A number of current and former White House officials are sounding the alarm on communications President Donald Trump has made to individuals overseas, who were part of attempts to coerce Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals.
These officials state that Trump’s communications with personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others who were part of the scheme were not encrypted or otherwise protected against from hacking from other foreign governments, including by Russia, The Independent reported.
“It happened all the time,” one anonymous official said.
Logs of phone conversations were released to the public by the House Intelligence Committee as part of its report on possible impeachment charges against the president.
Of particular concern is that nations could use the conversations in order to further their own ends — including Russia, which benefits from a widely debunked conspiracy theory alleging that Kyiv, and not Moscow, was responsible for an interference campaign during the 2016 presidential elections.
President Donald Trump, however, has embraced that theory nevertheless, discussing it as part of a 53-minute interview he took part in with hosts from Fox & Friends last month. Trump alleged, for instance, that Democrats gave an email server to a company called CrowdStrike, who hid it in Ukraine as part of an effort to frame Russia for its interference.
“That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?” Trump said, per reporting from the Washington Post.
US officials said it's "guaranteed" that Russia monitored Giuliani calls with Trump/White House; Moscow may know more about Ukraine plot than impeachment investigators. https://t.co/HxaRin7ia4
— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) December 6, 2019
CrowdStrike is not a Ukrainian company, and though many have alleged its co-founder is a Ukrainian citizen, he is actually Russian-born. There’s no evidence whatsoever that Democrats hid their server in Ukraine, through the company or otherwise, and intelligence agencies are unanimous in their thinking that Russia was responsible for the hacking.
If Russia indeed intercepted conversations between Trump and others, they could use information obtained from those calls to further Trump’s errant beliefs, officials have warned.
Trump, Giuliani, and others have “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion or in the twisting of information,” former CIA deputy chief of Russia operations John Sipher said.
“I guarantee the Russians have the actual information,” he added.