Why Trump asked Ukraine's president to look into CrowdStrike, a U.S. cybersecurity company that recently went public

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into the U.S. company that helped investigate the hack of the Democratic National Committee servers that the Justice Department alleged was conducted by Russian operatives.
  • The company, CrowdStrike, is a security software vendor that went public earlier this year.
  • The exchange was revealed in a transcript of the call released by the Trump administration after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for an impeachment inquiry.
President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2019.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump asked Ukraine's leader to look into the U.S. company that assisted the Democratic National Committee in investigating a 2016 hack, a newly released White House summary of a July 25 phone call shows.

"I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it," Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the notes from the call, which were released on Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for an impeachment inquiry into the president. "I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike [sic]... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it."

CrowdStrike is a U.S-based security software vendor that went public in June and now has a market cap of $13.9 billion. The stock was down nearly 4% on Wednesday after the release of the summary, but later recovered slightly, closing down 0.8%.

Trump seems to be referring to CrowdStrike's role in investigating the 2016 breach of the Democratic National Committee's servers. Information from those servers was later leaked to the press, revealing confidential discussions among staffers running Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and other information. The U.S. Department of Justice ultimately charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking the servers to interfere with the presidential election.

Trump has previously suggested that the DNC should have turned over the email servers to the FBI instead of having CrowdStrike investigate, implying that the lack of cooperation should cast doubt on findings that the Russians helped him win the election. In fact, private investigations for these kinds of hacks are not uncommon, according to Axios. In the phone call, Trump appears to be referencing the idea that the server is stored in the Ukraine. Trump previously told The Associated Press that he "heard" that CrowdStrike was "owned by a very rich Ukranian," although the company's IPO filing says that the biggest shareholders are American venture capital backers including Warburg Pincus, Accel and Alphabet's CapitalG

"With regards to our investigation of the DNC hack in 2016, we provided all forensic evidence and analysis to the FBI," a CrowdStrike spokesperson said in a statement. "As we've stated before, we stand by our findings and conclusions that have been fully supported by the US Intelligence community."

The Trump administration decided to release the transcript of the call with Zelensky as pressure mounted in Congress for an impeachment inquiry following a whistleblower complaint about the July 25 call. In the call, Trump asks Zelenksy to look into former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.

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