Newly Released Congressional Testimony Casts Doubt on 2016 Russia Hacking Narrative

It’s been over a year since the Mueller report refuted the Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy theory. Newly released testimony has cast doubt on whether Russia was even behind the 2016 email leak in the first place.

The Email Scandal

Before discussing the latest russiagate revelation, it is important to recall the email scandal that started the whole thing. During the 2016 presidential election, emails between Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and senior members of the Democratic Party were leaked to the public. These emails revealed massive political corruption within the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party.

For example, the emails showed that the Clinton campaign received debate questions in advance. Donna Brazile, who in 2016 was working as a CNN contributor and as the chairperson of the Democratic National Convention, gave the Clinton campaign two questions before two separate debates. 

The emails also revealed corruption within the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation is Bill and Hillary Clintons’ charity, but it really operates more like a money washing scheme. Leaked emails revealed that Clinton Foundation patrons were strongly encouraged to directly give cash to the Clintons in the form of exuberant speaking fees. Patrons were also expected to give the Clintons perks, such as private jet trips and $700 meals. In total, the Clintons have collected over $150 million from speaking fees.

The emails exhibited many instances of forighn governments, especially governments with poor human rights records, donating to the Clinton Foundation to curry favor. In one instance, Hillary asked for $12 million  from the Morrocan government for the Clinton Foundation to host a conference with Hillary in attendance in Morocco. When Hillary pulled out of the conference at the last second, the Moroccan king declined to give the foundation the $12 million. The Clinton foundation even accepted a $1 million gift on Bill’s birthday from Qatar while Hillary was Secretary of State. Despite previous promises, the Clintons did not report the gift to the State Department. Saudi Arabia also gave the foundation between $11 and $26 million while it was waging a horrific war on Yemen. Obviously governments like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have little concern for charity or human rights, but rather expected special considerations from Hillary for their contributions.  

Speaking of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, other leaked emails exposed that Hillary knew privately that those governments were supporting ISIS. One memo sent to Hillary said “the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIS and other radical groups in the region.” A 2009 memo sent to her said “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan).” While this dirty little secret is public knowledge now, the Clinton State Department sold the Saudi regime small arms, ammunition, tanks, attack helicopters, fighter jets, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships despite their support for terrorism. By 2016, these weapon sales to the Saudi regime exceeded $115 billion. According to an International Business Times analysis, “Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation… (which) represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.”

According to other leaked emails, Clinton even privately expressed support for covert efforts to overthrow the Syrian government, similar to what Saudi Arabia and Qatar were doing by secretly arming ISIS. Hillary said “My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible (in Syria)” adding that “We used to be much better at this than we are now. Now, you know, everybody can’t help themselves. They have to go out and tell their friendly reporters and somebody else: Look what we’re doing and I want credit for it.”

There are certainly other juicy tidbits in the over 20,000 leaked emails, but, suffice to say, there are many genuine scandals within the leaks.  However, because the emails implicated the media, Democratic establishment, and big business, they unsurprisingly received minimal media coverage. Instead, the media focused on the conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to leak the emails and otherwise sink the Clinton campaign. 

“No evidence” Russia Stole Emails

This conspiracy theory was finally debunked when the Mueller report stated that the investigation “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.” However, the report did conclude that Russian intelligence, specifically the GRU, was behind the email hacking and leaks. Yet, newly released congressional testimony has cast doubt on this claim.

The claim that Russia was behind the hacks and leaks stems from a 2016 report by the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike.  Crowdstrike was hired by the DNC to investigate the alleged Russian hacking and leaks. While U.S. intelligence services like the CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security have also stated that Russia was behind the hacks, they have not produced any evidence to support their claim. Additionally, any future investigation would be all but impossible because the DNC deleted the emails and destroyed their servers after the Crowdstrike report.

In newly published testimony, the President of Crowdstrike said that their 2016 report did not prove Russia was behind the hacks and leaks. Testifying before congress in 2017, Shawn Henry, President of Crowdstrike and former FBI agent, said that “ (We) have a high degree of confidence it was the Russian government.” Henry went on to say that “we did not have concrete evidence that data was exfiltrated from the DNC, but we have indications that it was exfiltrated.” The use of qualified language and lack of concrete evidence here is key. Henry is admitting that Crowdstrike does not have proof that Russia was behind the hacks and leaks. 

Henry also said “it appears the data was set up to be exfiltrated, but we just don’t have the evidence to say it actually left.” So not only can Crowdstrike not prove Russia was behind the hacks and leaks, Crowdstrike cannot even prove any data was actually stolen. Henry would repeat, “There’s no evidence they (the emails) were actually exfiltrated. There’s circumstantial evidence, but no evidence they were actually exfiltrated.”

Henry’s testimony and use of qualified language is mirrored in the Mueller report. While the Mueller report begins by talking about the alleged GRU hacking and data exfiltration as if it factually happened, buried deep inside the report Mueller says “(GRU) officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments which were later released by Wikileaks.”

The Mueller report also could not say definitively that the Russian government gave Wikileaks the stolen materials, much like Henry’s testimony. Mueller said “the office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to Wikileaks through intermediaries.” Mueller has no idea how Wikileaks actually acquired the stolen emails. 

All this evidence again raises the long discussed possibility that multiple entities hacked into the DNC servers, which were clearly not secure. 

The Russian hacking and collusion narrative pushed by the mainstream media was barely able to survive the Mueller report. After the report, many liberals moved the goalpost and suggested that the real scandal was Russian interference in U.S. “Democracy.” Now, even that narrative is rapidly falling apart. This liberal obsession with what is now a thoroughly discredited conspiracy theory is especially frustrating considering there is a plethora of legitimate criticism to be made against Trump. Instead of focusing on a cold-war reminiscent hoax, liberals could instead have focused on Trump’s open white supremacist rhetoric or his huge handouts to the wealthiest American’s. Liberals, and especially the liberal establishment, refuse to focus on these things because they are a fundamentally white supremacist anti-labor institution too, just like Trump. And even if Russia was behind the hacks, so what? These hacks exposed extreme corruption. Whoever carried them out did a service to the U.S. public by exposing backdoor deals that we have a right to know about. The real scandal is in the content of the emails, not the hack.

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