Ordinarily, when a television news program invites a member of Congress on to discuss public affairs, the host asks the questions and the lawmaker tries to answer them. On CNN last night, that dynamic was reversed a bit, as Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) started asking questions, which host Chris Cuomo seemed eager to answer.
At issue was the Republican Party's ongoing support for a Russian-backed conspiracy theory that Ukraine was responsible for the attack on U.S. elections in 2016. In context, this exchange followed Cuomo's explanation that GOP officials keep echoing a Kremlin disinformation message intended to undermine U.S. interests.
WEBER: Chris, was CrowdStrike involved in the DCCC hacking?CUOMO: Yes.WEBER: Is CrowdStrike in part owned by a Ukrainian?CUOMO: No.WEBER: Really?CUOMO: Yes.WEBER: That's not the information that we have.CUOMO: You have bad information.
It's a problem that Republicans are peddling crackpot conspiracy theories. It's a problem that Republicans are echoing a message concocted by the Kremlin to help Russia and hurt us.
But in a case like this, what I find especially amazing is that a GOP member of Congress, after having many months to familiarize himself with his own party's talking points, went on national television and made clear that he doesn't yet understand the basic details of his own crackpot conspiracy theory.
The truth is unambiguous and has been readily available for quite some time: "CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a cyber and national security expert who was born in Russia and now is a U.S. citizen; he is not Ukrainian."
To the extent that reality still has meaning, it wouldn't matter of CrowdStrike's co-founder were Ukrainian. He's not, of course, but it wouldn't matter if he were.
What matters is that Russia attacked the United States in order to help put Trump in power, and Trump's party, for reasons it hasn't fully explained, is eager to advance Moscow's disinformation campaign about the attack.
And in Randy Weber's case, it appears some Republicans haven't yet brushed up on the most basic elements of their own nonsensical argument.