MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and other panelists on his show ripped Republicans on Monday for repeating conspiracy theories, with Financial Times editor Edward Luce accusing “the entire GOP” of being assets of Russia.
Luce’s remarks, and the general discussion on “Morning Joe,” were fueled by comments made by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
Kennedy tangled with the show’s host, Chuck Todd, after the senator said former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko “actively worked for” 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Todd ripped Kennedy for his statements arguing that Ukraine interfered in the election.
“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP lawmaker who left his party over Trump, accused Kennedy of repeating a talking point from Russian President Vladimir Putin with his remarks, something Todd also argued on Sunday.
“You have Republicans going on national television repeating Putin talking points,” Scarborough said of Kennedy.
Scarborough said U.S. intelligence agencies themselves have concluded that Russia and not Ukraine sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that this information had been delivered to the White House and Congress.
“The United States Senate even got a warning from the intel agencies, Donald Trump’s intel agencies, that this is propaganda that Vladimir Putin has been trying to push for the past several years,” he said.
“We know with Donald Trump, all roads lead to Moscow. All roads lead to Putin. We know that,” Scarborough said before returning to his criticism of Kennedy and other GOP lawmakers defending Trump.
“The question is, why is the Republican Party, why are conservatives who claim to be against Russian expansionism and authoritarianism, why are they willingly repeating Russian talking points made up by an ex-KGB officer?” Scarborough said.
Luce, the national editor of the Financial Times, also said Kennedy was repeating a conspiracy theory in arguing that Ukraine was responsible for meddling in the 2016 election.
“I think Fiona Hill was absolutely right when she said this is a conspiracy theory, an alternative reality that was cooked up in the Kremlin, and that, from farm to fork, is now coming out of Sen. Kennedy’s mouth,” Luce said, referring to testimony last month from a White House official who criticized Republicans for pushing conspiracy theories related to Ukraine.
Scarborough then asked what that said about where the GOP stood as the House Judiciary Committee prepares for hearings this week on Trump’s possible impeachment.
Luce said it wasn’t particularly surprising that Republicans like Kennedy were trying to throw “dust” into the impeachment debate by raising questions about Ukraine.
“They can attack the process, which they are trying to do by refusing to cooperate, and they can just try and throw enough dust in our eyes so we get confused and think ‘Oh Russia, Ukraine, you know, well, they’re all pretty much the same, each side is as bad as each other.’”
“And it seems to be working with their base,” Luce concluded, saying it seemed unlikely that any GOP lawmakers would vote to impeach Trump.
Scarborough and Luce returned to the subject later, criticizing Republicans for having their party be taken over by Trump.
Scarborough had earlier noted that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was once recorded before the 2016 election stating that Trump was being paid off by Putin. GOP aides after the call became public said that McCarthy had been joking.
Luce said it could be argued that the entire GOP is a Russian asset given the arguments made by Kennedy and others.
“And that’s the thing. To essentially say that he’s a Russian asset is therefore now, if you extrapolate from Kevin McCarthy’s words, to say that the entire GOP is a Russian asset,” Luce said.