A Republican senator is facing cries of hypocrisy after he implied President Biden may be “compromised” by Russia.
“Vladimir gets the waiver to build his pipeline, our workers get pink slips,” Mr Hannity complained, referring to Mr Biden’s decision not to sanction a Russian company building a new oil and gas pipeline. “Would I be wrong to interpret that, that maybe Joe thinks that Russia has him compromised?”
“Well, you wouldn’t be wrong to be suspicious that maybe that’s the problem there,” Senator Johnson replied.
The comment provoked howls on Twitter, where many remembered former president Donald Trump’s obsequious behavior toward Mr Putin. Throughout his presidency, Mr Trump – whom Mr Johnson staunchly supported – defended the Russian leader’s actions, resisted sanctions against Russia, and openly trusted Mr Putin’s account of what happened during the 2016 election over that of American intelligence agencies.
“They are just all out of their minds trying to make Biden what Trump actually was,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Next week Ron Johnson will claim Joe Biden wants to build a luxury hotel in Moscow,” another quipped.
One obvious point of comparison is the two presidents’ summits with the Russian leader. In Helsinki in 2018, Mr Trump stood by Mr Putin’s side at a lengthy joint press conference, praising his Russian counterpart as “extremely strong and powerful” and once again casting doubt on US intelligence.
On Wednesday, Mr Biden emerged from a tense meeting in Geneva at which he reportedly challenged Mr Putin on Russia’s cyberattacks and human rights abuses. The meeting was shorter than expected, and there was no joint press conference afterward.
“Biden compromised?” another Twitter user asked after Mr Johnson’s conversation with Mr Hannity. “These two are definitely projecting.”
Others pointed out that Mr Johnson spent one recent Fourth of July in Moscow. In 2018, he and seven other Republican senators celebrated America’s Independence Day with a bizarre photo-op with Russian officials.
“Guy who spreads Russian talking points and visits Russia on July 4th has thoughts about ‘compromised,’” one Twitter user wrote. “Unreal.”