Debunked Ukraine conspiracy theory is knocked down - again
A discredited conspiracy theory that blames Ukraine, and not Russia, for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election reared its head again during the first day of public impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating a political opponent.
First, California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, referenced it obliquely in defending Trump, saying “indications of Ukrainian election meddling” had troubled the president.
Subsequently, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George P. Kent, under questioning, said there was “no factual basis” to any theory of Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election — while there is ample evidence of Russian interference.
In broad outline, the theory contends, without evidence, that the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee was a setup somehow perpetrated with Ukrainian complicity in which computer records were fabricated to cast blame on Russia. One key figure in this supposed conspiracy: CrowdStrike, a security firm hired by the DNC that detected and analyzed the hack five months before the 2016 election.
Kent said Wednesday that he hadn’t even heard of the theory until a whistleblower alerted the public to a July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.
Here’s how the call brought the debunked theory back into currency.
During that July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump made a brief and cryptic reference to CrowdStrike. According to a reconstructed transcript of the call released by the White House, which is not a verbatim account, he said:
"I would like to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike...