Durham alleges cyber analysts ‘exploited’ access to Trump White House server
John Durham, the special counsel appointed under former President Trump to investigate the FBI’s probing of Russian interference in the 2016 election, alleged in court that a tech executive “exploited” access to White House data in order to find damning information about Trump.
In a court filing submitted Friday, Durham’s office said that the executive, who is referred to in legal filings only as “Tech Executive-1” but has been identified in news reports as Rodney Joffe, used his company’s access to nonpublic government domain name system (DNS) data through a pending cybersecurity contract as he was analyzing supposed links between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.
“Tech Executive-1’s employer, Internet Company-1, had come to access and maintain dedicated servers for the EOP as part of a sensitive arrangement whereby it provided DNS resolution services to the EOP,” Durham’s office wrote, using an acronym for the White House’s Executive Office of the President.
“Tech Executive-1 and his associates exploited this arrangement by mining the EOP’s DNS traffic and other data for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump.”
An attorney representing Joffe did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
The filing came in Durham’s prosecution against Michael Sussmann, an attorney who represented Joffe and worked on behalf of the Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, for a single count of making false statements to the FBI’s general counsel.
Sussmann is accused of falsely telling the FBI’s top attorney in a 2016 meeting that he was not representing any client when he presented data that researchers believed could have established a connection between Trump’s business and the Moscow-based Alfa Bank.
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. His attorney did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
Neither Joffe nor the company from which he retired in 2021, Neustar, have been charged with any wrongdoing.
Sussmann was indicted in September, and prosecutors said at the time that the cybersecurity researcher he was representing took advantage of access to an executive branch office’s servers, but the charging documents did not specify the government entity.
Durham, who was appointed by former Attorney General William Barr, alleged that Sussmann was presenting the evidence in coordination with the Clinton campaign. The FBI and former special counsel Robert Mueller investigated the purported links between Trump and the Russian bank and found there was not enough evidence to support it.
Trump, who has expressed disappointment with Durham’s investigation for not sufficiently undermining the FBI’s 2016 investigation into his campaign, hailed the special counsel’s new revelations on Monday and criticized the lack of media attention it received over the weekend.
“It shows how totally corrupt and shameless the media is,” Trump said in a statement. “Can you imagine if the roles were reversed and the Republicans, in particular President Donald Trump, got caught illegally spying into the Office of the President? All hell would break loose and the electric chair would immediately come out of retirement. The good news is, everybody is talking about not only this atrocity against our Nation, but that the press refuses to even mention the major crime that took place.”
Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, said in a tweet on Saturday, “They didn’t just spy on Donald Trump’s campaign. They spied on Donald Trump as sitting President of the United States. It was all even worse than we thought.”
This story was updated at 1:15 p.m.
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