Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was laughed at Thursday evening during a debate with his Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, when he suggested that the FBI had set him up in order to humiliate him on the issue of Russia.
Mediaite notes that Barnes and Johnson were asked about the ongoing attack by Russia in Ukraine. Barnes said the United States should continue to support Ukraine and then referenced something Johnson had said.
In April 2021, reports circulated saying the FBI warned Johnson he may be targeted by Russia as part of an influence operation. Johnson conceded last year that the meeting had taken place.
“Regarding reports that I received an FBI briefing warning me that I was a target of Russian disinformation, I can confirm I received such a briefing in August of 2020,” Johnson told the Washington Post.
Barnes noted the briefing during the debate.
Barnes then added:
That led Johnson to respond:
The led to laughter among the audience, but Johnson only doubled down, suggesting that the FBI was corrupt and he was working to “uncover and expose” that corruption.
Did the FBI “set up” Sen. Johnson when he agreed to travel to Russia on July 4, 2018, as Roll Call reported at the time?
One of the Republican senators back from a trip to Moscow is suggesting that Congress went too far in punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“I’ve been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” Sen. Ron Johnson said in an interview with the Washington Examiner published over the weekend. “We’ve blown it way out of proportion.”
“We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively,” the Republican from Wisconsin said.
And yet Johnson wonders why anyone would dare call him a Russian asset.