Republican congressmembers have seemingly fallen right into Russia's trap.
As impeachment hearings continued throughout the week, Republicans tried to defend President Trump by incorrectly claiming Ukraine was just as involved in hacking efforts into the 2016 U.S. election as Russia. Impeachment witness Fiona Hill even called them out for this "fictional narrative," and as The New York Times reports, it's a false storyline Russia has been trying to cook up for years.
In recent weeks, U.S. intelligence leaders met with senators and their aides for "a briefing that closely aligned with Dr. Hill's testimony," informing the legislators "Russia had engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow's own hacking of the 2016 election," the Times reports via three American officials. It's true that Ukrainians did engage in some forms of election meddling in 2016, but "they were scattershot efforts" in comparison to Moscow's, the Times continues.
The briefing was held as Republicans formulated their strategy for defending Trump after he was revealed to have asked Ukraine for political favors. And yet it seems its lessons didn't make their way to Republicans in the House, who, during the past two weeks of impeachment hearings, doubled down on unproven claims that Ukraine had a physical server containing the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee. And as Russian President Vladimir Putin literally said on Wednesday, he couldn't be happier that U.S. leaders are looking in the wrong direction. Kathryn Krawczyk