Even if the only thing Republicans had to go by were the expert conclusions and advice of Dr. Fiona Hill, that should be enough. Her findings are clearly not the only thing GOP officials have heard about Russia's efforts to blame Ukraine for the Kremlin's attack on the United States' 2016 elections, but Hill's credibility and expertise are without rival, and should therefore be sufficient to persuade even the most far-right American officials.
And as Hill, the former top Russia expert on the White House National Security Council, reminded Republicans last week, the idea that Ukraine was responsible for the 2016 attack is a "false narrative" being "perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services." It is, in no uncertain terms, Kremlin propaganda intended to hurt the United States.
But Hill's advice is not the only guidance GOP officials have received on the subject. The New York Times reported late last week that American intelligence professionals have "informed senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia had engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow's own hacking of the 2016 election."
On Saturday, in response to the Times' reporting, David Laufman, who served as the Justice Department's top counterintelligence official, wrote, "From this moment forward, any member of Congress or U.S. government official who persists in making this claim is, essentially, aiding and abetting the enemy."
And yet, as Rachel noted on Friday's show, a few too many Republicans can't seem to help themselves. In this case, it's not just Donald Trump, whose eagerness to toe Moscow's line has been well documented; it's also top GOP members of Congress, up to and including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who've been willing to cast public doubt about the findings of their own country's intelligence agencies, even if that means inadvertently aiding Russian security services.
This applies to senators, too. For example, on Meet the Press yesterday, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told host Chuck Todd that Fiona Hill is "correct that Russia tried to interfere in 2016." In his next breath, however, Wicker added, "Also, Ukrainians themselves tried to interfere also."
Around the same time, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) appeared on Fox News Sunday, where Chris Wallace asked the Louisiana Republican whether he believes Russia or Ukraine was responsible for the attack we already know Russia perpetrated.
"I don't know, nor do you, nor do any of us," Kennedy said. "Ms. Hill is entitled to her opinion."
Wallace responded that the "entire" intelligence community points to Russia's culpability.
"Right, but it could also be Ukraine," Kennedy said.
Perhaps Kennedy missed David Laufman's declaration from a day earlier.