One Republican lawmaker is speaking out against what he is portraying as the Obama administration’s attempt to downplay Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the favored presidential nominee.
In an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin accused Democrats of hypocrisy for intense scrutiny on allegations of Russian meddling after what he described as a completely different take in the final months of the 2016 election.
“I have a different perspective on all of this,” he said.
“I was actually in the briefing in September of 2016. We were briefed by (Obama homeland security adviser) Lisa Monaco, (FBI) Director (James) Comey and (Homeland Security) Secretary (Jeh) Johnson and they briefed the big 12 at that point in time.”
The Republican senator said the briefing included evidence that Russia planned to hack into voter files in an effort to influence the upcoming election.
Instead of sounding an alarm, however, he claims the Obama officials called for a message meant to calm fears.
“The entire tone, what they were requesting in that meeting is they had it under control,” Johnson said. “They were dealing with the states and they wanted us to go out and communicate that this was going to be a legitimate election because they had it under control.”
He claimed the Democrat message suspiciously shifted when Trump was elected.
“That was exactly what they were trying to do a couple of months before the election,” Johnson said. “But then basically, from their perspective, the wrong person got elected and all of a sudden this is the greatest threat to our democracy that has ever occurred.”
Because of what he deemed “a fair amount of hypocrisy,” Johnson suggested additional scrutiny will be needed when interpreting the results of any investigation into the Russian conspiracy.
“I would say it is so important to have the public understand exactly what happened,” he said.
Johnson went on to complain that it “has been like pulling teeth under the Obama administration and even currently” for Congress to obtain necessary intelligence information related to the investigation.
“We are the body that investigates and reveals this to the public,” he said. “That public exposure is the only way we are going to restore credibility.”
The manner in which Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller’s team must conduct its investigation, Johnson said, runs contrary to that mission.
“My whole problem with the special counsel (is) once you have a criminal investigation, this thing gets locked up and this thing drags on,” he said. “It’s been over a year now and we still have all these questions and more and more credibility is being questioned.”
During the interview, Johnson indicated that he and Trump believe the “vast majority” of the nation’s intelligence community consists of “patriots” who are “trying to keep our nation safe.”
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