GOP senator says idea that Ukraine interfered in US election is 'not a conspiracy theory'

GOP senator says idea that Ukraine interfered in US election is 'not a conspiracy theory'

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonTrump's ambitious infrastructure vision faces Senate GOP roadblock  GOP lawmaker touts bill prohibiting purchases of drugs made in China Wisconsin Republican says US must not rely on China for critical supplies MORE (R-Ark.) on Sunday insisted claims of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election were “not a conspiracy theory” and accused those using the characterization of pushing a “Democratic talking point.”

“That’s not a conspiracy theory,” Cotton said when CBS’s Margaret Brennan noted that President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE’s attorney, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowMeadows joins White House in crisis mode What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Senate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment MORE, had promoted the claim during his defense of Trump during the Senate impeachment trial.

"You can read the president's brief. They make it very clear that you can accept that yes, Russia interfered in a systematic, organized, top-down fashion. I say that. I've been part of the Intelligence Committee that's been investigating it for years. You can also say that it's clear that some Ukrainian officials tried to influence the outcome of the election in 2016," he said.

Cotton, echoing other Republicans who have argued Ukraine also interfered in the election, pointed to public comments by Ukrainian officials disparaging then-candidate Trump and in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWe need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Poll shows Biden with 6-point edge on Trump in Florida Does Joe Biden really want to be president? MORE.

The Arkansas senator conceded, however, these efforts were not comparable to Russia’s “systematic, top-down” interference in the election.

Numerous intelligence officials have said the notion of broader Ukrainian election interference is a conspiracy theory, with former National Security Council official Fiona Hill saying in testimony during the House’s impeachment inquiry last year that the Kremlin has heavily promoted the idea.

Brennan on Sunday also noted that Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (R-S.D.), the number two Republican in the Senate, has also pushed back against claims of Ukrainian interference.

“Everything I’ve seen in the intelligence community and in our Intelligence Committee puts it squarely on Russia,” Thune said last year after Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) promoted the claim on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most vocal defenders in the Senate, also pushed back on the theory after Kennedy’s remarks, saying ““I think it’s always wrong to say things that can’t be proven. It was the Russians.”