Nov 22, 2019

Senators briefed that CrowdStrike theory is Russian-backed disinformation campaign

Fiona Hill, former official at the National Security Council specialising in the former Soviet Union and Russian and European affairs, at her hearing on the impeachment of President Trump. Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Intelligence officials recently briefed senators and their aides on Russian efforts to pin interference in the 2016 U.S. election on Ukraine, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: As part of their defense of President Trump amid the impeachment inquiry, Republicans have tried to advance the now-debunked conspiracy theory that the government in Kiev was responsible for hacking the 2016 election.

But the intelligence briefing is consistent with Fiona Hill's impeachment testimony this week. On Thursday, Trump's former top Russia adviser said the notion that Ukraine, rather than Russia, meddled in the 2016 election is "a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman called the same, so-called CrowdStrike server conspiracy theory "a Russian narrative that President [Vladimir] Putin has promoted."

Reality check, via Axios' Joe Uchill: CrowdStrike is not and has never been owned by a Ukrainian, as Trump and GOP lawmakers have suggested. It was founded in America by a Russian-born American, and funded by U.S. venture capital.

  • CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is an Russian-born American, not a Ukrainian.
  • The firm was not funded by Ukrainian oligarchs.
  • CrowdStrike was hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate and expunge the hackers responsible for the 2016 breach.
  • Since the 2016 election, the firm has become publicly traded.
  • The firm has been at the center of a number of right-wing conspiracy theories because it was the first to publicly release evidence that Russia perpetrated the digital trespass.

But, but, but: Trump continued to push the Ukraine theory as late as Friday morning, when he spent a portion of a 53-minute phone call with Fox & Friends repeating the debunked idea.

  • Trump has previously cited CrowdStrike as an explanation for why he wants Ukraine to investigate meddling in the 2016 election, and he mentioned it in the July 25 phone call in which he appeared to press the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

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