House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler sharply rebuked Rep. Louie Gohmert on Wednesday after the Texas Republican claimed that the impeachment inquiry of President Trump was intended to “stop the investigation” of alleged Ukrainian interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“I am deeply concerned that any member of the House would spout Russian propaganda on the floor of the House,” Nadler said.
Gohmert shouted back at Nadler as he was returning to his seat, demanding that the Judiciary chairman’s words be stricken from the record.
A firebrand conservative, Gohmert said during the House debate that the proceedings signal that “this country’s end is now in sight.” He promoted what U.S. intelligence agencies regard as a baseless theory that Ukraine attempted to influence the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The intelligence community says the idea was planted by Russian agents to distract from their own country’s meddling in favor of Trump.
“The investigation serves two purposes,” Gohmert said. “Number one: Stop the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Ukraine into the corruption of Ukraine interference into the U.S. election in 2016.”
In testimony last month, Fiona Hill, who served as a top White House expert on Russia, called out Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee for suggesting that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election.
“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill testified. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
Trump himself has embraced the theory that Ukraine meddled in the U.S. election, telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his July 25 call that he wanted him to investigate the discredited conspiracy theory that a hacked computer server belonging to the Democratic National Committee was moved to Ukraine.
“The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it,” Trump told Zelensky, according to the readout of the call provided by the White House. “As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin appears delighted that some Republicans have echoed the theory of Ukrainian election interference.
“Thank God nobody is accusing us anymore of interfering in the U.S. elections,” he said at a November conference in Moscow. “Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”
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