GOP senator tries to blame whistleblower for damaging US-Ukraine relationship

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Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson thinks the public never should have known about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) claimed this week that the whistleblower who flagged concerns about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival had endangered U.S.-Ukraine relations.

The whistleblower "exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed," Johnson said in an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"This would have been far better off if we would’ve just taken care of this behind the scenes,” Johnson claimed. "We have two branches of government. Most people, most people wanted to support Ukraine. We were trying to convince President Trump."

Trump has been accused of holding up military aid to Ukraine in order to force the country's leadership to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals, according to testimony from multiple State Department officials and the White House itself.

The House is holding an impeachment inquiry to find out more details about that pressure campaign, and whether it warrants articles of impeachment against Trump.

Johnson added that "if this never would have been exposed, that funding would have been restored and our relationship with Ukraine would have been far better than it is today."

Johnson's comments on Sunday appear to be an admission that lawmakers were concerned Trump either did not back support for Ukraine or was withholding support against lawmaker's wishes.

Congressional investigators have already uncovered a mountain of evidence to show that Trump was pushing for Ukraine to investigate his rivals, and had a group of key administration officials who were helping him carry it out.

Career government employees tried to quash the effort, to no avail.

The whistleblower's complaint exposed the existence of that pressure plot. That complaint, along with reported efforts by the Defense Department and Congress to extend the deadline to dispense the aid, eventually forced the Trump administration to release the funding.

Trump allies on Capitol Hill have tried to defend Trump against the current impeachment inquiry by saying that the aid was released and thus no impeachable crime was committed.

However, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, which is leading the impeachment hearings, have made the point that attempted crimes are still crimes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.