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GOP senator says he confronted Trump over Ukraine in August

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as White House continues to push vaccination effort Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Wis.) said he confronted President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE over aid to Ukraine in August and that the president denied tying that assistance to assurances from Kiev that it would investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE.

Johnson told The Wall Street Journal that he learned of a potential quid pro quo or arrangement from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandAmerica's practice of 'pay-to-play' ambassadors is no joke Graham's 'impeach Kamala' drumbeat will lead Republicans to a 2022 defeat GOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' MORE. Johnson said that Sondland told him assistance for Ukraine was connected to Trump's desire to have the country carry out investigations relating to the 2016 elections.

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The senator said he spoke with Trump on Aug. 31 and that on the call, Trump denied that he told officials to connect military aid to the promise of investigations by Ukraine. 

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“He said... ‘No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?'” Johnson told the Journal. 

"Senator Johnson does not recall in any meeting or discussion with the president, or any member of the administration, that the term 'quid pro quo' was ever used," said a Johnson spokesman in a statement.

"Nor does he recall any discussion of any specific case of corruption in the 2016 election, such as Crowdstrike, the hack of the DNC servers, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSchumer: 'The big lie is spreading like a cancer' among GOP America departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump MORE campaign involvement, or Hunter and Joe Biden, during general discussions of corruption, which is endemic throughout Ukraine."

Trump has publicly denied that aid to Ukraine was connected with his desire for the country to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, but he has publicly called for the country to investigate the former vice president. 

The Journal's report follows text messages released by House Democrats on Thursday night that show officials pressuring Ukraine on Biden and signaling that a meeting between the Ukrainian president and Trump could be contingent on an investigation.

"I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” William Taylor, a top official at the U.S.'s Ukrainian Embassy, said in the text messages provided by former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE

Sondland responded by saying he thought Taylor was "incorrect about President Trump's intentions," and that he believed Trump had no intention of a "quid pro quo."

Johnson is supportive of aid to Ukraine and was part of a bipartisan group of senators who wrote to the administration last month asking that the assistance be released. 

Sondland was mentioned in a recently released whistleblower complaint over Trump's dealings with Ukraine. The complaint alleged that Sondland and Volker visited Kiev and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other figures after Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to look into Biden.

The ambassador is also one of the officials House Democrats have said they want to depose

This story was updated at 6:23 p.m.