Issues

Ousted Sen. McCaskill Falsely Claims GOP Senator Hasn’t Held Hearings on Coronavirus

Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) pushed back forcefully Wednesday after former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill claimed he hadn't held Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearings to address the Wuhan coronavirus.

"Claire doesn't know what she's talking about," Johnson told MSNBC after McCaskill ripped the committee chairman on Morning Joe.

"It's a ridiculous charge," Johnson said. "I actually can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think you can tell from my earlier answer, I'm fully briefed because this administration has been incredibly accessible in terms of coronavirus, so most of my time and effort has been about border issues, coronavirus, cybersecurity."

Johnson's committee held a hearing last week with Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services officials entitled, "Federal Interagency Response to the Coronavirus and Preparing for Future Global Pandemics." He also held a roundtable on protecting the United States from coronavirus last month and wrote letters to Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar and acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf about their departments' plans to combat the outbreak.

Johnson's actions didn't stop McCaskill from railing against her former colleague, calling him a "joke" and an "embarrassing tool" for wanting to go forward with an investigation of Hunter Biden and Ukrainian gas company Burisma at the apparent expense of a coronavirus response.

"He is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee," she said. "Right? He has jurisdiction over coronavirus and the federal response. Is he calling a hearing? Is he trying to figure out why first responders' tests aged on a shelf in the state of Washington until they were no longer good? Is he going to tell people why they can't get the test? No…. People should be really angry about this."

Pressed about the timing of this week's committee subpoena vote related to the Burisma probe, Johnson said the inquiry was the continuation of a congressional oversight investigation dating back to 2017. He later announced he would delay the vote.

MSNBC didn't respond to a request for comment.