GOP resorts to spreading Russian propaganda to defend Trump

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Republicans know they're lying when they pin the 2016 election meddling on Ukraine, but think it's the only way to help Trump survive impeachment.

Many Republicans now believe spreading lies and Russian propaganda is the best way to defend Donald Trump from impeachment, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday.

More and more Republicans have started trying to pin the 2016 election meddling on Ukraine, in an effort to justify Trump's withholding of military aid to the country — an action at the heart of the current House impeachment inquiry against him.

The U.S. intelligence community has unanimously concluded that Russia was in fact behind the interference campaign in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year laid out in detail how Russia carried out that effort, using social media and misinformation, as well as by hacking Democratic servers and leaking internal communications.

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The Examiner reported this week that Republicans know that it was Russia, not Ukraine, that maliciously hacked Democratic institutions in 2016 to influence the election. However, GOP lawmakers believe lying and pinning the meddling on Ukraine makes it easier for them to defend Trump.

"It’s not a comfort-level decision," an unnamed GOP operative told the Examiner of Republicans' attempt to pin the meddling on Ukraine. "It's a sign that they understand that they are stuck with Trump until 2020, that his base votes, and it's their only chance of survival."

Several high-profile Republicans have glommed on to the baseless Ukraine conspiracy of late, including Richard Burr, the Senate Intelligence Committee chair whose own committee wrote a report saying Ukraine did not interfere in the election.

"Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton," Burr (R-NC) claimed recently, without evidence. "Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?"

Other Republicans, such as Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) have pushed the Trump-backed false conspiracy theory that Crowdstrike is a Ukrainian company that somehow was involved in the hack of the Democratic National Committee servers.

The conspiracy theory is absolutely false — Crowdstrike is a California-based company that even the National Republican Congressional Committee uses to help with cybersecurity. And experts, such as former national security aide Fiona Hill, say the Republicans who peddle false conspiracies like this one only aid Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did," Hill said in her opening statement in a public impeachment hearing last month.

She added, "This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.