Tapper Presses Sen. Johnson To Condemn Trump On Russia — He Isn’t Biting

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson on Sunday, asking repeatedly whether he was concerned about recent reports tying President Donald Trump to Russia — but Johnson made it clear that he was judging the president “based on his actions” rather than “innuendo.”


Tapper led the segment with questions pursuant to reports from the New York Times and The Washington Post alleging that the FBI had investigated whether the president had worked on behalf of Russia — taking specific interest in reports that Trump had taken his interpreter’s notes following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (RELATED: Sarah Sanders Responds To New York Times Report)

“Do you think — why do you think President Trump is trying to keep these meetings off the books?” Tapper asked.

Johnson replied, “I don’t want to speculate beyond the fact that I know he was burned by leaks in other areas. He was frustrated by it. That may be one explanation but otherwise, I can’t really comment further.”

Tapper pressed again: “Are you okay with the fact that the Kremlin knows more about these meetings than U.S. intelligence and the national security committee?”

But Johnson didn’t budge, saying that he intended to judge the president “on his actions.”

In the end I’m going to judge this president based on his actions. We have increased sanctions. Why did — we have begun providing lethal defensive weaponry to Ukrainians to defend their integrity. The jury will be out on other actions this president will or will not take. In the end you just have to basically judge him on his actions.

We defeated, basically, ISIS and have taken away that caliphate. We were concerned about a precipitous pullout. That’s going to be conditions-based. We can continue to attack ISIS from positions in Iraq. I will wait to see but I’ve seen strong actions by this administration on the part of Russia.

Tapper pressed once more, referencing an earlier segment with Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.

You just heard your colleague senator mark Warner talking about the FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether President Trump worked on behalf of Russia against the interests of the United States. Warner said the president at one point was almost parroting Putin’s policies. Do you have any concerns President Trump may have unwittingly been doing things that would help Russia and hurt the United States?

But Johnson fired right back, accusing Sen. Warner of dealing in innuendo rather than facts. “Yeah, I heard an awful lot of innuendo from Senator Warner, who’s on the intelligence committee and has a lot more knowledge about this than I do. And that’s part of my frustration.”

Johnson went on to call for a speedy conclusion to the Mueller investigation, saying, “I wish the Mueller investigation could come to a conclusion and he could issue his report. I wish the Senate intelligence committee would move more expeditiously in terms of what they’ve found. We’re almost two years into this investigation. I’ve not seen any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. I have seen evidence of collusion between Democrats and Russia. With the Steele dossier. We still don’t have the information on that. So there are a host of questions outstanding on all sides of the issue. We need — the American people need the information on this.”

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