When a top Republican says Russian propaganda has infected the GOP

When a top Republican says Russian propaganda has infected the GOP

The Washington Post reports:

During the first impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in 2019, former Trump national security aide Fiona Hill made an extraordinary plea. Seated in front of congressional Republicans, she implored them not to spread Russian propaganda.

“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” she told them. She was referring to comments they had made during her earlier deposition breathing life into a baseless, Trump-backed suggestion that Ukraine, rather than Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

“These fictions are harmful even if they’re deployed for purely domestic political purposes,” she added.

Republicans on the committee blanched at the suggestion that they had served as conduits for Russian misinformation, but Hill refused to back down.

Five years later, Republicans are starting to grapple more publicly with the idea that this kind of thing is happening in their ranks.

The most striking example came this week. In an interview with Puck News’s Julia Ioffe, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) — none other than the GOP chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — flat-out said that Russian propaganda had “infected a good chunk of my party’s base.”

McCaul suggested conservative media was to blame.

“There are some more nighttime entertainment shows that seem to spin, like, I see the Russian propaganda in some of it — and it’s almost identical [to what they’re saying on Russian state television] — on our airwaves,” McCaul said.

He also cited “these people that read various conspiracy-theory outlets that are just not accurate, and they actually model Russian propaganda.”

Asked which Republicans specifically he was talking about, McCaul said it was “obvious,” before staff intervened and asked that the conversation go off the record. [Continue reading…]

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