Republicans are ecstatic over the Mueller report, as it found no evidence President Donald Trump cooperated with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
But the report doubled down on the claim that officers with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, hacked into the computers of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee, in addition to the computers Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and more than 300 Clinton campaign staffers and volunteers.
It also claims that it was GRU officers who created the fake personas DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, and that it was GRU officers, using the Guccifer 2.0 persona, who gave the emails to WikiLeaks for wider distribution.
But is that really true? If it is, why does the report provide so little evidence to support it? Why does it not explain how investigators know what they know?
This is not an academic exercise.
On April 18, the day after the Mueller report was released, CIA Director Gina Haspel said that the CIA is stepping up efforts against Russia, which it sees as a growing threat.
Is the Deep State revving up for war with Russia?
If so, it’s time to pay attention, and to ask the following questions:
1. Why didn’t investigators interview Julian Assange? – Nowhere in the report is there any evidence that investigators ever spoke with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Why? He is the one person with the most direct information about the source of the DCCC-DNC emails and the John Podesta emails. He has said repeatedly that they did not come from Russia, from anyone connected with Russia, or from any “state party.” His strongest statements on this were to Sean Hannity in an interview on Fox News that aired on January 3, 2017.
2. Why didn’t they interview Craig Murray? – Craig Murray is a British human rights activist who worked closely with Julian Assange for several years, visiting him in the Ecuadorian embassy and working with him on releases of information from whistleblowers. Murray said in a radio interview in December of 2016 that the DNC emails and the Podesta emails did not come from the same person, and also that they both came from Americans. He went even further, hinting that while the DNC emails came from a political insider, the Podesta emails may have come from someone in an intelligence agency like the NSA. He also said both sources had legal access to the information and that he had first-hand information about them. He not only wasn’t interviewed in the report — his name does not even appear in it.
3. Why didn’t they interview Dana Rohrabacher? – Former California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is the only member of Congress to have visited Julian Assange in London, where he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for the last seven years after having been granted asylum. On his return, Rohrabacher told CNN.com that Assange told him that he had “physical proof” that the DNC and Podesta emails did not come from Russia. But the investigators with the Special Counsel’s office apparently did not interview him, or if they did, there’s no evidence of it in the report. Instead, they referenced his comments in the CNN article. Why didn’t they just call him?
4. Why didn’t they examine the DCCC and DNC servers? – Too little has been said about this. The computer servers at the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are presumably the main piece of physical evidence related to the alleged hack by the Russian government. But the FBI said in a statement to WIRED in January 2017 that it was never able to examine the DNC servers because the DNC wouldn’t give them access to them. “This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information,” the statement read. That third party was presumably Crowdstrike, the cybertechnology company hired by the DNC and headed by a man named Dmitri Alperovitch, who was born and raised in Moscow and is now a fellow with the anti-Russia think tank the Atlantic Council. If the FBI or Special Counsel’s investigators ever did get access to the DCCC and DNC servers, this major piece of physical evidence would surely have been contaminated by having been in the possession of a private organization paid by the DNC whose leader has a natural animosity toward Russia.
5. Why didn’t they mention Crowdstrike? – Bizarrely, even though then FBI Director James Comey said in testimony before Congress on Jan. 10, 2017 that the FBI was comfortable trusting Crowdstrike’s analysis that it was Russian intelligence-connected groups that hacked the servers, the Mueller report does not mention Crowdstrike. The report does, however, mirror what Crowdstrike had said in the summer of 2016, when it made the announcement that Russian intel groups it nicknamed “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear” were responsible for the hack. If government investigators never examined the DCCC and DNC servers, and depended on Crowdstrike’s analysis, why does it not reference Crowdstrike? Is it because Crowdstrike was hired by the DNC and paid by the DNC and if referenced it would be an admission that the entire case against Russia relies on a partisan source? Is it because it would invite closer scrutiny of Crowdstrike and its co-founder, Alperovitch?
6. If the GRU stole “thousands of documents” from the DCCC and DNC, as the report says, where are they? Julian Assange has said he is sure that the DNC and Podesta emails he published on WikiLeaks did not come from anyone connected to Russia, and also that they did not come from Guccifer 2.0. The Mueller report says Guccifer 2.0 was created by GRU officers and that Guccifer 2.0 sent the DNC documents to Assange. But Assange told a reporter for the New Yorker that he never published the documents he got from Guccifer 2.0. “We didn’t publish them,” he said. “They were already published.” Was Guccifer 2.0 perhaps created to deflect attention from the emails – emails released three days before the Democratic National Convention that showed that the leadership at the DNC was actively working to help Hillary Clinton in the primary and hurt Bernie Sanders? Was Guccifer 2.0 created to frame Russia? Why?
It’s a relief that the investigation cleared the president, his family, and his campaign staff of any collusion with Russia, but it’s a serious problem that the investigators seem determined to pin major crimes on the Russian government with so little evidence, and so many outstanding questions.
Margaret Menge is a freelance writer for BizPacReview. She has previously written for U.S. News & World Report, the Columbia Journalism Review, the New York Observer and the Miami Herald, and has served as the editor of small newspapers in New York and Florida. She lived in Moscow, Russia, in 1993-1994.
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