The Slatest

GOP Senator Says He Mistakenly Spread a Ukraine Conspiracy on Fox News. He Meant to Push a Different Falsehood.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy was widely pilloried in the non-Trump, reality-based world for his appearance on Fox News Sunday, where the first-term Louisiana senator regurgitated a Trump conspiracy theory that perhaps it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the Democrats in 2016, we just don’t know, nobody really knows, perhaps we should investigate? It’s a typically mind-bending, self-serving Trump talking point, where “people are saying” something totally made up; Trump’s just asking the questions. Where’s the server? Maybe Tupac has it? You don’t know for sure he doesn’t have it. You didn’t go to Tupac’s funeral. And even if you did, people are saying it could have been a stunt double. Did you get fingerprints? What about the mourners? Crisis actors. In fact, where was Tupac on 9/11?

Does Sen. Kennedy think Tupac did 9/11?

Chris Wallace: Who do you believe was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their emails? Was it Russia or Ukraine?

Sen. John Kennedy: I don’t know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us.

Wallace: Let me just interrupt to say: The entire intelligence community says it was Russia.

Kennedy: Right. But it could also be Ukraine. I’m not saying I know one way or the other …

I’ll take that as maybe Tupac did 9/11.

Kennedy, of course, is hewing to the Trump-inspired Republican talking point that nothing is real. It’s also a well-known Russian propaganda technique. On Monday, he went on CNN to kinda-sorta walk back his previous comments, saying that he had misheard the question. Kennedy told CNN’s Chris Cuomo:

I did an interview yesterday with Chris Wallace. Damn good reporter. I was answering one of his questions and he interjected a statement and asked me to react to it. What I heard Chris say was, he made the statement that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election. And I answered the question. That’s not what he said. I went back and looked at the transcript. He said: Only Russia tried to hack the DNC computer. Now, Chris is right. I was wrong. The only evidence I have, and I think it is overwhelming, is that it was Russia that tried to hack the DNC computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.

First, that’s a misrepresentation of the original interview. If you watch a slightly longer cut of the interview, it’s clear Wallace didn’t interject—he led the question with clips of President Donald Trump frothing about CrowdStrike and Ukraine, essentially the extended version of the Ukraine did the real election meddling conspiracy theory.

Did Kennedy mishear the question? Sure. I guess we’ll have to take him at his word. What did he mean to say? “There is a lot of evidence, proven and unproven, everyone’s got an opinion, that Ukraine did try to interfere, along with Russia and probably others, in the 2016 election,” Kennedy went on to explain to CNN.

Oh right. He just recited the the wrong falsehood masquerading as a GOP talking point. Apparently it wasn’t Tupac who did 9/11—it was Biggie.