U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson continued his vocal defense of President Trump in the face of a House impeachment inquiry and said he had his “own little piece of the puzzle” on Ukraine that he planned to share.
Quizzed Wednesday by WTMJ-AM’s Steve Scaffidi on the impeachment inquiry, Johnson said he viewed the probe as a “continuation” of “a concerted effort… since the day after the election to sabotage this administration” and pivoted to a DOJ investigation into the origins of Robert Mueller’s probe exploring Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“This is, from my standpoint, just a continuation of the left, of Democrats, of the press wanting to take down this president,” the Oshkosh Republican said.
Johnson dismissed the notion that he was personally getting sucked into the probe after he was identified in testimony given by several witnesses as being present for key events in the leadup to a phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that kicked off the impeachment inquiry. But he conceded that as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, he has “been a part of it.”
The Oshkosh Republican has offered a full-throated defense of Trump on a number of occasions since reports of the call with Zelensky came to light over a month ago and continued to defend the president today. But he labeled criticism of a White House official who yesterday testified before congressional investigators as “inappropriate.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian-born U.S. Army veteran who earned a Purple Heart fighting in Iraq and now serves as a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, told impeachment investigators in his opening statement that Trump undermined national security by asking the newly elected president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his family.
That opening statement, which was obtained and released by a number of media outlets on Monday evening, drew the wrath of a number of conservative commentators, including former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston.
In an appearance on CNN before Vindman’s testimony before congressional investigators, Duffy said the White House official seemed “incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense.”
“I don’t know that he’s concerned about American policy,” he continued, adding Vindman “has an affinity, I think, for the Ukraine,” is from there and speaks the language.
But Johnson added his voice to a chorus from Republican lawmakers knocking criticism of Vindman.
“Anybody that dons a uniform, puts themselves into harm’s way, particularly then somebody who’s suffered a battlefield injury, I mean, that’s my definition of a patriot,” he said.
Duffy sent a follow-up tweet yesterday, “Lt. Col. Vindman is an American war hero. As I said clearly this morning on air ‘I salute Mr. Vindman’s service.’ My point is that Mr. Vindman is an unelected advisor, he gives ADVICE. President Trump sets the policy.”
See Vidman’s opening statement here.