Opinion: The Republicans' Ukraine conspiracy theory is going mainstream - - PressFrom - US

Opinion The Republicans' Ukraine conspiracy theory is going mainstream

19:12  19 november  2019
19:12  19 november  2019 Source:   theweek.com

Trump ordered quid pro quo freeze on U.S. aid to Ukraine despite legal concerns from Pentagon, State Department: military official

  Trump ordered quid pro quo freeze on U.S. aid to Ukraine despite legal concerns from Pentagon, State Department: military official President Trump ordered a freeze on nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine and said he’d only release it if the country agreed to investigate his political rivals — even though his own Defense and State Departments advised against it and raised concern about the legality of the shakedown, according to a senior Pentagon official. President Trump ordered a freeze on nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine and said he’d only release it if the country agreed to investigate his political rivals — even though his own Defense and State Departments advised against it and raised concern about the legality of the shakedown, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Now that the lead proponent of that debunked idea is the president of the United States and the head of the Republican Party, conspiracy theories have now gone mainstream inside Still, he wasn’t the only other mainstream Republican over the weekend talking about Ukraine and the 2016 election.

Conspiracy theories related to the Trump– Ukraine scandal. In November 2019, Republican senator Rand Paul asserted that the whistleblower "is a material witness to the possible He was the key author of a controversial memo that was central to the Republican narrative that FBI and DOJ

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Sean Hannity, Donald Trump are posing for a picture: President Trump, Devin Nunes, and Sean Hannity.© Illustrated | Alex Wong/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Alxe... President Trump, Devin Nunes, and Sean Hannity.

Republicans are getting to the rock-bottom of it.

They have defended President Trump throughout the public impeachment hearings by arguing his gangster efforts to force a Ukrainian investigation into its (imagined) interference in the 2016 election were actually completely legitimate. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has made this point repeatedly, assailing Democrats for their alleged collaboration with Ukrainian election interference efforts and asking, as he did during former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch's testimony, "what is the full extent of Ukraine's election meddling against the Trump campaign?"

House Republicans ask Ron Johnson for info on Ukraine

  House Republicans ask Ron Johnson for info on Ukraine House Republicans are asking a Republican senator who spoke to President Donald Trump and the US Ambassador to the European Union about the freezing of US security aid to Ukraine to provide information relevant to the Democrats' impeachment inquiry.The House Oversight Committee's ranking Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, and the House Intelligence Committee's ranking Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, sent a letter to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on Saturday asking him to provide "firsthand" information relevant to the impeachment probe.

Properly debunking this particular conspiracy theory is easier said than done, though, since it is set in Ukraine , a country with byzantine political intrigue at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. The rivalries between political factions in Kyiv are so intense that even the country’ s new

Spygate is a conspiracy theory initiated by President Donald Trump in May 2018 that the Obama administration had placed a spy in his 2016 presidential campaign for political purposes.

If you're unfamiliar with the paranoid depths of the right-wing media universe, this kind of talk probably puzzled you. But make no mistake: The Ukraine fantasies peddled by House Republicans are nothing less than a concerted attempt to do what the GOP has done with all of Trump's misconduct since the beginning of his presidency — to use a combination of denial and redirection to foment skepticism and doubt about the underlying charges.

In this case, the Ukraine meddling red herring is used to justify Trump's obstructive acts and his attempts to extort the Ukrainian government into opening an investigation in exchange for military aid and a White House visit. And if Democrats don't begin a major effort to dismantle this nonsense in public, they may very well lose the battle for public opinion in the same way they allowed themselves to get outfoxed with the Mueller probe.

The conspiracy-theorist-in-chief tries his hand at conspiring

  The conspiracy-theorist-in-chief tries his hand at conspiring Gordon Sondland drew a blank. The details of his July 26 call with President Trump, conducted on a cell phone in a restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine, are fuzzy, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union testified Wednesday at the fourth day of public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry. Yet he has "no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations" Trump allegedly pressured the Ukrainian president to conduct, Sondland said. "Actually, I would have been more surprised if President Trump had not mentioned investigations.

But the craziest thing about the conspiracy theory is that it has legs. That is not quite a smoking gun for those pushing the “Putin did the emails” theory , but it’ s still unsettling and adds another unprecedented subplot to an election that was already overstuffed with them.

Conspiracy theorists are on the national stage like never before, says Atlantic writer Rosie Gray. Alex Jones of Infowars fame is at the forefront.

When referencing the Ukraine ideas, Democrats have called them "discredited" and "debunked" over and over again, which of course they are. But referring to them as such does nothing to prove it to voters who don't read Vox explainers and Washington Post investigative reports. To the kind of "pox on both houses" voters whose mood swings might determine the outcome of the 2020 election, all they hear is people from two parties they hate yelling at one another and accusing each other of the exact same things.

