Ted Cruz Claims Ukraine Meddled in 2016 U.S. Election, Defends Trump Despite Previous Attacks

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz joined a number of GOP lawmakers claiming without evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Speaking with NBC's Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on Sunday, Cruz repeatedly argued that the Ukrainian government and the Russian government were among several foreign actors who meddled in the 2016 election that saw Donald Trump voted into the Oval Office. Cruz said Trump has been "far tougher" on Russia, and much more helpful to Ukraine, than former President Barack Obama "ever was." He went on to actually defend Trump's 2016 Republican primary attacks against his wife, faith and Canadian place of birth.

Despite Cruz's claim of Ukraine meddling, which he did not back with proof, a GOP-led Senate panel last week found no evidence Ukraine interfered on Hillary Clinton's behalf in the 2016 presidential election. Top White House officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other Republicans, have repeatedly floated the theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic National Committee emails in 2016.

"Do you believe Ukraine meddled in the election in 2016?" Todd asked Cruz Sunday.

"I do, and I believe there is considerable evidence," Cruz replied.

"You do?" asked a visibly-stunned Todd.

Cruz complained that the media continues to ask if "Ukraine, and not Russia" interfered in the 2016 election, which the Texas GOP senator says is a false and misleading framing of the question. "Of course Russia interfered in our election, nobody looking at the evidence disputes that," Cruz said, before Todd shot back, "the president of the United States does."

"This strikes me as odd, when you went through a primary campaign with this president. He launched a birther-ism campaign against you, he went after your faith, he threatened to 'spill the beans about your wife' about something, and he pushed a National Enquirer story..." Todd said, pointing out Trump's past attacks on the senator.

"I appreciate you dragging up all that garbage, that's very kind of you," Cruz, who ran as a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, replied sarcastically.

Cruz described a current defense bill as an example of how tangible, "substantive policy" pushed under Trump has been "tougher on Russia by orders of magnitude than Barack Obama ever was."

"And yet the media is playing along with this 'show trial' the Democrats are putting on in the House and I'm disgusted with it," Cruz continued, before being asked whether Trump's alleged quid pro quo and delayed aid to Ukraine "played into the hands" of Russia.

"Throughout the Obama administration, I repeatedly pressed President Obama to give lethal aid to Ukraine. I traveled to Ukraine, in Kyiv, and they needed lethal aid. But the Obama administration sent teddy bears and MREs [meals-ready to eat]. They wouldn't actually give weapons," Cruz said.

The senator repeatedly claimed the Trump administration has been very tough on Russia and very helpful toward Ukraine, which he says the U.S. news media continues to ignore.

"You know Chuck, substance matters. By any measure, the president's policies, this administration's policies, has been tougher on Russia, and actually better for Ukraine, than Obama's was," Cruz insisted.

"Have you asked yourself why is it that this administration continues to publicly say tough things about Russia, but in their actions, they don't seem to get tough on Russia," Todd asked Cruz.

Cruz went on to predict that he would help Congress pass bipartisan legislation, which seeks to block Russia's controversial Gazprom Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Vyborg, Russia and Greifswald, Germany. U.S. leaders have expressed fears the multibillion dollar pipeline could be used as a political tool to circumvent the Ukraine and prevent the U.S. from selling its own natural gas to Europe.

chuck todd ted cruz ukraine
Senator Ted Cruz claimed without evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 president election before defending Trump for mocking his wife, faith, Canadian birth in the primary. Screenshot: NBC News | Meet the Press