The State Department’s No. 3 official on Tuesday flatly rejected a conspiracy theory pushed by President Donald Trump and his personal attorney that it was Ukraine who systematically interfered in the 2016 election, not Russia.
In a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on U.S. policy toward Russia, David Hale, the department’s undersecretary for political affairs, succinctly summed up the findings of the U.S. intelligence community in response to questioning from the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez.
“Secretary Hale, did Russia interfere in the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump?” the New Jersey Democrat asked.
“Yes, the intelligence community assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at our presidential election,” Hale replied, reading from what appeared to be a prepared response.
“Was the Kremlin’s interference in our 2016 election a hoax?” Menendez followed up, echoing the president’s own language, and eliciting a swift “no” from Hale.
“Are you aware of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election?” Menendez continued, to which Hale responded: “I am not.”