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Trump pushes debunked DNC hack conspiracy in call with Ukraine
In a call with the Ukrainian president that is now the focus of an impeachment inquiry, President Trump discussed CrowdStrike and asked for help with finding a 'server.'
President Donald Trump is in hot water again over the 2016 breach of the Democratic National Committee.
The White House released a memo Wednesday containing an incomplete summary of a phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky last month, in which Trump asked for Ukraine to look into "the server," in an apparent reference to the DNC hack. Trump also referenced cybersecurity vendor CrowdStrike, which investigated the incident and provided technical evidence that attributed the hack to a Russian state-sponsored threat group.
"I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it," Trump said on the call, according to the memo. "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."
Although unclear, it appears Trump's request regarding the "the server" refers to a conspiracy theory claiming there is a lost server from the DNC hack. Trump has mentioned the so-called lost DNC server in the past -- despite it being debunked by multiple sources -- but this time it was in conversation with another head of state requesting assistance to cast doubt on the official findings of the FBI and the intelligence community.
"[T]hey say a lot of it started in the Ukraine," Trump said on the call, referencing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. "Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible."
Adding to the confusion and concern over Trump's request, just before asking for Ukraine's assistance, he mentioned how the U.S. "has been very, very good to Ukraine" but added that he "wouldn't say that it's reciprocal."
Zelensky responded that Ukraine was willing to cooperate and was "almost ready to buy more Javelins [missiles]."
Although the memo released by the White House is formatted like a transcript of the call, it is specifically noted that it "is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion" but rather a summary based on "the notes and recollections" of staff tasked to "listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place."
In the call with Zelensky, Trump also asked for a Ukraine investigation into former vice president Joe Biden's son, Hunter, who was previously on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Joe Biden is currently one of the leading Democratic candidates set to oppose the president in the 2020 election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday into Trump's conduct regarding Ukraine, prior to the release of the White House memo.
Despite investigations from U.S. intelligence agencies concluding that the DNC hack and other election interference activity was the work of Russia -- and Robert Mueller indicting 12 Russian intelligence officers in the DNC hack -- Trump has continually disregarded those findings in favor of conspiracy theories. These views can, in part, be traced back to an international disinformation campaign run by a British IT manager and former hacker.
Xochitl Hinojosa, communications director for the DNC, tweeted that Trump's comments are "complete nonsense."
"Trump still hasn't accepted that Russia interfered in our election, and instead, is using a call with a foreign leader to push conspiracy theories," Hinojosa wrote. "This is surreal."
CrowdStrike sent a statement to reporters which read: "With regards to our investigation of the DNC hack in 2016, we provided all forensic evidence and analysis to the FBI. As we've stated before, we stand by our findings and conclusions that have been fully supported by the U.S. Intelligence community."