Setting politics aside, why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election actually make no sense whatsoever...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/29/2019, 10:05am PT  

Sometimes, when faced with an insidious canard, it isn't enough to either expose the true source of a conspiracy theory or the absence of any facts to support it. In order to thoroughly demolish it, one can identify a reductio ad absurdum --- "a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications to absurd conclusions".

It is indeed important that, throughout the recent public impeachment hearings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) referred to allegations that CrowdStrike and the Ukrainians hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server in 2016 as a "debunked" conspiracy theory and that none of the State Department and National Security Counsel (NSC) officials who testified during the impeachment hearings could identify any evidence that would support that "debunked" theory. It is also important that, in her opening statement, Dr. Fiona Hill, Trump's own former NSC Senior Director of Russian and European Affairs, proclaimed that Russian intelligence agencies were the source of that "fictional" canard.

While there is ample evidence to support the conclusions offered by Dr. Hill and Chairman Schiff, one can deliver the coup de grâce to the baseless but insidious theory that Ukraine and CrowdStrike hacked the DNC by asking "why" they would do that?...

Reality

Throughout the impeachment hearings, Chairman Schiff and others pointed to the consensus shared throughout the U.S. Intelligence Community that Russian intelligence agencies hacked the DNC server --- a position also set forth in the bi-partisan Report [PDF] issued by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. That position was also shared by the U.S. Department of Justice via a still pending federal indictment.

According to the indictment, in March/April 2016, Russia's military intelligence agency, the Main Directorate of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU), hacked the DNC and DSCC servers, as well as the email accounts of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. The hack, according to former FBI Director James B. Comey's March 20, 2017 sworn Congressional testimony, was discovered by CrowdStrike, a California-based, publicly-traded company that had been retained by the DNC for cybersecurity purposes. CrowdStrike, per Comey, determined "with high certainty" that the hack was carried out by Russia's intelligence services.

The federal indictment alleges that, after the hacks, the GRU began releasing the purloined information first via the fictitious online personas, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, and then to WikiLeaks. The indictment specifically alleged that Russian intelligence agency had inserted itself into the U.S. electoral process in order to benefit one candidate, Donald J. Trump.

Although, in his formal Report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller conceded that he had not found sufficient evidence to criminally charge individuals within the Trump campaign for conspiracy with respect to these illegal Russian activities, a federal jury recently found that former Trump aide Roger Stone lied to Congress when he denied that he'd sought to coordinate between Trump and WikiLeaks concerning the release of the information. The first WikiLeaks tranche of stolen emails was released within hours of the airing of the infamous Access Hollywood videotape.

The records gathered by Special Counsel Mueller also support Dr. Hill's claim that Russian intelligence was the source of the now debunked Ukraine DNC hack theory. Specifically, during an April 2018 FBI interview, Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Manager, revealed that, as early as June 2016, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, at the behest of the Russian intelligence-linked Konstantine Kilimnik, floated the idea that the hack was "likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the Russians."

Hill spoke to the Ukraine conspiracy theory in her testimony last week, under oath, in the impeachment hearings before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.

HILL: Based on questions and statements I've heard, some of you appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not a campaign against our country. And that perhaps, some how, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan Congressional reports. It is beyond dispute.

The Russian government's goal is to weaken our country and diminish America's global roll and to neutralize the perceived American threat to Russia's interest.

Right now, Russia's security services and their proxies are geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 elections. We are running out of time to stop them. In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote political deriven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests. We must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm.

Absurdity

The problem with some conspiracy theories, especially this one, is that often they make no sense whatsoever.

If, as Trump and his allies so forcefully proclaim, Ukraine's goal was to harm the Trump campaign, why would they target servers belonging to the DNC and DSCC, as well as the Clinton and Podesta emails? Why not target the RNC or candidate Trump? Why would anyone bent on damaging the Trump campaign coordinate with WikiLeaks to ensure that emails that could cause harm to the Clinton campaign were carefully timed to mitigate the adverse impact of the Access Hollywood video?

Does anyone with half a brain believe for even a split second that either the Democrats or Ukraine would have deliberately sabotaged the Clinton campaign so that they could erect a "Russia hoax" after Trump won?

* * *
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing