President Donald Trump has not only refused to believe that Russia was responsible for the 2016 election hack, he refuses to fact-check Russia's claim that Ukraine was the one behind it.
While Russia has worked diligently to make Ukraine the target, Trump has eagerly consumed and regurgitated the conspiracy theory as a way to accuse former challenger Hillary Clinton of causing all of it. Trump accused cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike of taking the Democratic Party server to Ukraine, a false claim given the server was a cloud-based server, not a physical one. Once it became clear that former Vice President Joe Biden would be one of Trump's potential opponents, the president shifted the conspiracy theory to Biden and his last surviving son, Hunter. Trump claimed that the two were part of a corrupt deal in Ukraine in 2015, while Biden's eldest son was dying of brain cancer.
"What we found is the president, yet again, seems to be echoing Russian disinformation when he says Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, and the DNC was hacked not by Russia but Ukraine, that debunked conspiracy theory, that that the server, the DNC server, was in Ukraine and being protected by forces there," Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand said on MSNBC.
In a report she wrote this week, Bertrand cited a source saying that White House staffers ultimately "gave up" trying to convince him Russia was the culprit.
“Anything he associated with the intel community, he rejected pretty much out of hand because his sense was that the ‘Deep State’ had decided in some star chamber or secret meeting that they would feed intelligence to him that would cause him to make mistakes, and disprove a lot of his theories about what happened in the election,” the person told Politico.
Bertrand hunted down the conspiracy, only to find that the Russians were the ones floating the conspiracy as early as 2015, long before it was even known the DNC server was hacked. On July 22, 2016, a person or group called "Guccifer 2.0" claimed on a blog to have been responsible for hacking the DNC server. Guccifer 2.0 then admitted he was a Russian Intelligence Officer.
"They threw everything they could against the wall and settled on this idea that [Clinton] was receiving help from oligarchs [in Ukraine] in terms of her election campaign," Bertrand continued. "The Kremlin floated this, saying because this information against Paul Manafort was released, forcing him to resign from the campaign, that was evidence of some kind of Ukrainian operation to hurt Trump's campaign. But of course, there's no evidence that there was any kind of top-down interference campaign like the Russians waged."
It's something former official at the U.S. National Security Council Fiona Hill warned of when she testified before Congress. Russia will do it again, and this Ukraine conspiracy theory is an example of that.
Watch her explanation below: