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Tue Dec 3, 2019, 03:05 PM

Senators grill State Department official on GOP's promotion of debunked Ukraine conspiracy theory

(CNN) - A Senate hearing on Russia policy became a platform for Democrats to hammer home the point that President Donald Trump, some of his senior officials and Republican lawmakers have been spreading a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

That theory has been at the heart of Trump's justification for withholding aid to Ukraine in return for an investigation into Joe Biden, his chief Democratic rival in 2020 -- a move to leverage US government resources for personal political benefit that has triggered a House impeachment inquiry.

Asked if he was aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election, Under Secretary of State David Hale said, "I'm not."

Sen. Robert Menendez, the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then asked Hale whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump.


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