Fact Check: Russia Interfered in the 2016 Election — and Ukraine Did, Too

Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

CLAIM: President Donald Trump subscribed to the “debunked conspiracy theory” that Ukraine, “rather than Russia,” interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

VERDICT: FALSE. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) repeated a claim Thursday at the Senate impeachment trial that Democrats made in the House impeachment inquiry, but that continues to be false: only Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump did apparently believe one idea that lacks evidence — namely, that a computer server central to the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails in the election was somehow in Ukraine.

But that is not the whole story.

Ukraine’s election intervention, under that country’s previous administration, was well-documented years ago by the mainstream media. It may not have been official government policy, but it certainly happened. To take one example, in January 2017, Politico — hardly a right-wing outlet! — reported: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire.” The lengthy investigative piece reported that Ukraine was scrambling to undo the potential diplomatic damage done when Ukrainian officials weighed in during the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton — and against Trump.

Democrats not only deny that such reports exist, but they also claim that theories of Ukrainian interference are just Russian misinformation. Therefore, believing Ukraine interfered is to be taken as evidence of “Russian collusion”!

As for whether President Trump actually believes Russia interfered in the 2016 election, he has acknowledged that Russia did so — very publicly — though he also said he believed Russia’s “meddling” had no effect on the outcome. He added that there “could be other people also” — and based on the mainstream media’s reporting, he was right.

Rep. Garcia claimed that there was not one witness in the House Intelligence Committee inquiry who supported the idea that Ukraine had interfered in the election. Certainly there were many witnesses who had not read media reports.

But some witnesses did support the idea that Ukraine intervened in the U.S. election. Dr. Fiona Hill, who has been featured in several clips played by Democrats over the past two days, actually testified — after her prepared opening statement — that Ukraine “bet on the wrong horse” in the 2016 election, and that she understood Trump’s suspicions.

As Breitbart News reported:

“I also mentioned in my deposit of October 14th that, in fact, many officials from many countries, including Ukraine, bet on the wrong horse,” Hill said. “They believed that Secretary Clinton, former Senator Clinton, former first lady Clinton, was going to win and many said some pretty disparaging and hurtful things about President Trump.”

“And I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved about them,” Hill said, adding that she would “take offense at some of the things that were said if I was the president.”

Democrats did not play those parts of Dr. Hill’s testimony — for obvious reasons.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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