United States intelligence officials have long unanimously agreed that Russia issued a calculated attack to sway the 2016 Presidential election in favor of now-President Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, conspiracy theories still pervade, often from the Oval Office.
While talking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump went into an obsessive rant regarding a Democratic National Committee server, which he thinks is in Ukraine, that could upend the entire premise of Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
Trump said the word "server" eight times in approximately 30 seconds.
"Where is the server? How come the FBI never got the server?" Trump asked, continuing:
"Where is the server? I want to see the server. Let's see what's on the server. So, the server, they say is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine. I'd like to see the server. I think it's very important for this country to see the server."
- The company Trump is referring to is Crowdstrike.
After the DNC was hacked by Russia, Crowdstrike was the incident response company who evaluated its technology and repaired its vulnerability to further intrusion from Russian hackers. During the phone call with the Ukrainian President that spurred Trump's impeachment inquiry, Trump names Crowdstrike and asks the Ukrainian President to investigate the server's location and its contents. The problem is...
- There is no missing server.When companies like Crowdstrike evaluate cyber vulnerabilities, they take digital snapshots of the servers' hard drives and memories, preserving the digital evidence on each device. They rarely, if ever, remove the physical devices.
- No, seriously, there is no missing server.The DNC and Crowdstrike both confirm that the digital contents of every single server were sent to the FBI. Trump mistakenly believes that a physical server is tucked away in Ukraine. This is not the case. Furthermore, because digital forensic evidence fades just like physical forensic evidence, a physical server would be practically useless.
- It's unclear why Trump believes there is a connection between Crowdstrike and Ukraine.This appears to be echoing the baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine—in coordination with the DNC—was the actual culprit of the 2016 election hack. That's false. Crowdstrike is a U.S.-based company. One of Crowdstrike's founders is from New Jersey. The other is from (plot twist) Russia.
So why does Trump keep pushing this conspiracy theory?
I'm glad I asked. Collusion between Democrats and Ukraine would be a panacea forever removing the asterisk from the legitimacy of Trump's presidency. It would vindicate all his cries of "witch hunt" and all the weight that came with a foreign enemy using acts of cyberterrorism to get him elected. Trump has constantly demonstrated a fixation on personal image. How could he resist pursuing a nonexistent silver bullet against his critics? Even if that pursuit led him to commit the very offense he's spent his Presidency trying to vindicate himself from: enlisting a foreign power to influence an election.
If it were a Greek tragedy, it'd make a compelling one.
But it's not, and that's why people were disturbed by his zombification of a long-dead issue.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration admits it tucked away records of various phone calls between Trump and other world leaders onto—you guessed it—a secret server. Those records have yet to be released.