One important reason Democrats must be better prepared to fend off Ukraine-related conspiracy mongering is that Attorney General Barr is preparing some kind of ginned-up report that will line up neatly with Republican efforts in the hearings to pin 2016 election interference on Ukraine. It will suck all of the oxygen out of the proceedings for days or even weeks. Earlier this year, Barr tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham with investigating the origins of the various Trump-Russia investigations in 2016, which culminated in the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2017. The Department of Justice recently revealed, ominously, that this was now a criminal probe. Barr himself has been jet-setting around the world looking for confirmatory evidence.

Donald Trump’s Gordon Problem

  Donald Trump’s Gordon Problem Over the first three days of testimony in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, Republicans have tried out a number of defenses. After the Wednesday testimony of Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, almost all of them have been incinerated. Throughout the proceedings, Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has glowered, sneered and repeated some of the same conspiracy theories that Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, wanted Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to substantiate.

Trump has floated so many conspiracy theories that he’ s developed his own rhetorical flourish to reinforce Trump started channeling Alex Jones in his stump speech: “I’m afraid the election is going to be Republicans spent years attempting to discredit the mainstream media as deceitful and

Fascination with QAnon conspiracy theories has also reached high-profile conservative figures and organizations. Back in Florida, the official account for the Hillsborough County Republican executive committee recently Waurishuk says conspiracy theories are “an unfortunate aspect of politics.”

What's it all about? There are two Ukraine-related conspiracy theories, which are likely to converge in the coming weeks as GOP efforts to save Trump accelerate. The first involves the infamous Russian hacking of the DNC in the spring of 2016, which led to months of leaked emails disseminated via Wikileaks, whose release was often timed to inflict maximum damage on the Clinton campaign. In his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, Trump asked him about "Crowdstrike" and the "server." This references a truly insane, far-right fantasy that in fact it was Ukraine, in collaboration with the Clinton campaign, that hacked the DNC and then blamed it on Russia to make the Trump campaign look guilty.

In this make-believe world, Crowdstrike cofounder Dmitri Alperovitch is a Ukrainian (he is actually an American citizen who serves as a fellow on the august Atlantic Council) who absconded back to his country with the server, and the FBI had to take their word for it that Russia was culpable. Back on Earth-1, on the other hand, Crowdstrike provided the FBI with all of its forensic data, no serious person disputes that Russia was responsible for the hacking, and there is no single "server" which can be physically transported to Kiev.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump, GOP claims on Ukraine corruption

  AP FACT CHECK: Trump, GOP claims on Ukraine corruption WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and his GOP allies pressed a defense Thursday that he acted appropriately in withholding military aid to Ukraine out of concern over the country’s corruption and claimed the House impeachment hearings amounted to a rogue process. The claims don’t match up with known facts. A look at some of the remarks on Day 5 of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee and Trump’s response:CALIFORNIA REP. DEVIN NUNES, the top Republican on the committee: “President Trump had good reason to be wary of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign.”THE FACTS: That’s not credible.

The conspiracy theory underlying the false claim resulted in President Donald Trump seeking foreign election interference from Ukraine , the You won’t find mainstream media bias here. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten. We need your support to keep producing

Fascination with QAnon conspiracy theories has also reached high-profile conservative figures and Waurishuk says conspiracy theories are “an unfortunate aspect of politics.” “It’ s not beneficial,” he told Rick Perry informs Trump of his plans to resign later this year as scrutiny over Ukraine heats up.

The Crowdstrike lunacy has not yet been affirmatively advanced by Republicans in these hearings, although no one should be surprised if it is. But the idea that Ukraine was responsible for triggering the FBI's counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign has now gone mainstream.

The story goes like this: Corrupt Ukrainians fabricated a "black ledger" implicating former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort in various forms of corruption when he was a key advisor to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian stooge, so that the Trump campaign's May 2016 hiring of Manafort as campaign manager would look especially suspicious. In this telling, the incident in which Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos bragged to an Australian diplomat about how Russia had stolen dirt on Clinton was actually a CIA set-up.

The conspiracy theory then alleges that at the same time, Ukrainian embassy officials were working with a consultant named Alexandra Chalupa (who held a minor post with the DNC) to channel incriminating information about Trump and Manafort to reporters and intelligence agencies. CIA Director John Brennan then supposedly manipulated this information and baited the FBI into opening its investigation. (This is why House Republicans put Chalupa on a list of witnesses they wanted to testify.) The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, was using a firm called Fusion GPS, which paid former British spy Christopher Steele to produce a lurid dossier about Trump. (Though of course it wasn't released and was only made public by Buzzfeed after the election.) The FBI, supposedly at Brennan's behest, then improperly used information gleaned from Ukrainians via Chalupa and Steele to trigger its counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. (There's more, of course, but this is an article, not a book.)

Trump Advances Russian Disinformation Campaign in Fox News Interview

  Trump Advances Russian Disinformation Campaign in Fox News Interview Trump Advances Russian Disinformation Campaign in Fox News InterviewPresident Donald Trump on Friday advanced a Russian disinformation campaign aimed at the U.S. and its allies, endorsing a conspiracy theory less than 24 hours after his former top aide testified under oath that it was part of “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services.

