President Trump was convinced by Russia’s Vladimir Putin that Ukraine tried to stop his election in 2016 even though his own intelligence agencies told him there was no evidence to support the claim, according to a new report.
The Russian leader reportedly persuaded Trump that it was Ukraine which meddled in the election during a July 2017 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
One former senior White House official told The Washington Post that Trump repeated to aides that he knew Ukraine was guilty because ‘Putin told me.’
The former officials believe that since that meeting with Putin, Trump has adhered to the belief that Ukraine was working against him in 2016 even though his own government says there’s no proof to the claim.
Trump’s fixation on Ukraine led him to ask its president to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over links to a Ukrainian gas firm.
This request led to the president’s impeachment on Wednesday. Trump became just the third president in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
Former Trump administration officials fear that the president may have been persuaded by Russian leader Vladimir Putin that Ukraine tried to sabotage his election victory in 2016. Trump is seen right with Putin in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017
Trump was impeached this week by the House of Representatives who say his demand of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (above) to investigate Joe Biden constituted an abuse of power
Trump apparently believes Russia that Ukraine is guilty of election meddling.
In fact, American intelligence officials say Russia has been working to spread the false claim of Ukrainian meddling in the US elections.
US spy agencies say that it was Moscow that launched an information campaign designed to influence American voters. Russia has denied this.
Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, investigated alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
While a number of Russian nationals were indicted, no officials from the Trump campaign were charged with conspiring with the Kremlin.
The former White House officials who spoke to the Post say Trump’s comments about Ukraine heightened concerns that Putin has been able to exert influence over the American president.
The former officials say that every time Trump was warned that Russia would try to disrupt future elections, the president would bring the topic back to Ukraine.
‘He would say: “This is ridiculous. Everyone knows I won the election. The greatest election in the world. The Russians didn’t do anything. The Ukrainians tried to do something”,’ one former official told the Post.
Trump’s suspicions of Ukraine were so strong that a month before he met Putin in Hamburg, the president resisted a meeting with the then-Ukrainian leader, Petro Poroshenko.
Aides were shocked when Trump at first declined to greet the Ukrainian leader at the White House.
Poroshenko was eager to meet the president so as to get a public American commitment to Ukraine as it faced military threats from Russia.
Eventually, Poroshenko met with Pence at the White House. Trump did stop by and shake the Ukrainian leader’s hand.
The president believes in a couple of Ukraine-related conspiracy theories making the rounds on right-wing websites.
One of them claims that Ukraine meddled in the election to try and help Hillary Clinton win the White House in 2016.
Trump told his special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, in May that the country was full of ‘terrible people’ who ‘tried to take me down.’
Putin himself suggested this at a news conference in Budapest in February 2017.
‘As we know, during the election campaign in the US, the current Ukrainian authorities took a unilateral position in support of one of the candidates,’ the Russian leader said.
‘Moreover, some oligarchs, probably with the approval of the political leadership, financed this candidate.’
Trump believes that Ukraine is to blame for the Mueller investigation.
While some individual Ukrainians did back Clinton, US officials serving in the Trump administration say there is no evidence to support the claim that the government made a concerted effort to back the Democrat.
Trump and his allies have also been pushing the so-called ‘CrowdStrike’ theory.
In June 2017, Trump reportedly resisted a meeting with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (seen above in Brussels in May 2019)
According to this claim, Ukraine has a computer server that proves Kyiv and the Democrats fabricated email hacks in 2016 in order to sabotage the Trump campaign and frame Russia.
‘I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … the server, they say Ukraine has it,’ Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call.
CrowdStrike is a private cybersecurity company that investigated the hacks of the Democratic National Committee’s computers in 2016.
The company found that hackers linked to Russian intelligence services were behind the hacks – a conclusion that was backed up by federal investigators, according to USA Today.
But Trump continues to cling to the theory.
‘Why wouldn’t [Clinton campaign chairman John] Podesta and Hillary Clinton allow the FBI to see the server?’ Trump told the Associated Press in April 2017.
‘They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based.
‘I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian, that’s what I heard.
‘But they brought in another company to investigate the server.
‘Why didn’t they allow the FBI in to investigate the server?’
CrowdStrike is based in California, not Ukraine. Its owner is not a Ukrainian national.
The company co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a naturalized American citizen who was born in Russia.
Trump has repeated the claim about CrowdStrike and Ukraine in interviews with Fox News and others.
A former administration official said aides have tried to convince the president that there is no truth to the CrowdStrike theory, but to no avail.
Tom Bossert, who served as Trump’s homeland security adviser, went on television and pleaded with the president to drop the ‘completely debunked’ theory.
‘The DNC server and that conspiracy theory has got to go,’ he told ABC News.
‘If he continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.’