U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday suggested a debunked theory of Ukraine election meddling in 2016 should be investigated - A concept advanced by President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
During a Tuesday news conference, a reporter asked Pompeo about the potential for an investigation: (SOUNDBITE)(English) MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "Anytime there is information that indicates that any country has messed with American elections, we not only have a right but a duty to make sure we chase that down.” It’s unclear what information Pompeo is referring to.
He also added that even a suggestion of interference should be probed.
Pompeo’s comments were in stark contrast to his own endorsement of a 2017 U.S. intelligence community assessment that Russia – not Ukraine – hacked into the Democratic servers and stole emails, all in an effort to influence the 2016 election - to benefit Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Russia denies interfering.
Just last week, a key witnesses in the congressional impeachment hearings told lawmakers that the allegation of Ukrainian election interference was fiction, and a lie spread by Russia.
U.S. intelligence analyst Fiona Hill until recently was the top Russia expert at the White House.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) FIONA HILL, SAYING: "This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.
The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016." Hill said that Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, tried to steer Trump away from the idea… Bossert calling it “a completely debunked” conspiracy theory.
The impeachment inquiry is focused on whether Trump abused his power by pushing Ukraine to probe the interference allegation and unfounded corruption charges against former Vice President Joe Biden in return for a White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and unfreezing U.S. security aid for his country to defend against Moscow-backed separatists.
Pompeo Tuesday dodged a question of whether he would testify in the inquiry after Trump tweeted that he would “love” for senior officials to appear.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: “When the time is right, all good things happen."