Johnson tries to draw distinction between supporting and endorsing Trump
June 19th, 2016
12:08 PM ET

Johnson tries to draw distinction between supporting and endorsing Trump

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) Chairman, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, joined CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash, to discuss endorsing/supporting Donald Trump, the letter he penned to Facebook and more.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Brooke Lorenz- Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com
 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS
 

Johnson on delegate uprising “anything can happen”: [BASH] And joining me now is Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.  First question, senator, is do you support the idea that convention delegates should be able to vote their conscience, be unbound if they are currently bound to vote for Donald trump? [JOHNSON] Well, good morning, Dana.  I'm not a delegate.  I really do not know.  Nobody can really predict what's going to be the outcome of our nomination process.  I know there's a number of movements afoot. I'm not part of that process.  I have my own race here in Wisconsin.  I’m going to concentrate on the areas of agreement, growing our economy, strengthening our military, defeating ISIS, securing our borders, making sure that we have judges appointed to the Supreme Court.  So those are the issues, you know, economic growth so that we have - create better opportunities for the American public for the folks here in Wisconsin.  I mean, that’s the think I’m going to concentrate on.

Johnson on if he will support Donald Trump: [BASH] According to a paper from your home state you said just before an event last month "I’m going to certainly endorse the Republican nominee and obviously it looks like that will be Mr. Trump." Have you endorsed him? [JOHNSON]  It has been my intention to support the Republican nominee.  And again nobody can predict the outcome of this thing.  So I think things remain reasonably uncertain.  But is my intention to support – [BASH]  So are you endorsing Mr. Trump right now? [JOHNSON]  I intend to support the Republican nominee and certainly support the areas of agreement, growing our economy, defeating ISIS, strengthening our military, securing our border.  I mean, those - no two people agree 100 percent on everything.  So I'll support the areas of agreement? [BASH]  Support but not endorse, what's the difference? [JOHNSON]  Well to me endorsement is a big embrace.  It basically shows that I pretty well agree with an individual on almost everything.  That's not necessarily be the case with our nominee, so I’ll certainly be an independent voice where I disagree with a particular nominee.  I'll voice it, whether it's Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or anybody else.  I'll voice those disagreements and I’ll certainly support the areas of agreement.

Johnson on Facebook’s cooperation on terror investigations : [BASH] And senator, three days after the Orlando shootings last week you wrote a letter to Facebook to CEO Mark Zuckerberg - Zuckerberg, forgive me - and you asked the company to turn over material relating to the accounts linked to the Orlando shooter because he was posting on that site during the attack.  Has Mark Zuckerberg or anybody from Facebook responded? [JOHNSON]  Yes.  I’m sure Facebook is going to be cooperative.  They've been cooperative in the past.  They've been doing very innovative - taking very innovative efforts trying to counter ISIS' vile and barbaric use of social media.  So I view Facebook as a real partner in this.
 
 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DANA BASH:  And joining me now is Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.  First question, senator, is do you support the idea that convention delegates should be able to vote their conscience, be unbound if they are currently bound to vote for Donald trump?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE:  Well, good morning, Dana.  I'm not a delegate.  I really do not know.  Nobody can really predict what's going to be the outcome of our nomination process.  I know there's a number of movements afoot.

I'm not part of that process.  I have my own race here in Wisconsin.  I’m going to concentrate on the areas of agreement, growing our economy, strengthening our military, defeating ISIS, securing our borders, making sure that we have judges appointed to the Supreme Court.  So those are the issues, you know, economic growth so that we have - create better opportunities for the American public for the folks here in Wisconsin.  I mean, that’s the think I’m going to concentrate on.

BASH:  You mentioned your race there in Wisconsin.  New poll from Marquette University shows you down nine points with likely voters.  A lot of Republicans are worried Donald Trump is dragging down vulnerable Republicans, you are one of those Republicans.  Is Donald Trump dragging you down?

JOHNSON:  Dana, we just began our campaign.  I know my opponent announced over a year ago he’s so desperate to return to the United States Senate.  I'm actually accomplishing things.  So I've been approaching this campaign, I’m doing my job as the chairman of Senate Committee and Homeland Security Government Affairs.  It’s a serious responsibility.  I take it seriously.

So I'm not really looking at the polls right now.  Remember six years ago I didn't even announce, didn't even decide to run for Senate about six months out.

BASH:  Yes.

JOHNSON:  It’s about the same position we're in right now.  So again I’m not worried about polls.  I'm just doing my job.

BASH:  According to a paper from your home state you said just before an event last month "I’m going to certainly endorse the Republican nominee and obviously it looks like that will be Mr. Trump." Have you endorsed him?

JOHNSON:  It has been my intention to support the Republican nominee.  And again nobody can predict the outcome of this thing.  So I think things remain reasonably uncertain.  But is my intention to support -

BASH:  So are you endorsing Mr. Trump right now?

JOHNSON:  I intend to support the Republican nominee and certainly support the areas of agreement, growing our economy, defeating ISIS, strengthening our military, securing our border.  I mean, those - no two people agree 100 percent on everything.  So I'll support the areas of agreement.

BASH:  Support but not endorse, what's the difference?

JOHNSON:  Well to me endorsement is a big embrace.  It basically shows that I pretty well agree with an individual on almost everything.  That's not necessarily be the case with our nominee, so I’ll certainly be an independent voice where I disagree with a particular nominee.  I'll voice it, whether it's Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or anybody else.  I'll voice those disagreements and I’ll certainly support the areas of agreement.

BASH:  OK.  Let's talk about the letter that you wrote to the FBI Director James Comey asking for more information about the agency's actions during and after and even before the shooting in Orlando.  Do you think that the agency mishandled the case?

JOHNSON:  Well again, as chairman the Senate Committee and Homeland Security of Government Affairs - yes, I do have that responsibility of oversight and I’ve got a great deal of respect for Director Comey and Secretary Johnson.  I'm sure they're also doing an after action report.  They’re looking at the facts of the situation as well as previous terrorist attacks trying to figure out, what can we do better?

BASH:  And senator, three days after the Orlando shootings last week you wrote a letter to Facebook to CEO Mark Zuckerberg - Zuckerberg, forgive me - and you asked the company to turn over material relating to the accounts linked to the Orlando shooter because he was posting on that site during the attack.  Has Mark Zuckerberg or anybody from Facebook responded?

JOHNSON:  Yes.  I’m sure Facebook is going to be cooperative.  They've been cooperative in the past.  They've been doing very innovative - taking very innovative efforts trying to counter ISIS' vile and barbaric use of social media.  So I view Facebook as a real partner in this.

BASH:  Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

JOHNSON:  Have a good day.

 ###END INTERVIEW###


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