The filing, which was submitted in connection with the indictment of Michael Sussmann, a former attorney to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, reveals that Rodney Joffe, a tech executive who was working with Sussmann, had exploited access to domain name system (DNS) internet traffic pertaining to the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP) as well as Trump Tower and Donald Trump’s Central Park West apartment building.
Joffe gained this access when his firm, Neustar, was hired by the government to “access and maintain dedicated servers for the EOP as part of a sensitive arrangement whereby it provided DNS resolution services” to the Executive Office of the President.
Durham doesn’t state whether Joffe’s access to the President’s Office was abused between 2014 and 2016 when Barack Obama was president. However, Durham alleges that when Trump became president, Joffe “and his associates exploited this arrangement by mining the EOP’s DNS traffic” in order to gather “derogatory information about Donald Trump.”
DNS functions as a phone book of the internet. By monitoring DNS internet traffic, Joffe would have had access to information about which websites were being accessed from the White House. But according to Durham, the DNS data was “among the Internet data” mined and exploited by Joffe, suggesting that Joffe had access to additional data about Trump’s internet activities.
Durham’s filing states that Joffe tasked a small group of university researchers to mine internet data to establish “an inference” and “narrative” tying Trump to Russia. Durham said that in doing so, Joffe “was seeking to please certain ‘VIPs.’” According to Durham, Joffe identified these VIPs as individuals at Sussmann’s law firm, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign.
It is noteworthy that—despite the new information disclosed regarding Joffe—Durham’s latest filing nominally pertains to a potential conflict of interest for Sussmann’s current counsel, Latham and Watkins. Latham previously represented other parties who are included in Durham’s investigation whose interests may conflict with Sussmann’s. In addition, Latham also represented Perkins Coie “in connection with events that likely will be relevant at trial,” and was cited by Durham as having “maintained professional and/or personal relationships with individuals who could be witnesses.”
Role of Biden National Security Adviser Jake SullivanDurham has implied that the efforts of Sussmann and Joffe’s team likely began sometime in April 2016. The initial indictment of Sussmann specifically notes that data had already been aggregated from “on or about May 4, 2016, through on or about July 29, 2016.”
The email exchange about the now-disproven Alfa Bank allegations took place on Sep. 15, 2016, only four days before Sussmann took the Alfa information to the FBI. Sussmann is charged with having misrepresented who his client was when he took the false Alfa allegations to the FBI.
Despite these claims, Sullivan played a material role in disseminating information regarding the Alfa Bank allegations, a fact that undoubtedly hasn’t escaped Durham’s attention.
CIA Relayed Early Warnings on Clinton Plot to Vilify TrumpSullivan’s role as a major promoter of the false Alfa Bank allegations is all the more notable in light of a declassified CIA memo that was sent to former FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok in September 2016.
That memo detailed the intercept of information that Hillary Clinton had purportedly approved “a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”
Durham’s indictment of Sussmann, along with his subsequent court filings, now confirm that the intelligence Brennan shared with Obama was correct—there was a plan to vilify Trump and that plan was being carried out by Clinton associates such as Sussmann and Joffe. And the CIA’s description of Clinton’s “foreign policy advisor” would appear to match Sullivan’s working title at the time.
The timing of Brennan’s briefing is significant because it came only three days before the FBI officially opened its Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. This also raises questions as to why the Clinton campaign wasn’t investigated by the FBI.
Durham’s indictment also notes that Sussmann took the Alfa Bank allegations, along with “additional allegations” which stemmed from Joffe’s surveillance of Trump’s internet activities at the White House, to the CIA on Feb. 9, 2017. That meeting, which appears to have involved several agency employees, is all the more notable given the CIA’s memo to the FBI regarding allegations that Clinton had approved the plan to vilify Trump.
It doesn’t appear that the CIA opened its own investigation or prompted the FBI to do so in the aftermath of the meeting with Sussmann. Curiously, by this time, the Alfa Bank allegations were public and had been investigated by the FBI, which had quickly refuted them. The “additional allegations” comprised DNS lookups that allegedly “demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House and other locations.”
In fact, as Durham explains, Sussmann and Joffe failed to disclose that there were millions of such lookups from U.S. internet addresses and that some of them occurred in the vicinity of the White House was meaningless.
Given the FBI’s earlier dismissal of Sussmann’s Alfa Bank data and the easily debunked Russian phone allegations, it seems surprising that the CIA didn’t contact the FBI or instigate an investigation into who was behind the false allegations—particularly when Sussmann was known within the intelligence community circles to be tied to the Clinton campaign.
Joffe’s Access to Highly Sensitive Data Disregarded by FBI, CIAIn the 1980s, Joffe, who is originally from South Africa, was involved in a mail scam in which people across the United States received notices by mail that they had “won” a grandfather clock. They were then asked to pay $70 to cover shipping and handling. Iowa’s then-Attorney General Tom Miller reached a settlement with Joffe, noting that at least 10,000 residents had been scammed. Miller said that the victims of the scam “were merely buying a cheap, battery-powered, pressed wood and plastic clock at an inflated price.”
While it isn’t known how Joffe was able to gain the security clearance sufficient to access highly sensitive data that included information on the president’s internet activities, the fact that he was able to do so raises serious national security concerns. According to Durham, the data went beyond DNS lookups, and could potentially encompass any number of sensitive files, including personal medical or tax information.
Although Durham is alleging that Joffe abused his access to this sensitive data to find derogatory information on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign, there is no way of knowing what else he might have done with the information. In addition to those affiliated with the Clinton campaign, any number of foreign adversaries or members of the media would have been very keen to access the data themselves. The fact that the FBI and CIA apparently weren’t disturbed by Joffe’s access and his efforts to exploit that access for political purposes is equally alarming.