Mike Pompeo. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference on Tuesday that the U.S. has a "duty" to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee's network servers, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Former Trump administration officials have described the theory as a "fictional narrative," developed and propagated by Russian security services themselves. The U.S. intelligence community has said Russia was responsible for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

What Pompeo said: “Anytime 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,” Pompeo said to reporters.

  • Pompeo explained he had learned of "many countries that were actively engaged in trying to undermine American democracy...”

The big picture: Republicans have used the Ukraine interference conspiracy to justify President Trump's decision to freeze military aid until Ukraine carried out an investigation into the 2016 election — an allegation now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against the president.

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