I’ll admit this – the narrative of the two investigations in return for aid money gets long and complicated, due to the many official involved and various meetings and encounters. And as in any organization, there were a lot of short hand expressions, such as “2016 elections” which needs some explanation. So, here is how Trump laid it all out:
Trump began, “A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine. They have the server, right? From the DNC — Democratic National Committee. The FBI went in and they told them ‘get out of here, you’re not getting it, we’re not giving it to you.’”
He continued, “They gave the server to CrowdStrike, or whatever it’s called, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. And I still want to see that server. You know the FBI has never gotten that server, that’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”
When Doocy asked Trump “Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?”, the president seemed to wobble, saying “Well, that’s what the word is.”
It’s is very wrong on a whole series of levels. It begins with a huge lie. One of the founder of Crowdstrike, is Dmitri Alperovitch, is a Russian-American who has lived in the US since 1994 with no connections to the Ukraine. The other two co-founders are George Kurtz and Gregg Morrison and are as American as apple pie. I felt a bit silly looking up where each of the co-founders were born. So the narrative begins with a “Pants on fire” lie. When a computer gets hacked, the signs of the hack can be pretty subtle and not discovered for months. A small piece of code, had been inserted into the server, which facilitated unauthorized access to critical files. There is no need to physically remove the server and dust for fingerprints.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) called Crowdstrike, to determine if, in fact, the security had been breached and information stolen. The top priority is to remove any unauthorized code on the system to prevent future access. A secondary objective would be to figure out the origins of the code. The code in this case, has been identified as
Now, there is a badly misconstrued morsel of truth, in what Trump is saying. The DNC did decline an odd request by the FBI to allow the illegal access to continue, in order to get more evidence on the hacker activities. I think this was very reasonable given the elections were 5 months away and a miserable time to conduct a sting operation. From the Daily Beast website:
The DNC turned down one unusual FBI request early in the hack investigation. The bureau wanted access to the DNC’s network while the Russians were still in it, most likely to stage a counter operation against the GRU. The DNC declined, perhaps reluctant to have two intelligence agencies playing capture-the-flag in their systems five months before a presidential election. The DNC later authorized Crowdstrike to share full copies of the hacked servers with the bureau, giving the FBI access to the same evidence Crowdstrike had.
The GRU is the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military. The full copies of the server would generally be referred to as “cloned copies” allowing the forensic experts to examine an exact copy of the operating system at the time the copy was made. Crowdstrike turned over all copies of the servers it made and all analysis to the FBI, who reached the same conclusion that the hack came from Russia. Other organizations made the same conclusion. Robert Mueller secured Grand Jury indictments on 12 GRU agents responsible for interference in US elections, including hacking.
But just for grins, let’s follow the Trump’s crazy story. The FBI comes knocking on the door demanding the DNC turn over the server. Instead of complying with the FBI, the IT guys at the DNC call Crowdstrike, which takes physical possession of the server and puts it on a plane to the Ukraine. I guess they do this in the dead of night, so nobody sees them pulling out all the equipment. (fails the laugh test). Now, Ukraine has total access to all the Democratic emails, by way of Crowdstrike operating under the orders of the DNC and they subsequently leak them to Wikileaks. We know that the FBI and others involved in computer forensics got the cloned copy of the server and concluded that this hack was done by the Russians. So it follows that Crowdstrike would have to alter the cloned copy, inserting a false Russian code, and putting their growing billion dollar company at risk. Also, after removing the server, Crowdstrike had to install an exact duplicate server, also in the dead of night, so nobody would notice the equipment is missing. These systems work 24/7, with all kinds of security checks and backups.
So, is there anyone besides Trump promoting this stuff? Yes. Vladimir Putin for one, who early on pointed the finger at the Ukraine, after the usual denials. Similarly, he denied the assassination attempt in 2018, on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. There are three other individuals as far as I can tell. Two other conspiracy have been convicted for lying to the FBI: Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. It was pretty obvious that these two individuals were desperately looking for ways to avoid long sentences. Also, helping the general cause cause was Julian Assange (Wikileaks) who said he did not get the emails from Russian agents, but did not point the finger at Crowdsource or Ukraine. Julian Assange remains in prison in England, Obama did not extradite him to the US, so this of course feeds into the conspiracy narrative. Trump said he would, but the stature of limitations may run out. Also, he will be claiming his right as journalist, Of course, there are a whole slew of radical right wing websites which love to spin conspiracy theories. But it isn’t easy to find a promoter who hasn’t been sued or imprisoned. Almost forgot- Rudy Giuliani promotes this stuff because Trump wants him to. When you are a personal attorney, you stick with your client come hell or high water. And Mike Pompeo has turned his head so many times, he’s getting neck pain.
Dr. Fiona Hill really nailed it at the inquiry, when she pleaded to the committee to reject these wild conspiracy theories, and accept the collective conclusions of the intelligence community and Mueller investigation, that Russia had interfered with the US elections. Trump attempted to resurrect and reinforce a debunked theory about Ukraine’s “theft” of the DNC servers via Crowdstrike by withholding military aid to Ukraine is an impeachable offense. Yet I believe the Senate will acquit him, as the Republicans hold the majority. I am hoping that this victory will be short lived, when the US electorate overturns his Senate win.
I’ve only included a few links, because so much can be found by Google searches, including the incisive statements by Dr. Hill.
Wired: July 16, 2016: Here’s What We Know About Russia and the DNC Hack
(Wired got it right more than 3 years ago! – yet this, the FBI and Intelligence community couldn’t convince Trump)
Daily Beast: Updated Oct 16, 2019: The Truth About Trump’s Insane Ukraine ‘Server’ Conspiracy
Wikipedia: Crowdstrike company
Daily Beast: June 17, 2018: Trump’s ‘Missing DNC Server’ Is Neither Missing Nor a Server