President Trump’s obsession with a Ukraine conspiracy theory is almost as troubling as his request that the Ukrainian president investigate the Bidens. His theory is that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the president continues to pursue the non-existent Ukrainian connection to the great detriment of our national interests.
Although the theory continues to shift its shape, the general contention is that Ukraine was responsible for hacking the Democrats, that the FBI did not actually examine the server which was hacked, and that the server is now located somewhere in Ukraine. In fact, there were many servers, the FBI was provided digital copies of them, and one of them was put on display in Washington, D.C.
The consensus of the United States intelligence agencies, operating under Trump appointees, is that Russia hacked emails from the servers and released them through Wikileaks in 2016 to influence the presidential election. The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed that consensus.
On February 18, 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies for attacking our 2016 election. The indictment gave detailed information about Russia’s interference. If anyone would read Volume One of the Mueller Report, the Russian operation is laid out in detail. The president’s former Homeland Security advisor, Thomas Bossert, said on Sept. 29 that the conspiracy theory had been “completely debunked” and “has no validity.”
According to documents recently released from the Mueller investigation, the theory originated from Trump’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who is now awaiting sentencing for lying to investigators. It was amplified by Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a variety of charges, including fraud. The two were supported by Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian/Ukrainian with ties to Russian intelligence who is under federal indictment for witness tampering. Some have questioned the reliability and truthfulness of this trio.
The president has doggedly persisted in pushing this conspiracy theory. When he met with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July 2018, he publicly asked, “Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server, what is the server saying?”
In the transcript Trump provided of the phone call he had with Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019, Trump raised the issue again. After Zelensky asked for more anti-tank missiles, our President responded, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” and he then asked that Zelensky “get to the bottom’ of the conspiracy theory. He suggested Zelensky work in coordination with Rudy Giuliani and Atty. Gen. Bill Barr in that endeavor.
We know from Giuliani’s public pronouncements that he was relentlessly pursuing the conspiracy theory throughout the past year. Giuliani was being helped along by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both of whom are now under federal indictment, while Giuliani is being investigated by the feds.
What is mind boggling is that our commander in chief is doggedly pursuing a debunked conspiracy theory that does not even make sense. Why would any rational person hide a server or any other potentially incriminating evidence in a war-torn country where potential traitors abound?
Pursuit of the discredited conspiracy theory seriously harms Ukraine, a strategic partner, while giving aid and comfort to an enemy, the Russian Federation. The Russians have been vigorously peddling the conspiracy theory since 2016 and the president is going right along with them. It causes our allies to wonder about the sanity and reliability of their former partner, the United States, and to consider whether it is wise to continue sharing intelligence that could be critical in keeping this country safe.
Jim Jones is a former Idaho attorney general and a former Idaho Supreme Court chief justice. His previous columns can be found at https://JJCommonTater.com.