the national interest

Trump Just Repeated the Russian Conspiracy Theory Republicans Deny He Believes

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Yesterday, Fiona Hill testified that President Trump and his allies have circulated “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” absolving Vladimir Putin of interference in the election by claiming Ukrainians, not Russian hackers, actually stole Democratic emails in 2016. Republicans indignantly denied the charge. Byron York called it a “willfully misleading statement.” Devin Nunes angrily replied, and the Trump War Room quickly posted a clip of his response on YouTube, headlined, “Devin Nunes Destroys Fiona Hill’s False Claim About Republicans Denying Russian Meddling.”

This morning, Trump gave an interview to Fox & Friends repeating the very theory Republicans so angrily denied he has ever promoted. As the friendly hosts looked on apprehensively, Trump began unspooling a wild theory he has mentioned before, and invoked on his phone call to Ukrainian president Zelensky. The theory posits that Ukrainians hacked Democratic emails, framed Russia, and kept the server they hacked to hide their crime. It fixates on the role of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that helped the FBI solve the crime.

Trump called CrowdStrike “a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian … why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?” None of this is true. CrowdStrike is not owned by Ukrainians. The FBI did examine the server. Ukrainians don’t have it. And Robert Mueller proved that Russian hackers carried out the email hack. An obviously concerned Steve Doocy, apparently aware that Trump was blowing up the defense Republicans had laid out the day before, asked, “Are you sure they have it?” Trump seemed sure.

Trump seems to enjoy confusing his supporters by constantly shifting the party line. One day they must deny Trump ever said a thing, and the next day Trump will say that thing. Along these lines, Trump proclaimed that deep state is a phrase he avoids. “A lot of people say ‘deep state.’ I don’t like to use the word deep state,” he said. Trump has in fact used the phrase some two dozen times on Twitter alone, along with innumerable mentions in speeches and other public remarks.

Trump proceeded to deny yesterday’s testimony by David Holmes that he heard Trump speak to Gordon Sondland in a restaurant in Kiev this summer, because Trump was shouting so loud Sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear. “The guy yesterday on the telephone … I can’t hear guys making calls,” he shouted. “That was a total phony deal, that was a phony — call it ‘deep state,’ call it ‘anti-Trump people,’” he ranted, having apparently forgotten having said just a few minutes before that he doesn’t use the phrase deep state.

Also, Trump made some time to confess to some light war crimes. “I just pulled out of Syria except I kept the oil,” he said. Trump has frequently claimed that the United States seized oil from Syria, which would be a war crime if it were true, which it fortunately is not.

Here he seems to be saying that he personally kept the oil. So can federal agents search his properties for the stolen oil?

Trump Repeats Russian Conspiracy Theory After GOP Denies It