Sean Duffy, the former Real World reality TV star-turned-Republican politician, is already starting controversies at CNN after the network brought him on as a political commentator this week.
Duffy, who announced his resignation from Congress in August, kicked off his first contributor appearances on CNN to promote President Donald Trump’s Ukraine-CrowdStrike conspiracy theory, which his own network has “totally debunked.” The theory is based on the false premise that the Ukrainian government tampered in the 2016 presidential election to aid Democrats by using the U.S.-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to transfer a hacked DNC server to Ukraine; however, the narrative falls apart due to the fact that there is no physical server that could be moved to Ukraine to begin with.
The conspiracy became a focus in the president’s impeachment scandal after Trump claimed he reached out to newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to get to the bottom of this supposed aspect of 2016 election interference. The theory has since been rolled out by the administration and its allies to obfuscate Trump’s effort to have Zelensky launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
During a Monday appearance on CNN’s New Day, Duffy used his new role at the network to allege Trump’s chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney was “actually trying to find the server that was the DNC server which was at the heart of the Russia investigation” when the White House aide admitted that there was a quid-pro-quo aspect in the president’s military aid offer to Ukraine — a comment that Mulvaney has since attempted to backtrack on.
After CNN host Alisyn Camerota interjected to tell Duffy he was citing “a conspiracy theory,” the former Wisconsin lawmaker doubled-down: “Hold on a second. Where it’s at might be in the Ukraine or somewhere else? That might be a conspiracy. But the fact that Mick Mulvaney is talking about advancing that investigation, the 2016 Russia investigation, we should applaud that.”
Duffy went on to say that Trump was requesting that Ukraine “give us the server so we can give it to the FBI because the FBI never got the server.”
“Ukraine doesn’t have the server, Sean,” Camerota fired back after she was again forced to fact-check her new colleague. “You’re going to hold up military assistance because of that conspiracy theory?”
After the segment aired, CNN commentator Chris Cillizza took to Twitter to take a shot to Duffy’s conspiracy push.