President Trump on Wednesday promoted a conspiracy theory about Ukraine that his aides had warned him repeatedly was “completely debunked.”
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump defended his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s pursuit of alleged corruption in Ukraine — an effort that is now part of the impeachment inquiry into the president.
During a July 25 phone call that was flagged by an intelligence community whistleblower, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Giuliani or Attorney General William Barr to investigate Joe Biden, his son Hunter and the Democratic National Committee server that was hacked by Russia in 2016.
“Rudy was one of many people that was incensed at the corruption that took place during that election,” Trump said. “For instance, I still ask the FBI, ‘Where is the server?’ How come the FBI never got the server from the DNC? Where is the server? I want to see the server.”
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies concluded that the hack of the DNC server was carried out by Russians. According to CNN, the FBI “looked at the imaged copies of the DNC — essentially an electronic copy of everything that was on the server” and determined that Moscow was behind the hack. The fact that investigators never looked at the physical server has led some conspiracy theorists, and now the president, to suggest foul play.
The president claimed “they say” the server “is being held by a company owned by an individual who is from Ukraine.”
“They” would appear to be wrong. CrowdStrike, a U.S. cybersecurity firm that helped the DNC conduct the investigation, was referenced by Trump during his call with Zelensky. Fringe conspiracy theorists have falsely claimed that CrowdStrike’s founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is Ukrainian and would therefore have a motive to blame the hack on Russia. But Alperovitch is not Ukrainian; he is a Russian-born U.S. citizen.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” in late September, Tom Bossert, who served as Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said he and his staff repeatedly told the president there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the 2016 election.
“It is completely debunked,” Bossert said. “I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.”
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