Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) returned from visiting Moscow with several of his colleagues calling the U.S. response to Russian election interference “overblown”.
“I’ve been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” Sen. Ron Johnson said in an interview with the Washington Examiner published over the weekend. “We’ve blown it way out of proportion.”
“We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively,” the Republican from Wisconsin said.
Johnson questioned whether the sanctions are working as intended and also said the Senate’s sanctions might have been so extreme that President Donald Trump has lost room to negotiate on separate matters.
Johnson elaborated on his position in a Monday interview with WOSH-AM radio, in which he said there were more serious threats.
“We’ve had briefings on this — it’s very difficult to really meddle in our elections. It just is. These are locally run, it’s almost impossible to change the vote tally. My concern would be violating the voter files, but we have those issues anyway and there are plenty of controls on that,” he said. “You know from a standpoint of using social media we spent a couple of billion dollars on the last election, they maybe spent a couple hundred thousand.”
The senator’s comments were reportedly picked up by Russian state media.