Are House GOPers Going All In On Crowdstrike Conspiracy Nonsense?

UNITED STATES - JUNE 10: Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., reads a copy of The Mueller Report during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstructi... UNITED STATES - JUNE 10: Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., reads a copy of The Mueller Report during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled "Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes," on Monday June 10, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call) MORE LESS
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As the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry barrels on, some Republicans in the chamber are boosting a fundamentally nonsensical conspiracy theory about the 2016 elections, one that the President brought up in his call with Ukraine President Zelensky.

On Tuesday, a Justice Department lawyer swatted away a question from a Republican congresswoman about the conspiracy, which focuses on the cybersecurity firm the Democratic Party hired in 2016, CrowdStrike.

“It has been reported that the FBI never obtained the original servers from the Democratic National Committee that had allegedly been hacked by Russia, instead relying on imaged copies,” Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) told a panel of election security experts during a hearing on election security. “Is that correct?”

Adam Hickey, a deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, volunteered to answer.

“We got the information that we required for our investigation, and it’s pretty common for us to work with a security vendor in connection with an investigation of a computer intrusion,” he said.

The back-and-forth pointed to a well-worn and completely bonkers conspiracy.

Its adherents allege that during its initial investigation of the Russian hack of the Democratic Party’s computer system, Crowdstrike actually manufactured evidence to incriminate Russia — despite the conclusions of both the intelligence community and the Mueller investigation that Russian actors were responsible for the hack.

Some versions of the conspiracy assert that the manufactured evidence also served to cover up the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer whose death became fodder for right-wing conspiracists who claim he was the actual source of leaked Democratic documents.

Trump, on his infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, appears to have asserted that a single server from the DNC hack somehow ended up in Ukraine. Although that section of the White House memorandum of the call is pockmarked with ellipses, Trump is recorded as telling Zelesnky: “The server, they say that Ukraine has it.” He then asks the Ukrainian President to call Attorney General Bill Barr and “get to the bottom of it.”

It’s unclear who told Trump this version of the story, though the theory got its start on the online conspiracy mill 4chan and eventually bubbled into mainstream Republican consciousness. In reality, Crowdstrike did what many cybersecurity companies do when cooperating with federal investigators: It took digital “snapshots” of the hacked DNC servers for its investigations and then handed those snapshots to the FBI. James Comey confirmed as much during congressional testimony in March 2017.

The images, not the computer’s hardware, provide the evidence,” Crowdstrike said in September

Much like Trump’s stated belief that Hillary Clinton “acid washed” her emails, the conspiracy is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of computers and how they work.

That hasn’t stopped some in the GOP from repeating it as a defense of Trump’s actions, which are now the subject of an impeachment inquiry on which Republican members of Congress could soon vote.

Former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), in his second day as a paid CNN contributor, got fact-checked in real time after bringing up this conspiracy on-air. In a floor speech last month, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) asserted that Trump was simply attempting, in his call with Zelensky, “to get to the bottom of these improper actions which, again, may have emanated in the Ukraine.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), speaking a few minutes before Lesko on Tuesday, defended Trump’s search for the truth.

The telephone call itself mentioned CrowdStrike — Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election — and that was what President Trump was asking that President Zelensky would look into,” he said.

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Notable Replies

  1. Well, of course they are going to gnaw on this bone. It’s their only hope of keeping the Koolaid drinkers distracted and salivating while Spankee is impeached.

  2. Avatar for spin spin says:

    It is all an effort to toss dust in the air, to give Hannety something to fill the air.

    But meanwhile, the impeachment inquiry rolls on, today it is US ambassador to Ukraine Bill Tayler. Bill Taylor is the kind of guy who keeps the lights on. West Point, served in Vietnam (no bone spurs), various state department positions, ending up as Ambassador to Ukraine under Bush II, stayed until 2009 under Obama.

    Given the tenor of his e-mails, there was basically zero chance that he was not going to tell the whole unvarnished truth when put under oath. That Republicans think they have a leg to stand on is just baffling to me, too much FOX New has addled their brains.

    And by keeping things behind closed doors, the D’s will be able to (a) keep Trumpsters from trying to make up a cover story that sort of fits, forcing them to be more truthful absent knowing what everyone has said, and (b) allows the D’s to put the entire thing together into a nice package for public hearings, with certain witnesses being recalled for open testimony as the D’s lay out their case.

    Good to see smart people: Pelosi, Schiff, before his death Cummings in charge not the stupid jump to conclusions set who let their anger generally at Trump get ahead of evidence, convincing some folks in the middle that it was all politics.

    Everyone, keep your eyes on the ball…

    P.s. and this will all be addressed in the public hearings. Call in someone of unimpeachable background, have them explain that there NEVER WAS A SINGLE SERVER. These things are “networks” and have the person make fun of the Republican talking points. Show that they are really, really flat earth ignorance level nonsense.

  3. Avatar for erik_t erik_t says:

    I feel like I’m a reasonably smart cookie, and I can’t totally wrap my mind around the fact pattern that is alleged here. It’s like they’re forming sentences out of words that don’t go together. Talking about the scent of alcohol on the breath of the color blue.

    “Hillary Clinton sent classified information on private email” is an easy enough concept to understand, and it was productive propaganda in 2016. Who even is the target here? Is it just the usual target of one?

  4. The Republicans have transitioned from the party of Abraham Lincoln to the party of George Lincoln Rockwell. Sickeningly corrupt and self-serving.

  5. @spin
    Thanks for that. I was about to post a depressing one about how the hell we fight the massive propaganda that’s coming, now that Trump’s got the DOJ and every other institution behind him. By telling the truth, that’s how.

    Also from Daily Kos: Early reports from the closed-door hearing indicate that Taylor has not disappointed. His 15-page opening statement (not yet available) has reportedly generated “sighs and gasps” within the chamber.

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