Jake Tapper Confronts Ron Johnson on Unmasking: ‘Your Work Is Being Cited as Evidence for This Crackpot Conspiracy Theory’
After pressing Ron Johnson (R) over the firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick, CNN’s Jake Tapper kept up the pace by questioning the Wisconsin senator on the revelations of Michael Flynn’s unmasking.
Tapper began this part of the interview by noting that it’s “not uncommon” for administration officials to ask for the name of Americans flagged in U.S. intelligence reports, just as Flynn was when investigations were being conducted on Russia’s 2016 election interference. Since Johnson requested the list of Obama officials who unmasked Flynn, Tapper asked the senator if he would also call for the release of Flynn’s conversations with former Russian ambassador to the U.S, Sergey Kislyak.
“Not yet. We just need to get our investigation in this particular aspect,” Johnson answered. He went on by changing topics to how his staff looked through FISA documents and found that the FBI knew that Christopher Steele’s dossier was an element of Russian disinformation.
“There is an awful lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered and it’s going to require transparency, yes,” Johnson continued. “So I am all for transparency. I think the American people need to, deserve to, and need to hear the full truth. That’s what I’m going to try and get.”
Tapper tried to get things back on track by asking Johnson if he’ll push to declassify the reports on the justifications for Flynn’s unmasking. When Johnson moved the conversation toward intelligence leaks and the FBI’s handling of the Russia case, Tapper asked him to elaborate on what Trump has been calling “ObamaGate.”
“What are you alleging by the Obama Administration?” Tapper asked. “I have yet to see any facts at all supporting this grand conspiracy that the Trump administration is pushing.”
“It’s because a lot of members of the media have not been asking the questions and haven’t been looking,” Johnson answered. “Let’s face it, there were selective leaks that ramped up this entire Russian collusion hoax, and it was a hoax. Who’s the recipients of these leaks? Eighteen different outlets.”
“I don’t know what you mean by a hoax,” Tapper interjected while Johnson decried the “mini-constitutional crisis” that was “spun up” by media leaks.
“Senator, it’s not a hoax that the Russians attempted to interfere in the 2016 election,” Tapper rebutted. After Johnson once again tried to pivot to the Steele dossier, the CNN host acknowledged the point, but noted that “you’re suggesting the entire Russian interference campaign was a hoax and it was not.”
“The Senate Intelligence Committee run by a Republican has concluded it was not,” Tapper said. “Every single inspector general of the intelligence community has said it was not a hoax; the Russians were trying to interfere.”
The conversation eventually got back to unmasking once Tapper asked Johnson whether he was investigating the Trump administration’s use of the practice for possible abuses. Tapper also asked Johnson how he felt about how his work has been used to fuel a “crackpot conspiracy theory” of Obama administration crimes.
Watch above, via CNN.
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