Spicer’s comments on Monday were likely based on a January report by Politico on how some Ukrainian government officials sought to help Hillary Clinton and hurt Donald Trump, who they viewed as too friendly with their “hostile” neighbour Russia, the Washington Free Beacon news portal reported.
The Politico report went on to say that a Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) “met top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia”. Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016.
Spicer was asked whether Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko had discussed making amends for “their efforts to undermine Trump’s campaign” when the two leaders met last month, the news portal reported.
“There’s been a lot more interest in recent days with respect to what the DNC did in coordination with the Ukrainian government to try to collude and achieve a goal of having someone removed, which ultimately did happen,” Spicer said.
“I don’t know whether that came up with the President … I know that story and the DNC’s collusion with the Ukrainian government has definitely gotten a lot more attention since that meeting, so I’m not sure that it was necessarily topical at the time,” he said.
US Representative Adam Schiff said that Democrats getting help of any kind from the Ukrainians was not “appropriate”, and added that the efforts on their behalf did not compare to the Kremlin campaign to help Trump.
Spicer’s use of the word “collusion” was in reference to the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election and hurt Clinton’s candidacy.