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Monday, December 16, 2019

The Impeachment of Ted Cruz

The purpose of this blog post is to impeach the testimony given my Senator Ted Cruz on ABC This Week about the crimes of President Donald Trump against the people of Ukraine and the people of the United States. Specifically, what he said to George Stephanopoulos impeaches this "juror” even before the “trial”:
Now, I'm not suggesting that you can cook up fraudulent attacks on your opponents. This would be a very different allegation if someone would say: If the president had said, “Please concoct something that isn't real,” that would be qualitatively different. That's not what the transcript says. The transcript says, “Investigate what happened, find out what happened.”

Trump never said, “Investigate what happened, find out what happened,” in the redacted transcript released by the White House. He didn't ask for an honest investigation of corruption in Ukraine. He did precisely what Ted Cruz was so quick to deny he did; he asked the Ukrainians to cook up a fraudulent attack on his opponents. In effect, he said to President Zelenskyy “Please concoct something that isn't real.” They even left the proof in the redacted transcript, as we shall see.

It is well known that Trump never spoke of corruption in either of his calls with Zelenskyy. He also never spoke of “investigation” or “investigations,” although the eager-to-please Zenlenskyy mentioned “the investigation” four times, and “that investigation” once in the infamous 25 July call, including:
“...and in addition to that investigation..."

"...so, we will take care of that and will work on the investigation...”

“I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation..”

“I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation.”
Now, the Ukrainian President may say that he felt no pressure, but back then he seemed more obsessed with Trump's “investigation” than with the war with Russia that is killing thousands of his own countrymen.

While Trump never spoke of corruption or investigation, he made it very clear to Zelenskyy what “the investigation” was expected to find. Right after he famously said, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” he goes on to elaborate on his expected return:
“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.”
Later, on a call-in to Fox and Friends, 22 Nov., Trump put a little more meat on the bones of these conspiracy theory buzzwords:
Donald Trump: “A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine. You know, it’s very interesting, it is very interesting. They have the server, right? From the DNC, Democratic National Committee.”

Brian Kilmeade: “Who has the server?”

Donald Trump: “The FBI went in, and they told them, 'Get out of here, we’re not giving it to you.' They gave the server to CrowdStrike, or whatever it’s called, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian, and I still want to see that server. You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”

Steve Doocey: “Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to the Ukraine?”

Donald Trump: “ Well, that is what the word is. And that’s what I asked, actually, in my phone call, if you know. I mean, I asked it very point-blank, because we’re looking for corruption.”
Even if there are legitimate areas of investigation with regards to Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 US election, the conspiracy theory that Crowdstrike is a Ukrainian company, or owned by a Ukrainian, and that it is hiding the DNC server in Ukraine is utter nonsense. But does anybody seriously think that the leader of a country at war can risk the consequences of doing an investigation, and coming back and telling Donald Trump the truth? That his conspiracy theories about Ukraine, Crowdstrike, and The Server, are so much phooey? Of course, Trump was demanding that they “concoct” something up. Everybody seems willing to cover up this deeply criminal aspect of Trump's corruption with the euphemism of “investigation of the 2016 election.” This was to be an “investigation” Trump Style, an investigation designed to reach a foregone conclusion.


CrowdStrike is the “who ya gonna call” of cybersecurity. It is a publicly traded US company based in Irvine, CA with $250 million in revenues last year. It was founded in by two cybersecurity experts, George Kurtz, and Dmitri Alperovitch, that left the software security firm McAfee after Intel bought it, and Gregg Marston, now retired, from an IT security provider owned by McAfee. No Ukrainians, although Alperovitch, now a US citizen, was born in Russia, and came to the US as a teenager

It partners with more than 40 IT companies, including IBM, AWS, Dell, and Google Cloud. Its thousands of customers include Rackspace, Amazon, Verizon, Pacific Life, Well Cornell Medicine, Union Bank, Tribune Media, Sony, Sega, Prime Insurance, Mack Industries, ADP, Berkshire Bank, Hyatt, Pokémon, and the City of San Diego. It has also been widely used by both Republicans and Democrats, including Bernie 2020 and Emily's List.

