‘Complete setup’: Ron Johnson downplays meeting with FBI after they warned he could be a threat of Russia disinformation
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin’s Senator Ron Jonhson is calling a meeting with the FBI last year a “set up,” after they warned him he could be a target of Russia disinformation.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security committee and serves on the Foreign Relations committee, confirmed he met with FBI officials in August but is now calling it purely political and unnecessary since he’s already held several hearings on Russian disinformation.
“I've always believed that was a complete setup to be used exactly as it's being used right now,” Johnson said to CBS 58. “I do not know who actually directed that briefing. It makes me incredibly suspicious.”
The Republican senator touted he’s knowledgeable when it comes to Russia interference and doesn’t believe he needed a briefing from the FBI, who warned he could be a target.
When asked if Johnson thinks the FBI reached out to him for no reason, he said “Yeah. I was in the briefing, and I immediately suspected it.”
The meeting with FBI officials came during a time the senator was investigating Hunter Biden, now President Joe Biden’s son, and his dealings with a Ukraine energy company. Then, Democrats in Congress told the FBI they worried Johnson's investigation was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
“Democrats produced a false intelligence product that they leaked to the media that accused me of soliciting and disseminating Russian disinformation, it's a completely false charge,” said Johnson.
The investigation into Hunter Biden ended last fall and Johnson and others concluded that his position with a Ukrainian firm was “problematic,” but it didn’t influence his father's work under the Obama administration.
The Washington Post also reports the FBI became aware in 2019 that "Rudy Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage President Biden politically ahead of last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter."