Johnson discussed conspiracy theory with former Ukrainian diplomat before Trump call: report

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Second GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policy MORE (R-Wis.), a top ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE in the Senate, spoke with a Ukrainian official about unsubstantiated claims of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election just days before Trump told the Ukrainian President he thought he should investigate former Vice President and top tier 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE.

Former Ukrainian diplomat Andrii Teilzhenko told The Washington Post on Monday that in July at the Capitol Johnson discussed unproven claims that Ukraine worked with the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to dig up dirt on onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortOur Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Bannon trial date set in alleged border wall scam Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention MORE.


"I was in Washington, and Sen. Johnson found out I was in D.C., and staff called me and wanted to do a meeting with me. So I reached out back and said, ‘Sure, I’ll come down the Hill and talk to you,’ ” the former diplomat told the Post.

The conversation comes amid questions over whether U.S. military aid to Ukraine was held up over the president's requests for Ukraine to open criminal investigations into Biden and allegations of interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Johnson previously told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that he was made aware by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union (EU), of an agreement in which Ukraine would appoint a prosecutor to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016" in exchange for the U.S. releasing military spending, a plan Johnson said at the time he opposed.

“At that suggestion, I winced,” the senator told the Journal earlier this month. “My reaction was: Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined.”

The Trump administration's conversations with Ukraine have become the center of an impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats against the president, with the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president chief among lawmakers' concerns.

Johnson's reported involvement with those conversations opens a new avenue for lawmakers who could seek answers from Johnson as to when he knew that military aid could be tied to the prospect of Ukraine's government opening one or more investigations against Democrats.

Johnson's office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on Monday.