CNN Host Spars With Republican Congressman Who Says CrowdStrike is Part Owned by a Ukrainian: 'You Have Bad Information!'

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo pushed back against a conspiracy theory touted by a Texas congressman on Monday, who stated that a cybersecurity company previously employed by the Democratic and Republican National Committees to analyze their servers for security hacks.

During his appearance on Cuomo Prime Time, Texas Rep. Randy Weber pushed the claim that a Ukranian partially owns CrowdStrike. The theory has been a popular one among far-right pundits and media outlets, and originated from a 2017 report by then-Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan. Stanahan's report stated that Ukranian officials worked to elect Hillary Clinton to the White House in 2016, and the story was picked up by far-right fringes and evolved to include CrowdStrike as part of the conspiracy.

"Chris, was CrowdStrike involved in the D-Triple-C hacking?" Weber asked, prompting the CNN anchor to respond positively.

"Is Crowdstrike in part owned by [a] Ukrainian?" Weber asked, referring to the company's co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch.

"No," Cuomo replied, prompting Weber to eventually say that it is "not the information that we have."

"You have bad information," Cuomo answered, going on to explain that Alperovitch is "American-born of Russian descent." However, Alperovitch was born in Russia and has since become an American citizen.

"He's not Ukrainian, and even if he were, that's what you're going to hang it on?" Cuomo asked Weber.

The theory that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 hacking of servers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been frequently touted by President Donald Trump, including on his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. During the call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate CrowdStrike and an alleged missing server.

However, there is no proof that a server is missing or that Ukraine was working to get Clinton elected to the White House while Russia was working to influence the election for Trump. Various White House officials, including president's former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert and former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Still, the theory that Ukraine worked to elect Clinton and that Alperovitch is Ukrainian have persisted among far-right circles and some of Trump's political allies in Congress.

During Monday's interview, Cuomo tore into the conspiracy and listed other sources who have claimed that the accusation that Alperovitch is Ukrainian. "Your head of National Security Tom Bossert said that that was a joke. You heard testimony from experts saying it's a joke. The intel community says it's not true. Mueller said it's not true. Burr said it's not true," he said.

In reply, Weber defended Trump's request of Zelenskiy to investigate CrowdStrike. "What Trump is saying is go back and let's look at all the information on the DCCC server that helped fight against his campaign." Though Cuomo explained that there was not a server to steal, as the DCCC operated on a cloud system, Weber still used CrowdStrike as "an example of corruption" that Trump wanted investigated.

Shooting down claims of Ukrainian involvement in the DCCC hack, Cuomo pointed out that the DCCC hack was investigated by the FBI, the DNC and CrowdStrike. "What he went to Zelenskiy with was a conspiracy theory that there's some missing server, when there is no missing server," he said.

CyberStrike was founded in 2011 and is based out of California. According to its website, the company tries to counter breaches by malware. "Co-founders George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch realized that a brand new approach was needed-one that combines the most advanced endpoint protection with expert intelligence to pinpoint the adversaries perpetrating the attacks, not just the malware."

In 2017, Trump questioned why Democrats opted for the company to investigate the DCCC hack. "Why did the DNC REFUSE to turn over its Server to the FBI, and still hasn't? It's all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election," he tweeted.

Trump transcript
A transcript of a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is displayed during a hearing where Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia and David Holmes, the under secretary of state for political affairs, testified before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. The transcript noted that Trump requested that Zelenskiy investigate cyber-security company CrowdStrike. Drew Angerer/Getty