In a rambling phone interview Friday morning, President Donald Trump promoted the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump asserted that the Democratic National Committee refused to hand over their Russian-hacked server to the FBI and instead gave it to CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm.

“The FBI went in and they told them get out of here, we’re not giving it to you. They gave the server to CrowdStrike … which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian, and I still want to see that server,” Trump told Fox and Friends. “You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”

Trump’s theory is factually incorrect.

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CrowdStrike is based in California, not Ukraine, and was hired by the DNC to investigate a breach that turned out to be a Russian hack. It’s not owned by a wealthy Ukrainian — it’s publicly traded on the Nasdaq.

Trump may have been referring to one of CrowdStrike’s founders, Dmitri Alperovitch, who is a Russian-born American citizen. However, Alperovitch often works with the U.S. government on cyberdefense measures. CrowdStrike was responsible for determining that Russians were behind the breach.

Frank Cilluffo, the former special assistant to the president for homeland security, told Esquire, “Dmitri, as an individual, has played a significant role in elevating cybersecurity policy not only inside the private sector but more generally.”

The breach also affected far more than just one server, as Trump seems to think. Because of the 2016 hack, the DNC decommissioned 140 servers and rebuilt 11, according to NBC.

Even Fox and Friends cohost Steve Docy seemed dubious of Trump’s theory.

“Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?” Docy asked.

“Well, that’s what the word is,” Trump replied.

The debunked theory began circulating again after Trump asked the president of Ukraine to look into CrowdStrike in the July 25 phone call which sparked a whistleblower complaint and subsequent impeachment inquiry.

He defended asking about CrowdStrike during the interview, saying he asked “because we’re looking for corruption.”


“That’s what I asked, actually, in my phone call, as you know. I mean, I asked it very point blank because we’re looking for corruption,” Trump said. “There’s tremendous corruption. We’re looking for… why should we be giving hundreds of millions of dollars to countries when there’s this kind of corruption?”

Trump’s interview came after a week of public impeachment hearings. Former National Security Council official Fiona Hill reaffirmed that Russia was wholly responsible for any 2016 election interference, not Ukraine during her public testimony Thursday.

“Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

She added, “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”

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