SPONSORED:

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 CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP chairman: Defense bill to include renaming Confederate bases, but not Section 230 repeal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread Potential 2024 Republicans flock to Georgia amid Senate runoffs 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 TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE’s attorney, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowBiden faces politically thorny decision on Trump prosecutions Trump cannot block grand jury subpoena for his tax returns, court rules Now, we need the election monitors 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 ClintonClinton offers congratulations over Elliot Page announcement Biden brushes off criticism of budget nominee Mellman: Mired in Partisanship 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 ThuneDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms 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.”