Fiery clash ensues after Nadler accuses GOP rep of spouting Russian propaganda on House floor
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) accused a Republican lawmaker of spouting Russian propaganda, sparking a heated clash on the House floor amid the marathon debate over impeachment charges against President Trump.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas), a GOP member of the Judiciary panel, had used his time on the House floor to rail against the Democrat’s impeachment inquiry and repeat unfounded claims that Ukraine, in addition to Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.
Gohmert claimed on the House floor that the impeachment inquiry aimed to “stop the investigation of the U.S. Department of Justice and Ukraine into the corruption of Ukraine interference into the U.S. election in 2016.”
Nadler, returning to the podium after Gohmert concluded his speech, returned the fire.
“I am deeply concerned that any member of the House would spout Russian propaganda on the floor of the House,” Nadler said.
Gohmert responded by yelling and jabbing his finger at Nadler, but his reaction was drowned out by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who was presiding over the debate, banging the gavel and saying the “House will come to order.”
A testy moment as Chairman Nadler suggests Rep. Louie Gohmert spouted Russian propaganda on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives pic.twitter.com/PVrn8tqOJC
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) December 18, 2019
The flare-up is one of the few times Democrats and Republicans have clashed directly in a day filled with rehearsed talking points over the propriety of Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.
Both career Russia experts who testified in the House impeachment inquiry and reports from intelligence officials have refuted Gohmert’s claims.
American intelligence officials briefed senators and their staffs in recent months that Russia carried out a years-long effort to shift blame to Ukraine after carrying out a sophisticated disinformation campaign and cyberattack aimed to sow discord during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
That came shortly after Fiona Hill, a former top Russia analyst for the White House, fiercely disputed Republican claims of Ukraine meddling, warning during an impeachment hearing last month that Russia is benefiting from the spread of this “fictional narrative.”
Her remarks followed the president’s allies repeatedly raising the issue of Ukrainian interference during public impeachment-related hearings, claiming that any interference of any kind should be a concern.
In particular, some of Trump’s defenders have embraced claims that Ukraine sought to dig up damaging information about Trump campaign officials by reaching out to Alexandra Chalupa, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) contractor.
A Politico article in 2017 claimed that Chalupa, who left the DNC in 2016, continued to research ties between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, during which time she is said to have asked Ukrainian Embassy officials for help. She then, the story said, turned over some of her findings to officials at the DNC and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
But Chalupa denied how her work was framed in the story, and it remains unclear what role the embassy officials played. Additionally, both the DNC and former Clinton campaign officials have denied receiving information from Chalupa, CNN reported in 2017.
Hill, during her testimony, batted down this narrative.
“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” she said, warning that the “Russian government’s goal is to weaken our country.”
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