Chris Cuomo grills GOP senator for pushing ‘false notion of secret societies’

CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday confronted Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (R-Wis.) for pushing a conspiracy theory that an FBI agent and a bureau lawyer with whom he shared texts about President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE were part of a “secret society.”

“Do you have any regrets about getting caught up in all those false notions about secret societies and the like?” Cuomo asked Johnson on "New Day."

“No,” Johnson replied. “What I asked everybody to do is read our very detailed report on our investigation in the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV Keeping up with Michael Avenatti MORE email scandal and the FBI’s investigation of that. Very detailed. An awful lot of questions that have been raised as a result.”

“I hear you on that and I read it, but there’s no secret society,” Cuomo shot back. “You know that.”

“Not my phrase,” Johnson said, saying that he only commented on the issue “one time” and that “others blew it out of proportion.”

GOP lawmakers earlier this year pointed to a series of text messages between the two officials, including one that referenced a “secret society,” as evidence of anti-Trump bias in the FBI.

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Amid the uproar, Johnson said in January that he had an informant who had told Congress about secret “off-site” meetings of the supposed “secret society.” He later acknowledged that it was a “real possibility” that the reference in the text messages had been a joke.

Cuomo again pressed Johnson on Thursday, who stopped short of saying that he did not believe in the secret society theory.

“There may have been off-site meetings, I have information that there were. That’s almost beside the point,” he said, adding that his “main concern” is whether the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was meant to “cover up and exonerate.”

“The truth has to be the side that we all decide to join,” Cuomo responded. “But you don’t want to smear the intelligence community without cause. We know it seems to work for the president, but we hope that people will be better than that.”

“I’m just trying to get to the facts,” Johnson said. “The American people deserve the truth.”