Nov 22, 2019

Trump repeats Ukraine conspiracy theory on 53-minute "Fox & Friends" call

Screenshot via Fox News

President Trump spent 53 minutes of his Friday morning on the phone with the hosts of "Fox & Friends" — his latest call-in to one of his favorite TV shows.

Driving the news: President Trump spent a chunk of the interview repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. "That's what the word is," he claimed without evidence.

  • The debunked conspiracy theory — frequently referred to as CrowdStrike, the security firm at its center — is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, said during his impeachment hearing that the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is "a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted."
  • Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, said during her impeachment hearing that the conspiracy theory is "a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."

Worth noting: Trump also said that Crowdstrike is owned by "a very wealthy Ukrainian," but it's actually a publicly-traded company. Its largest outside shareholder is Warburg Pincus, a New York City private equity firm from which Trump plucked one of his top economic advisors.

Impeachment-related highlights:

  • The president once again slammed former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, claiming she was "not an angel." During her impeachment testimony , she agreed that it was Trump's prerogative to fire ambassadors at will, but asked, "What I do wonder is why was it necessary to smear my reputation also?"
  • Trump said that during a Senate impeachment trial he only wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify more than Hunter Biden.
  • Trump said that he knows "exactly" who the Ukraine whistleblower is — and insinuated that the "Fox & Friends" hosts did as well — prompting them to attempt to steer the conversation away from the topic live on air.

Other highlights:

  • Trump predicted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi won't pass the USMCA trade deal, despite it being a priority for some Democratic lawmakers ahead of 2020.
  • He tried to find a middle ground between supporting pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and not offending Chinese President Xi Jinping as the U.S. attempts to close a "phase one" trade deal with China. "We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I'm also standing with President Xi," he said.
  • Trump denied rumors surrounding his health after a surprise visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center last weekend, calling it "fake, disgusting news."

2020 lightning round:

  • Joe Biden: "I don't know if Joe can make it mentally. He's off."
  • Pete Buttigieg: "I don't see him dealing with President Xi. I don't see him dealing with Kim Jong-un. But maybe he is."
  • Elizabeth Warren: "I think Pocahontas has come up from the embers."
  • Michael Bloomberg: "I think his time has come and gone.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Senators briefed that CrowdStrike theory is Russian-backed disinformation campaign

Fiona Hill, former official at the National Security Council specialising in the former Soviet Union and Russian and European affairs, at her hearing on the impeachment of President Trump. Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Intelligence officials recently briefed senators and their aides on Russian efforts to pin interference in the 2016 U.S. election on Ukraine, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: As part of their defense of President Trump amid the impeachment inquiry, Republicans have tried to advance the now-debunked conspiracy theory that the government in Kiev was responsible for hacking the 2016 election.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019

Vindman calls Ukrainian election interference conspiracy theory "a Russian narrative"

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said during Tuesday's impeachment hearing that the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election is "a Russian narrative that President [Vladimir] Putin has promoted."

The big picture: The debunked conspiracy theory — frequently referred to as CrowdStrike, the security firm at its center — is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019

Sen. John Kennedy repeats Ukraine conspiracy theory about DNC server

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) reiterated a debunked conspiracy theory on "Fox News Sunday" that Ukraine may have interfered in the 2016 presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee's computer servers, despite consensus in the U.S. intelligence community that Russia was responsible for the attacks.

Go deeperArrowNov 24, 2019