How a right-wing conspiracy is going mainstream . Roseanne Barr under fire for conspiracy tweets. Conspiracy theories aimed at Parkland survivors. Back in Florida, the official account for the Hillsborough County Republican executive committee recently tweeted, then deleted, a YouTube

it was inevitable that conspiracy theories would start to snowball online. But what’ s the made the latest “false flag” claims so worrying is that it has been picked up by mainstream conservative Republicans for instance have now increasingly begun adopting George Soros, a recurring enemy of

To simplify for those who are still with me: Corrupt U.S. intelligence officials glommed onto false allegations pushed at them by Ukrainians terrified of a Trump administration and used them to launch years of phony investigations against both candidate and President Trump. The Mueller report, so this story goes, proved that this was all a hoax from the get-go, and now President Trump and Attorney General Barr just want to get to the truth about what really happened.

It should almost go without saying that this is all nonsense, the product of shut-ins decorating large poster boards with paranoid speculation and unsubstantiated rumors and then laundering it all through various luminaries in the right-wing media cocoon. None of it makes any real sense.

To have worked, it had to have involved former CIA director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The number of conspirators must have run into the hundreds, many of whom would have been career public servants (as opposed to political appointees) in the intelligence agencies and the FBI. Yet none of them are talking?

Second, if the FBI was part of a plot to destroy then-candidate Trump, why did FBI Director James Comey then go out of his way to assail Clinton as "extremely careless" in his June 5, 2016, press conference and then theatrically announce that he was looking at new emails just days before the presidential election, a maneuver that may have led directly to her loss?

Third, why would the Clinton campaign have conspired with Ukraine against itself to release a long series of damaging or distracting emails from people like John Podesta?

Fact check: Trump's false claims about Ukraine, DNC server

  Fact check: Trump's false claims about Ukraine, DNC server A day earlier, a key impeachment witness — Trump's former Russia expert — called this conspiracy a "fictional narrative" that serves Moscow's interests.During a nearly hour-long phone interview with "Fox & Friends" Friday morning, Trump defended his administration's freeze on military aid to Ukraine earlier this year as well as his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president that prompted a whistleblower complaint, saying he was simply trying to root out corruption in the country.

This conspiracy theory popped up just at the end of the Presidential race of 2016. Pizzagate had also gone global, and now the pedophile ring had allegedly spread throughout the world — democrat This newly cooked theory spread like wildfire amongst social media, Twitter being the at the head.

The mainstream media is regularly accusing the president of the United States and those around But what isn’t healthy is the relationship between the Trump administration and the mainstream At this point it is exceedingly apparent that they absolutely hate Trump, and they are going to do their

Lastly, in the closing days of the campaign, when the polls had tightened and there was a very real possibility of Trump winning the election, why didn't any of the conspirators do more to release this information to the media? Why would the conspirators bury their own conspiracy?

The problem for Democrats is that these questions don't immediately come to mind for most people. Americans, most of whom who have not read the 448-page Mueller Report and are only dimly aware of the many troubling details about the Trump campaign's efforts to work with Russian hackers to subvert the 2016 election, watched Democrats simply walk away and turn off the lights after Mueller's July 24 testimony before Congress, seemingly resigned to the president's triumphant efforts to obstruct justice. Now Democrats have to contend with this Republican counternarrative, which if not pushed back on aggressively, will appear just as credible to the modestly informed.

It might sound equally bonkers, but Democrats should think about tackling it all head-on, perhaps by calling in a leading Ukraine conspiracy advocate like Sean Hannity to testify before Congress, followed by witnesses like Brennan who can then dismantle it all piece by piece. There is no way that Hannity or anyone else would be able to hold it together through hours of interrogation by Daniel Goldman, who capably led some of the questioning for House Democrats in last week's hearings. Give Republicans their wish and bring in Chalupa, who is desperate to testify. Bring in Alperovitch. If they really want to stop the news cycle and force everyone to watch, bring in former President Obama himself. Take a week, and blow the whole kooky theory to pieces.

Remember: This is all one story. The Trump-Giuliani Ukraine caper was partly about screwing with the 2020 election, but it was also about fabricating evidence to support the administration's nutso counter-narrative that the real villains in 2016 weren't the Russians but rather Ukrainians and Obama administration officials from the "deep state" working together to smear Our Great President. The behavior that led to these impeachment hearings is part of a maximalist plot to completely exonerate both Russia and the president of any wrongdoing, all driven by Trump's thin-skinned obsession with legitimacy, and his administration's barely-concealed hunger to engage in further abuses of power.

If they get away with this, they can get away with anything, and they know it. That's why Democrats need to take the time to get this story right, and convince the public that there is nothing to the GOP's Ukraine fever dreams but sweaty sheets and bad faith.

Pompeo suggests debunked Ukraine election meddling theory should be probed .
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday suggested that Ukraine should be investigated over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 election, a debunked theory advanced by President Donald Trump that witnesses told the congressional impeachment inquiry was spread by Russian spy agencies. Pompeo was asked at a news conference if the United States should probe accusations of Ukrainian election meddling that Trump's fellow Republicans have raised in the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives probe into whether Trump abused his power for domestic political gain.

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