After spending his Fourth of July holiday watching ballet in St. Petersburg and visiting with Russian officials in Moscow, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is back in the states to say that we’ve been too hard on Vladimir Putin. As Roll Call reports, Johnson stated that the United States had gotten way, way too upset about the fact that Russia stole information from one campaign, fed it to the other, created hundreds of false media sites, disseminated thousands of false social media posts, sent Russian agents to conduct fake “grassroots” protests on American soil, and invested millions in targeted ads over Facebook, Google, and other services.
Johnson: We’ve blown it way out of proportion.
In an interview with right-wing paper the Washington Examiner, Johnson stated that the Russian interference into the election was “not the biggest threat to our democracy,” and that the Senate has “gone too far” in sanctioning Russia for meddling in U.S. elections. And, like other Republicans who insist on keeping sanctions on Cuba for the last 53 years, Johnson says that the sanctions against Russia “are not working.” Those words are certainly appreciated.
Johnson’s remarks to the Examiner were highlighted by Russian state media.
Not every member of the Republican Moscow Brigade seemed that thrilled with their Russian hosts. Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy said that Russian tactics reminded him of the Mafia, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is “a bully” who “started out in the world as a smartass and worked his way up.” Which is a type that should be all too familiar to many within the Republican Party. And speaking of, Donald Trump continues to push the point that “Putin denies it” when asked about campaign interference, taking Trump all the way back to Square Minus One when it comes to accepting the conclusion of both US intelligence agencies and the Senate investigation.
As Washington Post columnist Matt O’Brien points out, Johnson’s comments fall in the extremely convenient category.
O’Brien: A member of the party that benefitted from Russian interference is now telling us that Russian interference isn’t that big a deal … right after he visited Russia.It’s times like these that I remember that Russia also hacked the RNC but didn’t release anything.
Johnson says that he went to Russia to deliver a message, and he seems to have done that. Only it’s Putin’s message, and he’s not just bringing it back to the United States, he’s making sure his delivery gets verified for Putin.