NBC's Chuck Todd grills Senator John Kennedy for echoing Putin's talking points and doing Trump's 'dirty work'
- During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana accused former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of interfering with the 2016 election.
- Last week Kennedy walked back comments claiming that Ukraine might have been involved in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, but on "Meet the Press" Kennedy said both Russia and Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
- Critics of Kennedy's stance have accused GOP politicians of minimizing the threat of Russia's election interference by accusing Ukraine of similar offenses.
- Host Chuck Todd said Kennedy was echoing Putin and suggested he may be doing Trump's "dirty work."
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During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana accused former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of interfering with the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The accusation came just one week after Kennedy walked back comments suggesting that Ukraine, not Russia, had hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016 - a theory that runs counter to numerous intelligence reports pinning the blame for election interference on Russia.
Last week, Kennedy was interviewed by Fox News' Chris Wallace, where he reiterated a previously debunked conspiracy theory that the Ukrainian government had hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. US intelligence agencies and state department officials have repeatedly stated that Russia initiated that hack.Kennedy later said he was wrong for saying that Ukraine might have been involved in the hack, but said both countries had interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
On Sunday, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd pressed Kennedy on his stance on Russia and Ukraine, and asked whether the senator would accept the reports from the intelligence committee as fact. While Kennedy acknowledged Russia's interference in the 2016 election, he doubled down on Ukraine having a role as well.
"Russia was very aggressive and they're much more sophisticated," Kennedy said. "But the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton."
Kennedy cited dropped criminal charges filed against two Ukranian officials accused of leaking payment information between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Poroshenko's predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, as proof that Poroshenko's government had meddled with the 2016 election. Those charges were ultimately dismissed.
Todd and other critics of Kennedy's stance have accused GOP politicians of conflating Russia's organized election interference campaign with Ukraine's exposure of Manafort's financials. More than a dozen Russians have been charged for meddling with the 2016 election, while Manafort was ultimately convicted for failing to report millions in consulting fees he earned in Ukraine.
President Trump is accused of withholding military aid from Ukraine in exchange for the Ukrainian government launching a criminal investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The House of Representatives is in the midst of an impeachment inquiry that could move to a trial in the Senate if the House votes in favor of impeachment.You can watch Kennedy's full appearance on "Meet the Press" below: