Russia, not Ukraine, intervened in 2016 election, top Trump official tells Menendez

Stefani Reynolds

Stefani Reynolds

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Lindsey Graham of SC insisted on Tuesday that Ukraine had not meddled in the 2016 presidential election, pushing back against a debunked conspiracy theory being promoted by President Donald Trump and many of his supporters, including the authors of the recent Republican impeachment report.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that he wanted to agree an exchange with Russia of all remaining prisoners when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Paris next week.

Sources tell CNN that no United States intelligence agency has ever produced a product accusing the Ukrainian government of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Menendez followed up, echoing the president's own language, and eliciting a swift "no" from Hale. "I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a USA adversary, and that Ukraine - not Russian Federation - attacked us in 2016".

"I do not believe we can go forward as a nation until we punish Russian Federation", he said during an interview on NBC.

"I do not", he replied.

Despite privately expressing skepticism regarding the claims, a growing number of Republicans in Congress have made the strategic decision to publicly back the claim, believing it to be the most "politically expedient" Trump defense against impeachment, according to the Washington Examiner.

"That does not serve our interests", Hale said.

"Any time there is information that indicates that any country has messed with American elections, we not only have a right, but a duty to make sure we chase that down", he said during a press briefing in Foggy Bottom.

Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have testified that Giuliani ran a parallel diplomatic track with Ukraine in coordination with Trump, bypassing regular channels.

The Ukraine interference conspiracy endorsed by Putin, Trump and now Kennedy, has been soundly debunked not only by USA intelligence agencies, but also by a Republican-led Senate committee in 2017.

Following the hearing, Sen.

Portman is co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and has worked with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to help Ukraine separate itself from Russian Federation. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who sits on Foreign Relations, told reporters that Tuesday's testimony from Hale and another State official further contradicted the Ukraine conspiracy.

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