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In his The Savage Nation radio broadcast on February 16, 2017, radio talk show host Michael Savage made four claims to discredit the story that “the Russians” hacked the DNC during this past election. (I am sure, also, that part of the reason was to promote his book.)

While Michael Savage can certainly be considered partisan, I’d like to know if any of the “facts” used to support his implication are true.

Anyway he asserted:

  1. The FBI did not conduct an independent investigation but instead relied wholly on a private cyber security firm, Crowd Strike.
  2. The FBI was not allowed access to the DNC servers.
  3. Dmitri Alperovitch, founder of Crowd Strike, is a noted anti-Russian activist.
  4. The investigation of the hacking was funded by Google Capital.

Are these four claims true?

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    None of which is prove of Russia's innocence. The only way to prove that is to prove that someone else did it. – ventsyv Feb 17 '17 at 14:43
  • @ ventsyv Understood. I realize that "facts" can be twisted and spun to lead to a specific conclusion, but right now its premature to determine if the conclusion is true or not. Instead, I'd like to know if there is any truth in the specific claims made. – Michael J. Feb 17 '17 at 14:49
  • as for #4, what would "Google Capital" be? or should it be "capital" with lowercase? also, it could be a (twisted) reference to this: motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/… – Federico Feb 17 '17 at 14:51
  • Here is a "podcast" YouTube version of the episode. Could you please provide time codes to when he made these claims, so we can resolve things like what "Google Capital" means? (I can't bring myself to listen to 100 minutes of this.) – Oddthinking Feb 17 '17 at 15:22
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    The hacking was investigated by multiple US intelligence agencies using public and non-public methods. The most significant evidence that was made publicly available was Crowd Strike's forensic report, but that doesn't mean that was the only evidence. AFAIK, the FBI never requested access to DNC servers. – antlersoft Feb 17 '17 at 15:34
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The four statements contain varying degrees of truth, but none are strictly wrong.

According to the FBI, they reached out to the DNC to examine their computer systems, but were rebuffed by the DNC. The FBI continuously stressed to the DNC that they needed direct access, but were not able to come to terms with the DNC until after they had enlisted the help of CrowdStrike to examine their systems. The FBI was then allowed to go through with their investigation, but only through CrowdStrike as a subsidiary.

This is a link to a CNN story entitled "FBI: DNC rebuffed request to examine computer servers" that was published January 5, 2017. Relevant to points (1) and (2) are the sections:

The Democratic National Committee "rebuffed" a request from the FBI to examine its computer services after it was allegedly hacked by Russia during the 2016 election

The FBI instead relied on the assessment from a third-party security company called CrowdStrike

However, according to a story published on Buzzfeed (which is also referenced in the CNN story), Eric Walker, the DNC’s deputy communications director, claimed that the FBI never reached out to the DNC to examine their servers (emphasis theirs).

The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers

Note that while points (1) and (2) seems to be stuck in a he-said-she-said situation, there seems to be no question that CrowdStrike was working with the DNC, as evidenced by this Esquire Magazine article about CrowdStrike and its time working with the DNC during the 2016 Election Campaign. Note that this also seems to confirm that Dmitri Alperovitch, and indeed CrowdStrike as a whole, are against Russia, specifically the Putin regime, and are actively fighting to combat Russian cyber-attacks.

As for Google Capital (or CapitalG as it is now called), there seems to be no question that CrowdStrike has received funds from the Venture Capital arm of Google. Here are articles from Fortune 500, The Wall Street Journal (note: paywall but can see the relevant data), Business Insider, and the CrowdStrike Wikipedia entry detailing the connection between CapitalG and CrowdStrike.


EDIT: At ventsyv's suggestion and after pointing it out to me, FBI Director James Comey did announce during a Congressional investigation that

...the FBI would have preferred to "get access to the original device or server" that was the target of hacking at the DNC. CNN previously reported that the Democratic National Committee "rebuffed" a request from the FBI to examine its computer services after it was allegedly hacked by Russia during the 2016 election.

The FBI instead relied on the assessment of a third-party security company called CrowdStrIke. Comey told senators that the "highly respected private company eventually got access and shared" the evidence with the FBI.

So it appears that Michael Savage jumped on the first reports from the FBI and did not see the follow-up testimony by Director Comey. The first article implies that the DNC was unwilling to provide the FBI access to their servers, but when put in the context of the Esquire article and the followup CNN report, it makes it seem more likely that CrowdStrike was involved in the initial work in the hacks, and the FBI only became involved after it became publicly known that there was a hack of the DNC.

Also from the Esquire article, it seems that the DNC, at the advice of CrowdStrike, did a full wipe of their computer systems after the hack took place. This would explain why the FBI had to receive the evidence from CrowdStrike instead of from the servers directly.

  • Pretty sure that James Comey testified in front of congress to that effect - that they did not examine the computers but examined the evidence provided to them by "highly reputable firm" (paraphrasing). Might be worth adding that to the answer. – ventsyv Feb 17 '17 at 20:46
  • Do you have a source for that? I'd love to add it if I can source it. – DenisS Feb 17 '17 at 22:00
  • Never mind, found it! Edited with new information on the bottom. – DenisS Feb 17 '17 at 22:12
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    I would say (4) is a truth stretched so thin as to become a flat-out lie. While Google did indeed fund CrowdStrike, they did this in 2015 rather than after the DNC hack in 2016, and they funded it because "Security is of foremost interest to Google." The quote is from the Fortune 500 link in this answer, which directly quoted a Google Capital partner. Google has very real security concerns that trumps its political concerns. – David Hammen Feb 19 '17 at 17:26

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