Despite testimony, Trump promotes debunked Ukraine conspiracy theory

President Donald Trump on Friday promoted a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, a day after a former White House adviser called it a “fictional narrative” and said it played into Russia’s hands.

Trump called in to “Fox & Friends” and said he was trying to root out corruption in the Eastern European nation when he withheld aid over the summer. Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president is at the centre of the House impeachment probe, which is looking into Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate political rivals as he held back nearly $400 million.

He also worked to undercut witnesses at the hearings, including the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump recalled from her post in Kiev. The president called her an “Obama person” and claimed without evidence that she didn’t want his picture to hang on the walls of the embassy.

“There are a lot of things that she did that I didn’t like,” he said, adding that he asked why administration officials were being so kind to her. “‘Well, sir, she’s a woman. We have to be nice,’ he said they told him. Without providing details, Trump said he viewed her differently. “She’s very tough. I heard bad things,” he said.

He repeated his assertion that Ukrainians might have hacked the Democratic National Committee’s network in 2016 and framed Russia for the crime, a theory his own advisers have dismissed.

“They gave the server to CrowdStrike, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian,” Trump said. “I still want to see that server. The FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing.”

The president in the wide-ranging interview also claimed that he knows the identity of the whistleblower who filed the formal complaint that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

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