Trump Continues to Promote False and Debunked Ukraine DNC Server Conspiracy Theory
President Donald Trump appeared on Hannity Monday night and repeated much of the very same defensive and offensive political rhetoric he has shared in the past week on Twitter, during White House press sprays and recent political rallies. Lost in the predictable, however, was his doubling down on the widely debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine was somehow in possession of a DNC server that lay at the center of the 2016 election hacking that saw him rise to the highest office.
Trump and his allies have tried many narrative strategies to defend a damning July 25th phone call between the president and Ukrainian President Voldymor Zelinsky in which many have seen a clear quid pro quo between military aid withheld by the White House and a Ukrainian investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.
During that call, Trump also asked the favor of an investigation into cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike and mentioned the server. Only, the notion that Ukraine is somehow is in possession of a DNC server has been debunked by political pundits on both sides of the aisle.
Trump hit this note in his interview with Sean Hannity as well. After dismissing a Mueller Report that found “no collusion” he returned to the DNC server issue. “There was a server, the DNC server that had never went to the FBI, the FBI didn’t take it. It was taken by somebody I guess it’s Crowdstrike, that’s what I have heard,” the President said. He finished “That is not an election going into the future. That is for a past election that was a catastrophe.”
Writing for the Washington Examiner, conservative thought leader and Fox News contributor Byron York detailed Trump’s thinking on Ukraine in a five-point outline. While he posits the political benefits of Trump’s new interest in investigating the 2016 election interference but notes Trump’s curiosity “appears to have no basis in fact.”
4.) Trump’s desire to see Ukraine assist in an inquiry of the Russia-2016 campaign investigation. To some readers, the most baffling portion of the Trump-Zelensky rough transcript was when Trump said, “Our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.”
It turned out that Trump was curious about a theory, one which appears to have no basis in fact, that someone in Ukraine somehow possesses the Democratic National Committee server that was hacked in 2016 and which the DNC did not let investigators examine. But there is a larger issue in what Trump said, and that is the ongoing Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. It’s publicly known that John Durham, the U.S. attorney chosen by Attorney General William Barr to conduct the investigation, has been in contact with a number of foreign countries, including Ukraine, as part of the investigation. Trump has also heard from some Republicans that some Ukrainian officials had information to offer U.S. investigators. So he wanted Ukrainian assistance.
The “server in Ukraine” conspiracy is still being promoted by the most dutiful and willingly misinformed Trump surrogates. Take for example former Congressman Sean Duffy who recently signed on as a CNN contributor and took no time to spread disinformation on CNN’s airwaves. Jay Caruso, Managing Editor of Washington Examiner has different thoughts, however:
Good lord. There is no server. The DNC email was cloud-based spread out over 140 network servers. The idea there was this lone box, which is now hidden somewhere in Ukraine containing all the DNC emails, is Alex Jones level stuff. https://t.co/lgp2UljEHg
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) October 21, 2019
Writing for AP, Frank Bajak outlines the specific “fictions” underlying the Ukraine-election interference theory:
Ukraine and Russia have been bitter foes since Russia’s 2014 military intervention and annexation of Crimea. Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about a purported Ukrainian link to the DNC hack began circulating almost immediately after it was discovered.
Some propagated by Russian media and online included mention of a supposed “hidden DNC server,” which acolytes of the Republican political operative Roger Stone picked up and circulated.
Stone is set to stand trial in November for allegedly lying to Congress, obstructing justice and witness tampering after getting swept up in the Mueller probe. He has claimed that CrowdStrike is concealing evidence that could presumably clear Russia of culpability.
A judge recently denied Stone’s efforts to challenge the investigation into the hack. Stone sought to suppress search warrants that he alleged were based on faulty assumptions from CrowdStrike, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said there was no evidence anyone in the FBI had “played fast and loose with the truth” in applying for the warrants.
In fact, CrowdStrike has also worked for the GOP. It helped the National Republican Congressional Committee investigate email thefts by unidentified hackers during the 2018 campaign, the company told the AP in December.
The political benefits for Trump to continue to promote this theory that somehow Ukraine played a significant role in the 2016 election interference are clear. And it is not clear if Trump truly believes this to be true or is aware that it is a baseless conspiracy that he continues to promote as part of a disinformation campaign.
But what is clear is that advisors close to Trump are doing him, and the nation at large, a grave disservice by allowing the Commander in Chief to go on national television and debase the office of the president by promoting a theory that is widely accepted as NOT true.
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