Russia Interfered in 2016 Election, but So Did Ukraine: Cruz

December 9, 2019 Updated: December 9, 2019

Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, but so did Ukraine, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asserted on Sunday, challenging a widely circulated talking point in the media.

A slew of media outlets have claimed that Republicans are trying to argue Ukraine interfered in the election instead of Russia, but many GOP members are of the mind that both countries actually interfered.

Asked by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd if he thinks Ukraine meddled in the election, Cruz said: “I do. And I think there’s considerable evidence of that.”

Todd claimed that such a belief was “odd.”

“Chuck, let me point out a game that the media is playing. You know, a question that you’ve asked a number of people is you’ve said to senators, sort of aghast, ‘Do you believe that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the election?’ Now, that, in a court of law, would be struck as a misleading question. Of course, Russia interfered in our election. Nobody looking at the evidence disputes that,” Cruz said.

“Look, on the evidence, Russia clearly interfered in our election,” he continued. “But here’s the game the media is playing. Because Russia interfered, the media pretends nobody else did. Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election. The sitting ambassador from Ukraine wrote an op-ed blasting Donald Trump.”

After Todd said that there was no equating what Ukraine did with what Russia did, Cruz continued.

trump and clinton
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are introduced during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 2016. (David Goldman/AP Photo)

“Chuck, I understand that you want to dismiss Ukrainian interference, because, A) they were trying to get Hillary Clinton elected, which is what the vast majority of the media wanted, anyway; and B) it’s inconvenient for the narrative,” he said.

“You know, it’s hysterical. Two years ago, there was article after article after article in the mainstream media about Ukrainian interference in the elections. But now the Democrats have no evidence of a crime, no evidence of violating the law. And so suddenly, Ukrainian interference is treated as the media clutches their pearls. ‘Oh, my goodness. You can’t say that,'” he added.

A number of government officials and agencies in Ukraine tried interfering in the 2016 election. In one example the Ukrainian government released a so-called black ledger purportedly showing financial information about Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016. Manafort resigned in part because of the information in Aug. 2016. And multiple Ukrainian officials have said other officials in the country were supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and trying to help her win.

After the interview on Sunday, CNBC reporter John Harwood accused Cruz of spreading Russian propaganda. Cruz hit back, telling him: “This is a flat-out lie & you know it. You’re not supposed to be a partisan hack; you claim to be a ‘journalist.’”

Cruz then directed him to a series of tweets in which he laid out a case against calling Ukraine’s interference in the election a conspiracy theory, which website Axios called it, or propaganda. He alleged that Axios and Todd were “deliberately lying.”

“They know there’s significant evidence of Ukrainian corruption, but they refuse to report it. When anyone points to actual facts, they scream ‘Russian conspiracy.’ This isn’t journalism; it’s partisan propaganda. Chuck knows better,” he said.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber