Last week, the “transcript” of President Trump’s July 25th call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed that Trump tried to pressure Zelensky into investigating a debunked conspiracy theory: that Russia’s well-documented interference in the 2016 election actually originated in Ukraine. On Sunday, it was revealed that Trump already knew the theory had been disproven prior to asking Zelensky to look into it.
Or, at least, he was told it had been disproven. Repeatedly.
So said Tom Bossert, Trump’s former homeland security adviser, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “Not only is it a conspiracy theory, it has been completely debunked,” Bossert said after confirming that when he was in the White House he explained this to the president.
NEW: Tom Bossert on Pres. Trump's Crowdstrike reference on Ukraine call: "It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked…
"I am deeply frustrated with what [Rudy Giuliani] and the legal team is doing in repeating that debunked theory to the president." pic.twitter.com/o1lcVI31u8
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) September 29, 2019
The debunked Ukrainian election-interference theory is a belief among some on the far-right that because the Democratic National Committee and Crowdstrike, a firm hired by the DNC to investigate Russia’s attack on its servers during the lead-up to the 2016 election, didn’t provide the FBI with said servers, it signaled some sort of Deep State coverup aimed at pinning election interference on Russia. Not only has this been roundly disproven, it doesn’t even come close to making sense, as we explained in detail last week, and as former administration figures like Bossert tried to explain to the president.
“I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump told Zelensky, according to the readout of the call. “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … the server, they say Ukraine has it.”
The “they” to whom Trump is referring are Rudy Giuliani and other private advisers, not the intelligence community, which long ago concluded that Russia was behind the attack. Bossert wasn’t the only one who tried and failed to impress this upon the president. His story was backed up by former Trump aides who spoke to The New York Times, which reported that the president “refused to accept reassurances about Ukraine no matter how many times it was explained to him.”
Trump has routinely indulged conspiracy theories since involving himself in politics, but it’s never been entirely clear whether he actually believes them or if he just wants his base to believe them. In the case of the debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC, the “transcript” of Trump’s call with Zelenksy would seem to indicate that he actually believes it. Or wants to believe it. Or has a vested interest in believing it and exonerating Russia. Or, actually, this doesn’t really clear up anything in regards to Trump’s relationship with reality.
Though Bossert lamented his former boss clinging to the theory and said he was “deeply disturbed” by Trump’s pursuit of the investigation, he still supports the president, making his frustrations all the more legitimate. The former White House adviser clarified later on Sunday that he does “not see evidence of an impeachable offense.”