Chuck Todd and Sen. Ron Johnson got into a heated conversation on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” over whether Hunter Biden committed any crimes through his overseas business dealings — sparking a fierce rebuttal from legal scholar Jonathan Turley eviscerating the NBC News anchor.
The fiery exchange started after Johnson, who with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), led a Senate investigation into Hunter Biden’s business relationships in Ukraine and China, was pressed by Todd on what actual laws President Biden’s son may have violated.
“Senator, do you have a crime that you think Hunter Biden committed because I’ve yet to see anybody explain? It is not a crime to make money off of your last name,” Todd said to the Wisconsin Republican.
Turley, a professor at George Washington University, provided his own answer to Todd’s question in a lengthy Twitter thread — while also pointing out an apparent double standard on the part of the anchor.
“While Todd just heaps insults upon those who have called for investigations, he previously gave entirely non-confrontational and supportive interviews for investigating the possible ‘compromising’ of Trump or his family through foreign deals,” Turley said.
“There are of course a host of crimes, including some which may be charged. However, on the influence peddling scandal, there are foreign transfers, gifts, and other matters that could prove criminal,” he wrote. “The point is not that there are proven crimes but the need to have a special counsel to look into these offenses, including some that involve emails referencing the President.”
Johnson, in his response on the Sunday morning program, referenced allegations made in a report released last month by Garrett Ziegler, 26, a former Trump White House adviser who founded the conservative nonprofit group “Marco Polo.”
“Chuck, you ought to read the Marco Polo report, where they detail all kinds of potential crimes. You know, Senator Grassley has certainly covered …” Johnson said as Todd interrupted.
“Hold on, let me stop you there. Potential. This is potential. Potential is innuendo,” Todd said.
Johnson raised accusations in his Senate report, released in September 2020, that Hunter Biden paid about $30,000 to prostitutes caught up in European sex trafficking operations.
“Is that a crime?” Johnson asked Todd. “It sounds sleazy as you know what.”
‘ll take you at your word that you’re ethically bothered by Hunter Biden. I’m curious though, you seem to have a pattern,” Todd said.
“Are you not? Are you not?,” Johnson broke in.
Todd replied that he deals in “facts” and is skeptical of claims made by both political parties.
“I’m curious, were you at all concerned? Your Senate Democrats want to investigate Jared Kushner’s loan from the Qatari government when he was working in the government negotiating many things in the Middle East. Are you not as concerned about that? Are you not concerned about that? And I say that because it seems to me if you’re concerned about what Hunter Biden did, you should be equally outraged about what Jared Kushner did,” Todd said to Johnson.
The senator said he wanted to get to the “truth,” adding, “I don’t target individuals.”
Todd said Johnson was “targeting” Hunter Biden.
“Chuck, you know, part of the problem, and this is pretty obvious to anybody watching this, is you don’t invite me on to interview me. You invite me on to argue with me. You know, I’m just trying to lay out the facts that certainly Senator Grassley and I uncovered,” he said.
“They were suppressed. They were censored. They interfered in the 2020 election. Conservatives understand that. Unfortunately, liberals and the media don’t. And part of the reason our politics are inflamed is we do not have an unbiased media. We don’t. It’s unfortunate. I’m all for a free press,” Johnson said.
After some back-and-forth and talking over each other, Todd told Johnson: “Look, you can go back on your partisan cable cocoon and talk about media bias all you want. I understand it’s part of your identity” before switching topics.
Turley, in his play-by-play reaction to the interview, criticized Todd for “dismissing” Johnson.
“Todd proceeded to dismiss Johnson’s objections with snarky comments about ‘taking him at his word that he is ethically bothered by Hunter Biden’ and saying that his objection to media bias is ‘part of your identity,’” he wrote.
He also bristled at Todd needling Johnson about returning to his “cable cocoon,” pointing out that the NBC host acted differently when it came to allegations about former President Donald Trump.
To make his case, he pointed to a 2018 interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) when Todd failed to push back on allegations against Trump.
“Todd interviewed former House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff on Trump foreign deals and bank loans. Schiff declared without contradiction by Todd that ‘if Trump’s [business dealings] are a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed,’” Turley said.
He also linked to a column in The Post last week that laid out in detail why Hunter Biden should be investigated and why the media has covered them up.
“Even in a city where influence-peddling is a virtual cottage industry, the Bidens took the corrupt practice to a truly Olympian level,” he wrote.