SALT LAKE CITY — Unlike some of his Republican colleagues, Sen. Mitt Romney isn’t warming to the debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.
“I saw no evidence from our intelligence community nor from our representatives today from the Department of State that there is any evidence of any kind that suggests Ukraine interfered in our elections,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We have ample evidence that Russia interfered in our elections.”
The Utah Republican’s comments came after a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting in which Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said he was not aware of any Ukraine meddling in the election.
Some Republicans have defended President Donald Trump’s demand for political investigations from Ukraine by claiming that its government tried to sabotage his candidacy and boost Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Russia was very aggressive and they’re much more sophisticated, but the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President (Petro) Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”
But the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee thoroughly investigated that theory, according to people with direct knowledge of the inquiry, and found no evidence that Ukraine waged a top-down interference campaign akin to the Russia’s efforts to help Trump win in 2016, Politico reported.
Recent actions by Russia:— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) December 3, 2019
❌Interfered in U.S. elections
❌Major upgrades to nuclear arsenal
❌Invaded Ukraine and Georgia
❌Aggressively invested in the Middle East
❌Development of new weapons
❌Violated INF treaty
We can’t allow Russia to continue down this dangerous path. pic.twitter.com/BBpRQz3A80
In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.Y., asked Hale if he was aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. Hale said that he was not.
Menendez noted that Fiona Hill, former National Security Council director for Europe and Russia, told a House committee that theory is a “fictional narrative” being perpetuated by Russian officials. He then asked Hale if U.S. national security is made stronger or weaker when members of the Trump administration or Congress insist in repeating debunked Russian lies.
We need to be clear-eyed about Russia’s intentions. Russia has no intentions of halting its malign activity—activity that is not conducive to a peaceful world. We must develop a comprehensive strategy, instead of just ad hoc sanctions, that diverts Russia from its current path. pic.twitter.com/WcjDKENWuv— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) December 3, 2019
“That does not serve our interests,” Hale said.
Romney in the hearing said he appreciated Trump pushing back against China, but “I wonder whether the same is occurring today with regards to Russia on the part of the administration.”
Russia has taken some “extraordinarily alarming” actions, including upgrading its nuclear arsenal, aggressively investing in the Middle East, violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and interfering in elections in the U.S. and around the world, Romney said.
“We can’t allow Russia to continue down this dangerous path,” he said.