The Slatest

Watch Chuck Todd Challenge Sen. John Kennedy as He Doubles Down on Ukraine Interference Claim

President Donald Trump introduces Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) during a rally at CenturyLink Center on November 14, 2019 in Bossier City, Louisiana.
President Donald Trump introduces Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) during a rally at CenturyLink Center on November 14, 2019 in Bossier City, Louisiana.
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. John Kennedy is continuing to push an unfounded conspiracy theory. The Republican senator is now saying that both Russia and Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. That doesn’t just go against the assessment of the entire intelligence community that only Russia interfered in the election, it also appears to contradict his previous rowback on the issue.

Asked about criticism of his claim that Ukraine might have been responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails in 2016, Kennedy vehemently denied he was ignoring the truth. “I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election,” Kennedy told NBC News’ Chuck Todd. The senator went on to say that “it’s been well documented” that “the prime minister of Ukraine, the interior minister, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, the head of the Ukrainian anti-corruption league all meddled in the election on social media and otherwise.”

Todd pushed back against Kennedy’s claim, accusing him of parroting a Moscow talking point. , “This entire effort to frame Ukraine for the Russian meddling of 2016, of which you just made this case that they’ve done it, that actually this is an effort of Russia propaganda, that this is a Russian intelligence propaganda campaign in order to get people like you to say these things about Ukraine,” Todd said. “Are you at all concerned you are doing Russian intelligence work here?”

Kennedy then called on Todd to “read the articles,” saying that “they’re very well documented.” He acknowledged that “Russia was very aggressive” and is “much more sophisticated” but that “does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.” Todd responded in an exasperated tone, seemingly dumbfounded by what he was hearing. “You realize that the only other person selling this argument outside of the United States is Vladimir Putin,” Todd said. “You have done exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do. Are you at all concerned that you have been duped?”

Kennedy’s assertions came a week after he raised more than a few eyebrows when he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Ukraine may have been the one to hack the DNC’s computers during the last presidential campaign. But he then backtracked from that claim the next day, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he misheard the question. “I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it,” he said.