Sen. John Kennedy Says ‘I Was Wrong’ in Saying Ukraine Might Have Hacked DNC

November 26, 2019 Updated: November 26, 2019

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said he was wrong when he said Ukraine might have hacked into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

Kennedy appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and was asked whether he thought Russia or Ukraine was responsible for the breach.

“I don’t know, nor do you, nor do any others,” Kennedy said.

“Well, let me interrupt to say—the entire intelligence community says it was Russia,” host Chris Wallace said.

“Right, but it could also be Ukraine. I’m not saying that I know one way or the other. I’m saying that Ms. Hill is entitled to her opinion but no rebuttal evidence was allowed to be offered,” Kennedy said, referring to Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official who said that Ukraine did not hack into the DNC server.

“We know, at least the Republicans in the House, wanted to call a witness, a DNC political operative who lobbied the Ukrainian embassy to be involved, get involved in 2016 election. We don’t know if Ukraine did that, we don’t know what extent because they won’t let the president offer his evidence,” Kennedy added.

Former White House advisor on Russia, Fiona Hill, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The DNC operative, Alexandra Chalupa, met with Ukrainian officials to try to get dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. Multiple Ukrainians have admitted to interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including Andrii Telizhenko, an embassy official, and Serhiy Leshchenko, a government official.

Appearing on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” on Monday, Kennedy sought to correct himself.

“I was answering one of his questions. And he interjected a statement, and asked me to react to it. What I heard Chris say was he made the statement that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election. And I answered the question. That’s not what he said. I went back and looked at the transcript. He said only Russia tried to hack the DNC computer. Now, Chris is right. I was wrong,” Kennedy said.

“The only evidence I have, and I think it’s overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it,” Kennedy said.

The DNC server was examined by Crowdstrike, a private firm, but never by the FBI or other law enforcement agencies. Trump has said the server might be in Ukraine.

Kennedy later noted that there have been multiple reports detailing Ukrainian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“If you look at the articles I talked about, you will see that there’s a lot of evidence that Ukraine did try to meddle in the election in 2016. And I think it was very common knowledge. I know it was that President Poroshenko, then, was actively working against President Trump,” he said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

‘Alternative Theory’

The Ukraine connection matters, Kennedy continued, because of Trump’s request to Ukraine’s leader to “look into” allegations of corruption regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

“Speaker Pelosi’s theory, and Chairman Schiff’s theory is that the President asked for an investigation of a political rival,” Kennedy told host Chris Cuomo. “The alternative theory is that the president asks for an investigation of possible corruption by someone who happens to be a political rival. Now, the latter is arguably in the national interest. The former would be in his personal parochial interest.”

“Here’s what bothers me, Chris that in the House, Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi refused to allow the President or the Republicans to offer any evidence of the second theory. And I don’t think that’s fair,” he added.

Kennedy said he’s been bothered by how the impeachment proceedings played out in the House and vowed that if the body votes to impeach Trump, the trial in the Senate will be different.

Unless two-thirds of the Senate vote to convict Trump on the articles of impeachment, the president will stay in office. No president in the history of the country has been impeached and removed from office.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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