Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has hit out at the GOP for propagating conspiracy theories regarding Ukraine, describing the party as an "important global asset" of the Russian intelligence services.
President Donald Trump and his Republican Party allies have come under fire for pushing a conspiracy theory alleging that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a bid to influence the race in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the same allegations, attempting to deflect the conclusions of U.S. intelligence services, Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller that Moscow directed a systematic campaign of interference in the 2016 election.
Despite all the evidence of Russian involvement and the lack of evidence of Ukrainian action, Trump and his allies have continued to spread the accusations.
On Sunday, Murphy expressed concern at the direction his colleagues across the aisle appear to be heading in. "Call me old fashioned, but I think it's a little unsavory the Republican Party is becoming the most important global asset of Russian intel," he tweeted.
He added, "I get it, Russia's bonkers 'Ukraine did it, not Russia' story is all the GOP has to defend their guy, but really?"
GOP representatives recently alluded to the theory during public impeachment investigation hearings regarding the president's Ukraine strategy.
This prompted a sharp rebuke from Fiona Hill, the former top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council, who had been called to give evidence on Trump's alleged efforts to secure a Ukrainian investigation into possible 2020 rival Joe Biden in exchange for frozen military aid.
The British-born diplomat told members of the House Intelligence Committee, "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 branded such a suggestion "a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
Even after Hill's testimony, Trump himself suggested on Fox News that there were "very interesting" links between the Democrats and Ukraine. The president claimed that Democratic National Committee servers—hacked by Russia in 2016—were actually hacked by Kiev and secretly spirited away to Ukraine as part of a cover up.
The Washington Post fact checker—which uses a "Pinocchio Test" to analyze veracity—said there are "not enough Pinocchios" to show how baseless Trump's Ukrainian conspiracy theory is.
Trump claimed the servers were given to a company called CrowdStrike, which Trump said is owned by "a very wealthy Ukrainian." CrowdStrike is actually an American internet security company co-founded by Russian-born Dmitri Alperovitch, who is also an American citizen.
In reality, the servers are not in Ukraine, and the FBI did not consider it necessary to take custody of the hardware for its investigation. Instead, the bureau used forensic images from CrowdStrike which first reported the 2016 Russian hack, the Post reported.
"It is dismaying that despite all of the evidence assembled by his top aides, Trump keeps repeating debunked theories and inaccurate claims that he first raised more than two years ago," said Glenn Kessler, the chief writer for the Post's fact checker.