CNN’s new hire, former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), has used his first two appearances on the network to push a conspiracy theory that has already been widely debunked -- including by CNN’s own reporting.
The debunked Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump improperly withheld congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine. The theory posits that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of the Democrats -- conveniently exonerating Russia’s efforts to aid Trump -- and that a Ukrainian-owned company tried to cover the tracks and took the Democratic National Committee’s computer server that was hacked to Ukraine.
In reality, the FBI and Congress have investigated the 2016 election and found that Russia meddled extensively to push for Trump’s win. The company at the center of the conspiracy theory -- CrowdStrike -- is headquartered in the United States, not Ukraine. And there was never a physical DNC server that could’ve been taken to Ukraine.
But Trump still mentioned this theory during his now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it." Thomas Bossert, Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said on September 29 that the theory “has no validity” and that he had warned Trump that he was chasing after a debunked conspiracy theory.
Duffy has used his first two appearances on CNN to argue that Trump was right to pressure Ukraine to look into the conspiracy theory, even though it “may be” debunked. In both instances, Duffy received strong pushback, begging the question why CNN would hire a bad-faith conspiracy theorist who undermines CNN’s own reporting and needs to be fact-checked on-air.
CNN's Chris Cillizza even responded to Duffy directly.