Maybe the confused mind of Donald Trump “concocted” his “Ukraine company” nonsense from stuff being promoted along those lines by ultra-right and pro-Putin websites all over the Internet. This excerpt from Liberty Blitzkrieg is a “perfect” example of facts woven together in such a way that the weak-minded might well conclude that Crowdstrike is a Ukrainian company:
The firm’s CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk.
The Russian immigrant Alperovitch is Senior Fellow for Cyber Statecraft Initiative. Victor Pinchuk is one of 48 members of the Atlantic Council International Advisory board, along with Rupert Murdoch, who probably also funds it. Nevertheless, Russian sources, like Sputnik, have been promoting the view:
{T]hat some of the key assumptions underpinning the [Mueller] report's entire argument had been verified by entities with a vested interest in Ukraine.
Trump was parroting Russian propaganda about Ukraine to Zelenskyy, and asking him to verify it with a bogus investigation.

The Server, The Server..

There was no The Server, OK? The Democratic National Committee didn't run on “a” server, it ran on a great many servers, most of them cloud servers, and lots of them got hacked by the Russians. They had to “decommission more than 140 servers,” according to 2018 DNC court filings. CrowdStrike did much of the detective work and post-attack security. Ever since they published their conclusions about Russian government responsibility for the DNC hacks, they have been on the hit-list of a curious collection of groups, and Donald Trump.

Also, when the right-wing media pundits proclaim “the patent importance of the physical server system to the FBI," they only reveal their own ignorance. I've been in IT for half a century, and I'm here to tell you that you don't do a cyber investigation on the physical server. It's not like you're going to find the hacker's fingerprints on it. What you need is an image of the server's storage, and if possible, its memory dump at the time of the breach. That is the subject of your investigation. Once the image is taken, that is everything you need. You never examine the “physical server” even to the extent that there is one in cloud computing. The server itself is wiped clean and rebuilt so the enterprise can carry on after the attack.

When deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s National Security Division Adam Hickey appeared on a panel before the House Judiciary Committee, 22 October 2019, and was asked by Debbie Lesko (R-AZ 8th District):
“Looking back at the FBI’s activities investigating the 2016 election, it has been reported that the FBI never obtained the original servers from the Democratic National Committee that had allegedly been hacked by Russia, instead relying upon imaged copies. First of all, is that correct?”
Hickey simply said that they got what they needed from Crowdstrike, noting that “it’s pretty common for us to work with a security vendor in connection with an investigation of a computer intrusion.”

If you think you may have been hacked, the way this works is that you don't just call the police, because they don't drop everything and come over to investigate your systems. You call a cyber-security company, like CrowdStrike, and if they find evidence of an illegal intrusion, then you have something to make the cops, or feds, take you seriously, for what that's worth. The sad truth of cyber-crime is that the victim almost always pays for the investigation. That's just the way it is. So, there was really nothing to see here with regards to charges made by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), in the Putin-friendly Consortium News and promoted by Moscow-based Sputnik that:
Major deficiencies include depending on a DNC-hired cybersecurity company for forensics.
These claims promoted by Trump have absolutely no basis in fact, although they appear to have their origins with Paul Manafort, and have been strongly supported by many Russian backed, and right-wing websites. It should not be overlooked that these conspiracy theories Trump was pushing onto the Ukrainians are really stupid-crazy, and have been refuted many times by NBC News, Axios, Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Wired, and many others.

Ironically, Ted Cruz, in his rush to deny something Stephanopoulos never charged, revealed the real extent of the corruption Trump was demanding of Zelenskyy. He wasn't just demanding what both Republicans and Democrats have deceptively referred to as “an investigation of the 2016 elections.” Trump let Zelenskyy know that “the investigation” had to support his loony theory about Crowdstrike and “The Server” hidden in Ukraine. Trump provided Zelenskyy with “alternate facts” to find, along with his marching orders for an investigation. Trump wasn't just asking Nolenskyy to do an investigation, he was inviting him to a meeting in Fantasyland.

I rest my case.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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