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Conspiracy Theory #9: The Whistleblowers Allegations Of Corruption By President Trump Have No Merit

The most basic definition of "corruption" amounts to exploiting one’s authority for personal advantage. President Trump faces an unprecedented inquiry into his abuse of the vast powers of the presidency for personal gain. The origins of Trump’s constitutional predicament are firmly rooted in the president’s embrace of political conspiracy theories. In an era when hyper-partisan news sources dominate political discourse, fanciful and factually-challenged political narratives spread like wildfire, radicalizing millions of Americans’ political leanings. Through indoctrination by partisan media sources, lurid conspiracy theories such as these lead far too many Americans to accept false narratives of egregious corruption or, worse, that millions of their fellow citizens are actively subverting the United States. The emergence of ever-more outlandish theories only reinforces such toxic assumptions. Worst of all, facts, truth and logic die an unceremonious death as political conspiracy theories propagate via hyper-partisan "news" sources and social media. Against this backdrop, a brief examination of the conspiracy theories that precipitated President Trump’s current political crisis - and the objectively false narratives that emerged in its wake - are in order.

1: The FBI investigation of Trump campaign coordination with Russia was a "deep state" (or Clinton/DNC) plot to damage Trump politically. The Reality: This is an absurdly baseless claim apparently embraced by the president himself. Worse, Trump has improperly pushed foreign leaders to discredit the well-understood origins of the FBI investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign. After years of exhaustive investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported that the FBI inquiry into the Trump campaign began with a tip-off from a foreign government. In short, a Trump aide disclosed to an Australian diplomat that Russia possessed political "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. This revelation prompted the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign. Of note, Mueller also reported that another foreign government (possibly Greece) relayed a similar warning to the FBI before the Australian government’s tip-off. Absolutely no evidence of a "deep state" plot to entrap Trump exists. 2: Vice President (and Democratic presidential candidate) Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, or both, engaged in corrupt activities in Ukraine.

The Reality: This conspiracy theory is completely unfounded. The former Ukrainian prosecutor general has stated that there is no evidence of illegal activity by the Bidens and no grounds to investigate either of them. Perhaps most importantly, had Hunter Biden engaged in corrupt activities in Ukraine, Vice President Biden’s push to remove an ineffective Ukrainian prosecutor general would have potentially placed his son in legal jeopardy. 3: Joe Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukraine to remove the prosecutor investigating the company that hired his son. The Reality: The investigation into the Ukrainian company that hired Hunter Biden was inactive when the younger Biden began working at the company. Separately, allegations of wrongdoing by the company’s CEO predate Hunter Biden’s hiring. Moreover, America’s NATO allies, Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, and the International Monetary Fund all urged the firing of the ineffective Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden ultimately persuaded the Ukrainian government to dismiss.

In short, Joe Biden should be commended for prompting the removal of an ineffective prosecutor in a country riddled with corruption. 4: Ukraine mounted a coordinated effort to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The Reality: Ukrainian "interference" in the 2016 election centered on the release of documents detailing massive corruption by Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Right-wing pundits (and President Trump) are absolutely right that political corruption by an American occurred in Ukraine; the only problem is that the perpetrator (Manafort) served at the very top of the Trump campaign. Instead of criticizing Ukraine’s actions in 2016, Americans should thank the Ukrainian government for bringing Manafort’s illegal activities to light. Not only did they force Manafort’s resignation, the associated scrutiny assisted U.S. Trump’s campaign manager to justice. Manafort is currently serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence in federal prison. 5: As part of a massive Ukrainian plot to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, a Ukrainian-linked cybersecurity firm falsely accused Russia of hacking Democratic National Committee servers.