House impeachment managers on Thursday zeroed in on President Trump's mention of a debunked theory on his call with Ukraine, alleging during the second day of their opening arguments that the president stood to benefit in his reelection campaign from the idea that Kyiv interfered in the 2016 election.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff spent several minutes Thursday afternoon focusing on the theory that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), one that Trump has continued to mention despite his own advisers repeatedly pushing back on it as debunked, The Hill reports.
Mentioning statements from Trump’s former aides, including impeachment witness and former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill, Schiff described the theory as "brought to you by the Kremlin" and alleged Trump was motivated by his own political ambitions in raising it with Ukraine.
"What the president is talking about here is a very specific conspiracy theory going to the server itself, meaning that it was Ukraine that hacked the Democratic server, not the Russians. This theory was brought to you by the Kremlin," Schiff said in remarks from the Senate floor during the second day of House Democrats' arguments.
"On the basis of this Russian propaganda, he withheld $400 million in military aid to a nation Russia was fighting – our ally," Schiff said, reiterating the allegation Trump used military assistance as a cudgel to push for investigations from Ukraine.
Schiff went on to argue that, while pushing the theory would have benefited Russia, it also would have benefited Trump's reelection by providing him with "talking points" as he campaigns for another four years in the Oval Office.
The House voted along party lines to impeach Trump for abusing his power by pressing Ukraine for investigations that could benefit him politically. Trump has denied wrongdoing and the White House has described the president as the victim as a partisan charade by House Democrats.
Tom Bossert, Trump's former homeland security adviser, told ABC in September said the conspiracy theory had been "completely debunked" and singled out Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani for pushing it.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has also said the bureau has no evidence indicating Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election; Mueller as well as the congressional intelligence committees have also backed the intelligence assessment that Russia meddled in the vote.