The Ukraine “impeachment inquiry” is “a concerted, and possibly coordinated, effort to sabotage the Trump administration,” wrote Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee Monday.
Johnson serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has made six trips to Ukraine since 2011. In the letter about his knowledge of the administration’s Ukraine policy, Johnson pushes back on the narrative being peddled by witnesses in the Democrats’ latest partisan impeachment efforts.
“I view this impeachment inquiry as a continuation of a concerted, and possibly coordinated, effort to sabotage the Trump administration that probably began in earnest the day after the 2016 presidential election,” Johnson wrote to Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Devin Nunes of California.
Johnson explains to Jordan and Nunes that he believes “a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style,” specifically calling out Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
“It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson’s knowledge of events related to the impeachment inquiry is significant. The senator even attended President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration in Ukraine. His letter contradicted several key elements of testimony offered by witnesses testifying in the proceedings.
Gordon Sondland, for example, who serves as the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and is set to testify publicly this week, said in a private deposition that President Donald Trump ordered a delegation that included Sondland, Johnson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and former diplomat Kurt Volker to work with Rudy Giuliani on matters involving Ukraine during a May 23 meeting. Yet Johnson says no such request was made during the meeting.
“I have no recollection of the president saying that,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson also notes that he was unaware of any arrangement in which Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainians launched an investigation into the Biden family. In fact, Johnson writes that when the senator confronted the president on whether the military aid was being withheld until Ukraine took a requested action, as Sondland told Johnson, Trump firmly denied the accusation.
“I asked him about whether there was some kind of arrangement where Ukraine would take some action and the hold would be lifted,” Johnson wrote. “Without hesitation, President Trump immediately denied such an arrangement existed,” adding that the president used multiple expletives.
Johnson asserted throughout the letter and to Ukrainian officials that Trump took issue with the rampant corruption engulfing Ukraine and chose a different approach from many in Congress and in the administration. The senator urged members in the administration to either work to carry out the president’s foreign policy agenda, since the president is constitutionally afforded the right to conduct U.S. foreign policy, or use their platforms to try to persuade the nation’s chief executive to amend his position, or resign.
“If those working for the president don’t feel they can implement the president’s policies in good conscience, they should follow Gen. James Mattis’ example and resign,” Johnson asserted. “If they choose to do so, they can then take their disagreements to the public. That would be the proper and high-integrity course of action.”
The public portion of the impeachment proceedings began last week with the testimony of three witnesses who failed to identify a crime committed by the president. Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine whom Trump fired in May, was asked point-blank whether Trump committed any crimes or engaged in bribery.
“Do you have any information regarding the president of the United States accepting any bribes?” Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah asked.
“No,” Yovanovitch replied.
“Do you have any information regarding any criminal activity that the president of the United States has been involved with at all?”
The impeachment proceedings were officially opened in late October when Democrats rubber-stamped rules for impeachment without a single Republican vote. Since then, Democrats have continued to hold closed-door hearings in secret and bar Republicans from using the information gather in private depositions in public questioning.
The rules of impeachment passed by House Democrats are also stacked against Trump, prohibiting Republicans from subpoenaing witnesses or evidence without Democratic approval. These rights were granted to the minority party in both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings.