honestly.”

Todd countered to press his point that Johnson was talking impeachment before an election with “no evidence that anything that happened to that server somehow got into foreign hands when we actually had evidence regarding what happened at the DNC.”

It was at this point that Johnson indicated that his role in the impeachment inquiry is about to expand.

“I got a letter last night from Jordan and Nunes asking for, basically, my telling of events. I’ll be working on that today. I will lay out what I know,” Johnson said, before clarifying that he’ll not be called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.

Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who are leading the Republican effort in the Democrat-led impeachment investigation, requested the senator to share any firsthand information he may have that is relevant to the inquiry.

“According to information obtained during the Democrats’ ‘impeachment inquiry’ and news reports, you have firsthand information about facts at issue in this inquiry,” they wrote in the letter, according to The Hill.

As noted in the letter, Johnson was part of the U.S. delegation to Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelensky’s inauguration, and took part in a debriefing by that delegation of Trump. Johnson also had conversations with several witnesses, including acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordan Sondland, who will testify this week.

“You also participated in phone calls with Ambassador Sondland and President Trump, and a meeting with President Zelensky, Senator Murphy and Ambassador Taylor in Kiev on September 5. These events are relevant to the ‘impeachment inquiry,’” the letter said.

Tom Tillison

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