March 21, 2023



Tech exec used entry to White Home computer systems to search for dust on Trump, says particular counsel

6 min read

A tech government “exploited” his entry to laptop information on the White Home to search out “derogatory info” about President Donald Trump, a particular counsel appointed throughout the Trump administration mentioned in a court docket submitting Friday.

John Durham, appointed by then-Lawyer Basic William Barr in 2020 to probe the origins of the FBI’s investigation of Russian election interference, mentioned “Tech Government-1,” not named within the submitting however first recognized by The New York Instances as Rodney Joffe, used his entry to area title system, or DNS, information to compile details about which computer systems and servers the White Home servers have been speaking with.

Trump and his allies mentioned the disclosure was proof that Trump was underneath surveillance whereas he was in workplace. “They have been spying on the sitting president of the USA,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, advised Fox Information on Sunday. “And it goes proper to the Clinton marketing campaign.” In an announcement Monday, Trump mentioned the alleged spying was “the largest story of our time, greater than Watergate.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, at a information convention in Washington, D.C., on July 21.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Pictures file

The submitting does not specify whether or not any of the information assortment occurred whereas Trump was in workplace. It additionally doesn’t allege that the content material of any communications from the Government Workplace of the President (EOP) or any events have been compromised or learn and there’s no indication information assortment went past figuring out the place the web site visitors got here from and the place it went.

Cybersecurity professional Rob Graham advised NBC Information that what Joffe appeared to have been doing was a seek for domains and addresses to which a pc had tried to attach.

Once you sort within the title of a web site like, Graham mentioned, DNS will translate it to a selected IP handle and a selected group of servers. Monitoring such site visitors reveals solely that one laptop or server is attempting to succeed in one other, he mentioned, not the contents of an individual’s display screen or messages.

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The disclosure about Joffe, who has not been charged, got here in a submitting within the court docket case of Michael Sussmann, a lawyer whom Durham’s workplace indicted in September in reference to allegations of mendacity about his relationship with the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential marketing campaign. 

Within the submitting Friday, prosecutors mentioned “Tech Government-1” gave Sussmann information about communications between laptop servers on the EOP, two Trump-owned buildings in New York and an unrelated medical agency with Russian-made cellphones close to the White Home.

In accordance with prosecutors, Sussmann gave the information to an unnamed federal company at a gathering on Feb. 9, 2017, 20 days into the Trump administration, and mentioned the information “demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates have been utilizing supposedly uncommon, Russian-made wi-fi telephones within the neighborhood of the White Home and different areas.”

“The Particular Counsel’s Workplace has recognized no help for these allegations,” the submitting mentioned.

John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court docket in New Haven, Conn., on April 25, 2006.Bob Youngster / AP file

In accordance with prosecutors, Sussmann didn’t open up to the company, recognized by the Instances because the CIA, that he was working for a shopper when he supplied the report, when he was really representing “Tech Government-1,” aka Joffe.

Authorized consultants mentioned Sussmann might face further authorized publicity if he did not disclose his relationship to Joffe.

On Monday, attorneys for Sussmann filed a response to the particular counsel’s Friday submitting, by which they alleged the particular counsel had tried to create the impression that Sussmann had supplied the CIA with information collected from the White Home throughout Trump’s presidency — regardless of realizing that information given to the company dated from the Obama administration.

“Though the Particular Counsel implies that in Mr. Sussmann’s February 9, 2017 assembly, he supplied Company-2 with EOP information from after Mr. Trump took workplace,” mentioned the lawyer, “the Particular Counsel is properly conscious that the information supplied to Company-2 pertained solely to the time period earlier than Mr. Trump took workplace, when Barack Obama was President.”

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The attorneys additionally mentioned that Sussmann by no means billed the Clinton marketing campaign for the February assembly with the CIA, nor might he have as a result of the marketing campaign had successfully ceased to exist.

Sussmann’s attorneys advised the court docket, “This isn’t the primary time on this case that the Particular Counsel has sought to incorporate allegations about uncharged conduct in public filings and finished so utilizing inflammatory and prejudicial rhetoric.”

In an announcement, a spokesperson for Joffe mentioned, “Opposite to the allegations in [the special counsel’s] latest submitting, Mr. Joffe is an apolitical web safety professional with a long time of service to the U.S. Authorities who has by no means labored for a political get together, and who legally supplied entry to DNS information obtained from a personal shopper that individually was offering DNS companies to the Government Workplace of the President (EOP).”

Joffe’s spokesperson mentioned that underneath the phrases of his contract, “the information may very well be accessed to establish and analyze any safety breaches or threats.”

“On account of the hacks of EOP and [Democratic National Committee] servers in 2015 and 2016, respectively, there have been critical and legit nationwide safety issues about Russian makes an attempt to infiltrate the 2016 election,” the spokesperson mentioned. “Upon figuring out DNS queries from Russian-made Yota telephones in proximity to the Trump marketing campaign and the EOP, revered cyber-security researchers have been deeply involved in regards to the anomalies they discovered within the information and ready a report of their findings, which was subsequently shared with the CIA.”

A spokesperson for particular counsel Durham’s workplace mentioned the workplace declines to remark past the court docket filings and any response shall be in future filings with the court docket. 

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Durham’s workplace initially indicted Sussmann in September. As NBC Information has beforehand reported, Sussmann’s indictment says that he was advising the Clinton marketing campaign in 2016 about cybersecurity issues and {that a} associate at his agency served as common counsel for the marketing campaign. In accordance with prosecutors, throughout a Sept. 19, 2016, assembly between Sussmann and the FBI’s common counsel on the time, James Baker, Sussmann advised Baker about suspicions referring to alleged secret communications between the Trump marketing campaign and Russia. Prosecutors mentioned Sussmann “said falsely” that he was not working for any shopper in reporting the suspicions.

The suspicions, which concerned web site visitors with Russia’s Alfa-Financial institution, have been later decided to be unfounded.

On the time of the indictment, Sussmann’s attorneys issued an announcement that mentioned: “Michael Sussmann was indicted at the moment due to politics, not information. … This case represents the alternative of every little thing the Division of Justice is meant to face for.

“At its core, the Particular Counsel is bringing a false assertion cost primarily based on an oral assertion allegedly made 5 years in the past to a single witness that’s unrecorded and unobserved by anybody else. The Division of Justice would ordinarily by no means convey such a baseless case.”

Durham’s investigation continues and has resulted in a single different indictment in addition to Sussmann’s. Final 12 months, he charged a Russian analyst who was a supply for the Steele file with mendacity to the FBI. 

Durham was additionally appearing U.S. lawyer for Connecticut throughout the Clinton administration and appearing U.S. lawyer after which U.S. lawyer throughout the Trump administration, leaving workplace final 12 months.

Friday’s court docket submitting was made as a part of an inquiry about whether or not the regulation agency Latham & Watkins had a battle of curiosity in serving as counsel to Sussmann as a result of it additionally represented different events with pursuits within the case.

CORRECTION (Feb. 15, 2022, 7:21 p.m. ET): A earlier model of this text incorrectly specified a time interval in particular counsel Durham’s Feb. 11 submitting when web information from the White Home was collected. The submitting was silent on when information assortment ended and what time interval the information lined; it didn’t say the gathering befell via February 2017 and thus throughout the Trump presidency.

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