Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on Sunday suggested Ukraine may have hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers in 2016 ― an assertion that bucks the assessment of the entire U.S. intelligence community, and also happens to echo a debunked conspiracy theory often peddled by President Donald Trump.
Asked during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” whether Russia was behind the cyberattack, as the CIA and Department of Homeland Security have concluded, Kennedy falsely claimed that nobody knows.
″I don’t know,” he told host Chris Wallace. “Nor do you. Nor do any of us.”
Wallace interrupted to point out that the “entire intelligence community says it was Russia.”
″Right, but it could also be Ukraine,” Kennedy said.
The U.S. intelligence community has stated definitively that Russia hacked the DNC’s servers and leaked thousands of emails in an effort to help Trump win the presidency in 2016. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine was behind the cyberattack.
In September, Tom Bossert, a former homeland security adviser to Trump, said that idea is “completely false” and “completely debunked.”
“It has no validity,” Bossert told ABC News. “The United States government reached its conclusion on attributing to Russia the DNC hack in 2016 before it even communicated it to the FBI.”
Several current and former State Department officials, while testifying before Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry, have also said the Ukraine hacking claim has no basis in reality.
Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, testified that Russia has pushed the Ukraine hacking theory in an effort to obscure its own role in the attack and sow discord within the U.S. political system.
“Our nation is being torn apart,” Hill said. “Truth is questioned. Our highly professional, expert career foreign service is being undermined.”
But Kennedy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that’s simply “her opinion.”
“I’m not saying that I know one way or another,” he said Sunday. “I’m saying Ms. Hill is entitled to her opinion, but no rebuttal evidence was allowed to be offered.”
“We know that, at least that the Republicans in the House wanted to call a witness, a DNC political operative who lobbied the Ukrainian Embassy to be involved, get involved in 2016 election,” he continued. “We don’t know if Ukraine did that. We don’t know to what extent.”
Kennedy was apparently referring to Alexandra Chalupa, a co-chair of the DNC’s Ethnic Council who worked with Ukrainian Embassy officials in 2016 to research former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Russia ties. There is no evidence, however, that Ukraine coordinated with Chalupa or the DNC to influence the election.
Wallace concluded the interview by telling Kennedy that it’s “always interesting to talk to you and even more interesting to listen to you.”
Asked Sunday why Trump doesn’t believe his own Justice Department and intelligence officials about the Russian cyberattack, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed he actually does.
“The president has said he accepts that, but also there are plenty of ways to interfere in an election,” Conway told CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
When host Margaret Brennan pressed Conway to answer specifically about Trump’s claims that Ukraine was behind the DNC hack, the White House aide pivoted to attacking Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and the media.