On Sunday, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, who plays a frequent defender of President Trump on TV, responded to a question from Fox News’ Chris Wallace — Was it Russia or Ukraine that hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election? — with a conspiratorial and wildly inaccurate answer. “I don’t know,” said Kennedy. “Nor do you. Nor do any of us.”
Aware of the total falsehood in his statement — before Trump took office, the intelligence committee determined that Russia had meddled in the election to the benefit of the Republican candidate — Kennedy promptly walked back his claim. Speaking with Chris Cuomo on Monday, Kennedy admitted that he “was wrong” about the conspiracy that Ukraine hacked DNC emails and pinned the job on Russia.
Though Kennedy stepped away from the claim, it’s unlikely that Republicans will fully abandon the idea just because it isn’t true. On Meet the Press on Sunday, Senator Roger Wicker told Chuck Todd that “Ukrainians themselves tried to interfere.” And Trump himself repeated the theory late last week just after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee conducting the public impeachment hearings claimed that he did not endorse it.
Kennedy probably also won’t cut the chapters of conspiracy and obvious falsehoods from his rhetorical playbook either. Last week, the Senate Judiciary member forwarded a popular theory in a hearing on the suspicious circumstances surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s death. “Christmas ornaments, drywall, and Jerry Epstein,” Kennedy said, getting the name wrong. “Name three things that don’t hang themselves. That’s what the American people think, and they deserve some answers.” On Ukraine, Kennedy has taken the unsure stance that Trump — the man who was just forced to pay $2 million to a group of charities after funneling the money to his campaign — is genuinely concerned with corruption in Ukraine.