NBC Host Grills Republican Senator Over Electoral College Challenge: 'You've Started the Fire'

NBC News' Meet the Press host Chuck Todd sparred with Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, a member of Senator Ted Cruz's Republican coalition challenging the Electoral College results—calling him an "arsonist."

"You made an allegation of widespread fraud, you've failed to offer specific evidence of that widespread fraud, but you're demanding an investigation on the ground there's allegations of widespread fraud," Todd said to Johnson during an interview on the program Sunday.

"Essentially, you're the arsonist here," the host added. "President Trump is the arsonist and you've started the fire... you didn't have the guts to tell the truth that this election was fair."

WATCH: @chucktodd to @senronjohnson: "You made an allegation that there was widespread fraud, you failed to offer specific evidence of that widespread fraud, but you're demanding an investigation on ... allegations of widespread fraud."

"Essentially, you're the arsonist here." pic.twitter.com/PtZMSPoWtu

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 3, 2021

In response, Johnson claimed "the fire" was started before him. The Republican senator alleged that it had begun when "the mainstream media... dropped any pretense of being unbiased, and actually choose sides during this election."

"This fire was started when you completely ignored, for example, our investigation of Hunter Biden," Johnson added.

.@SenRonJohnson: "This fire was started when you completely ignored, for example, our investigation of Hunter Biden."
...@chucktodd: "Alright, I've had enough of hearing this. You've spent the last 2 years ... carrying a lot of this crazy, conspiratorial water for Pres. Trump."

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 3, 2021

Johnson is a member of the coalition of at least 11 GOP senators and senators-elect led by Cruz. that announced Saturday it would vote to oppose Congress certifying the Electoral College vote on Wednesday, unless an audit of the election results is conducted.

The group vowed to "reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and lawfully certified'... unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."

Todd asked Johnson if his actions were an attempt to curry favor with President Trump's constituents.

"[You attempted] to somehow blame Ukraine for the interference in the election rather than Russia, you've used your committee to ... create the illusion of voter fraud. ... You're not trying to overturn the election, you just said. Are you just trying to curry favor," said Todd.

.@chucktodd:"[You attempted] to somehow blame Ukraine for the interference in the election rather than Russia, you've used your committee to ... create the illusion of voter fraud. ... You're not trying to overturn the election, you just said. Are you just trying to curry favor?"

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 3, 2021

Johnson said he was "trying to be transparent."

The Republican senator then alleged that voter fraud was present in the election, citing a claim of 42,000 people voting twice in Nevada.

In response, Todd said: "You don't get to make these allegations that haven't been proven true."

Todd's comments similarly echoed a Wednesday statement made by Senator Ben Sasse. In a Facebook post, the Republican said objecting to the Electoral College's certification process is a "dangerous ploy."

"The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking– first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress–to overturn the results of a presidential election," wrote Sasse. "If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn't and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote."

Newsweek reached out to Johnson's office, but didn't hear back in time for publication.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
Republican Senator from Wisconsin and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson argues with Democratic Senator from Michigan Gary Peters (not pictured) during a hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process on December 16, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC. JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Getty