GOP senator says he doesn't remember signing 2016 letter urging 'reform' of Ukraine prosecutor's office

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP seeks up to 0 billion to maximize financial help to airlines, other impacted industries Dr. Rand Paul's prescription for combating the coronavirus crisis Senate passes House's coronavirus aid bill, sending it to Trump MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters Thursday he did not recall signing a letter urging reforms in the office of the Ukrainian prosecutor President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE has alleged former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFighting a virus with the wrong tools Trump bucks business on Defense Production Act Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing MORE improperly had ousted, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Trump has repeatedly alleged Biden used his office to have Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin fired and prevent him from investigating a gas company whose board included Biden’s son Hunter.

CNN on Thursday reported that three Republican senators, including Johnson, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenators pen op-ed calling for remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on Coronavirus stimulus talks hit setback as crisis deepens MORE (R-Ohio) and then-Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Ill.) signed a 2016 letter urging “urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s office and Judiciary.”

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"I send out all kinds of oversight letters ... I don't know which 2016 oversight letter you're referring to so I will look at that and then we'll issue a press release, statement, or something — but I don't engage in hypocrisy. I'm looking at getting the truth,” Johnson said when asked about the letter.

Johnson did acknowledge the letter in an interview Thursday on WIBA's "The Vicki McKenna Show," saying "The whole world, by the way, including the Ukranian caucus, which I signed the letter, the whole world felt that this that Sholkin wasn't doing a [good] enough job. So we were saying hey you've ... got to rid yourself of corruption."

In the first interview, Johnson also said there was no misconduct in Trump’s call on Thursday for China to investigate Biden and his son.

"If there's potential criminal activity, the President of the United States is our chief law enforcement officer. We have proper agreements with countries to investigate potential crimes so I don't think there's anything improper about doing that,” he said.

Even as he endorsed investigations by both China and Ukrainian officials, Johnson denied the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the heart of a whistleblower complaint represented Trump pressuring Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

"I look at that transcript and I go, it's Trump being Trump," Johnson said, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

In a statement, Andrew Bates, rapid response director for the Biden campaign, told The Hill: "“The United States, the European Union, the I.M.F., and Ukraine's leading reform figures were all pressing for Viktor Shokin to be removed from office because he was one of the biggest obstacles to fighting corruption in the entire country. This was a bipartisan goal in Congress as well."

"It is unfortunate that Senator Johnson seems to have forgotten a time when he put the country's values over his own politics, but perhaps re-reading his well-articulated words whole-heartedly agreeing with Joe Biden's push to move the anti-corruption cause in Ukraine forward will help him on his journey back to intellectual consistency," Bates added.

Updated: 9:35 p.m.