“Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?” Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy asked on Friday after Donald Trump ranted for several minutes about a conspiracy theory that a Ukrainian-based company helped the Democratic National Committee frame Russia for interference in the 2016 election.
“Well, that is what the word is,” the president replied.
On Sunday morning, it was up to White House counsel Kellyanne Conway to defend that baseless claim and she more or less came up empty-handed.
“The president gave an extended interview on Fox on Friday, and he said once again that they, meaning Ukraine, have the server from the Democratic National Committee,” Margaret Brennan told Conway on Face the Nation. “Fiona Hill, the Russia expert formerly of the Trump White House, said this is something that's propagated by Russian security services- services. It's false narrative.”
With that, the host presented an excerpt from a 60 Minutes report airing Sunday night in which John Demers, the Justice Department official in charge of investigating the 2016 election, completely debunks the idea that anyone besides the Russians is responsible for “hacking and dumping” DNC emails.
“Well, our indictment spells out what it is—the evidence that we have has shown, which is it was the Russians who were behind the hacking and dumping of the Democratic campaign in 2016,” Demers said. “We could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Then came this question from Brennan: “Why doesn’t the president believe his own Justice Department and intelligence experts?”
“But the president has said he accepts that,” Conway answered, misleadingly, before undercutting her own point. “But also, there are plenty of ways to interfere in elections.” She then proceeded to deflect by saying, “if we're doing this, we're back to Mueller and we've already spent two and a half years and thirty five million taxpayer dollars for a Mueller report that was produced in March. It was a big bomb.”
Instead of answering Brennan’s direct questions about Trump’s preferred conspiracy theory, Conway began warning that the “mainstream media” could “interfere in the 2020 election the way they tried in the 2016 election.”
“She's going to win. He has zero percent chance of winning,” Conway said, repeating the conventional wisdom in 2016. “That's a different kind of interference, and that's dangerous, too.”
She could not ultimately explain or defend why the president refusing to take his own Justice Department and intelligence officials at their word.