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Trump’s Conspiracy Theory About ‘The Server’ Threatens Election Security

November 25, 2019 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

Donald Trump is still searching for “The Server.” On Friday morning, the president phoned in to his favorite cable news program, “Fox & Friends,” to make a series of false claims about the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems perpetrated by Russian hackers, as part of their elaborate efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. After the attack, claimed Trump, the DNC “gave the server to CrowdStrike, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. I still want to see that server. The FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing.”

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Every part of what Trump said was false — including the claim that the California-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, hired by the DNC when it discovered the infiltration of its systems, is owned by a “wealthy Ukrainian.” But “the server” has been a long-running obsession of the president’s. He has referenced it repeatedly on Twitter, in media interviews, while standing onstage next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and, more recently, in his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

That refrain is troubling, most of all because it shows that Trump is fixated on a conspiracy theory that his own national security advisers have denounced as “completely debunked.” These theories allege that there is a server that the DNC refused to turn over to the FBI, purportedly to conceal evidence that would disprove the intelligence community’s consensus that Russia was responsible for the hack. According to some versions of the theory, another country (perhaps Ukraine) was the true culprit; in others, the theft of thousands of DNC emails later published by WikiLeaks was an “inside job.” The unifying theme, however, is a desire to exonerate Russia of the crime.

Trump’s obsession with the server suggests either that he is unwilling to seek reliable information from the government’s own intelligence and law enforcement agencies or that he disbelieves what they tell him, even on questions where there is no ambiguity or doubt. This goes well beyond healthy skepticism and into the realm of dangerous dysfunction: A president who refuses to accept intelligence assessments he prefers not to believe cannot make sound decisions, and over time this creates pressure to politicize intelligence — with agencies flattering the president’s preconceptions to remain …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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