Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)’s probe into conspiracy theories about Joe Biden will damage Joe Biden, Johnson told a Wisconsin news outlet on Tuesday.
“I just don’t think Joe Biden ever should have run for president,” Johnson told Wisconsin radio station WCLO in a mostly-overlooked interview, before suggesting that he believed Biden was suffering from dementia.
“But what our investigations are uncovering, I think, will reveal this is not somebody we should be electing president of the United States,” Johnson added.
The comments suggest that Johnson’s probes are intended to hurt Biden’s election bid, and feed the flames of allegations that the Wisconsin senator is using his position on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee as a vehicle to attack the Biden campaign. Reports from the two investigations — one into unfounded allegations around Biden’s foreign policy work involving Ukraine and another into the Obama-Trump transition — could be released as soon as next week.
Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Monday that “In about a week we’re going to learn a whole lot more of Vice President Biden’s fitness for office.”
The remarks drew a harsh response from Biden campaign rapid response Director Andrew Bates, who accused Johnson of admitting “the true purpose of this sham: to bail out Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.”
“Senator Johnson couldn’t have brought about a more decisive collapse of his own credibility or his Kremlin-infected smear campaign if he had deliberately planned it,” Bates said in a statement. “Johnson has spent months diverting his committee away from any legitimate oversight of the failed pandemic response that Trump intentionally crippled for his own optics, dismissing the coronavirus threat by saying, ‘death is an unavoidable part of life.'”
“What did he determine was more pressing than the worst public health crisis in 100 years, and the worst economic crisis in 90 years?” Bates added. “Abusing taxpayer dollars to underwrite a foreign attack on our very sovereignty — an attack predicated on a conclusively refuted, hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory that depends on Sen. Johnson himself being corrupt, given his official endorsement of firing Viktor Shokin.”
A Johnson spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Last month, Johnson told another local radio show that his investigation would “certainly” help President Trump secure re-election.
Johnson has been investigating allegations that the real foreign interference in 2016 was not from Russia, but Ukraine, looking at whether the Democratic National Committee conspired with the Ukrainian government to hurt the Trump campaign and at debunked allegations that Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to protect his son from investigations in the former Soviet Republic.
The Wisconsin senator admits to having taken information from former Ukrainian Embassy staffer Andrii Telizhenko as part of that probe. Telizhenko has been accused of being a sieve for Russian disinformation to flow into Johnson’s probe and into the U.S., an allegation that he denies.
Separately, Johnson is examining allegations around the so-called “unmasking” of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Conservatives have expressed outrage that top Obama administration officials asked to see the redacted name of a U.S. citizen picked up in intelligence reports about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee chair has faced pushback from within his own caucus on the investigations.
Last month, Acting Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) rejected a request for information from Johnson.
“We appreciate your desire to pursue your investigative work and look forward to
hearing how your findings contribute to the conclusions of U.S. Attorney John Durham, the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s publicly released reports, and the five volumes of relevant investigative work that this Committee has publicly released,” the senators wrote.