NATIONAL NEWS

Special counsel Durham alleges Clinton campaign lawyer used data to raise suspicions about Trump

Feb 15, 2022, 8:04 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:18 pm
Attorney John Durham says in the filing that Michael Sussmann, the Democratic lawyer, spoke about i...
Attorney John Durham says in the filing that Michael Sussmann, the Democratic lawyer, spoke about internet data related to Trump in a meeting with a federal agency, which sources say was the CIA. (Bob MacDonnell/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service/Getty Images)
(Bob MacDonnell/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Special counsel John Durham accused a lawyer for the Democrats of sharing with the CIA in 2017 internet data purported to show Russian-made phones being used in the vicinity of the White House complex, as part of a broader effort to raise the intelligence community’s suspicions of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia shortly after he took office.

The accusation — which Durham couched in vague, technical language in a court filing late Friday — has been seized upon by Trump and his supporters, who claim the former President was subjected to a smear campaign.

Durham says in the filing that Michael Sussmann, the Democratic lawyer, spoke about internet data related to Trump in a meeting with a federal agency, which sources say was the CIA, more than five years ago. Sussmann claimed the information “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,” according to the filing.

Durham’s office said it found nothing to support the allegation. The special counsel also noted that the data showed a Russian phone provider connection involving the Executive Office of the President “during the Obama administration and years before Trump took office.”

The data was compiled by a tech firm that had special access to the purportedly suspicious internet data through an “arrangement” with the US government, and that firm was in touch with Sussmann, according to the filing.

An executive at the tech company, Rodney Joffe, and his associates exploited this arrangement by mining domain name system traffic associated with the Executive Office of the President and other data “for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump,” Durham’s prosecutors wrote.

Joffe is not charged with any crime.

A spokesperson for Joffe said he “is an apolitical internet security expert with decades of service to the U.S. Government who has never worked for a political party, and who legally provided access to DNS data obtained from a private client that separately was providing DNS services to the Executive Office of the President (EOP).”

“Upon identifying DNS queries from Russian-made Yota phones in proximity to the Trump campaign and the EOP, respected cyber-security researchers were deeply concerned about the anomalies they found in the data and prepared a report of their findings, which was subsequently shared with the CIA,” the spokesperson added later in the statement.

Sussmann last fall pleaded not guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI about a separate meeting. Defense attorneys for Sussmann called Durham’s recent statements in court about the internet data “misleading.”

“The Special Counsel has again made a filing in this case that unnecessarily includes prejudicial — and false — allegations that are irrelevant … and are plainly intended to politicize this case, inflame media coverage, and taint the jury pool,” they wrote in a court filing Monday night.

They said Durham had a fact wrong: that Sussmann told the CIA about internet data related to Russian phones being used around the White House before Trump was President, and not from after he took office.

Durham’s most recent assertions in court about Sussmann implied that the CIA heard from him about Russian phones being used around the White House after Trump became President as a way to raise the intelligence communities’ suspicions about Trump.

But Sussmann says that isn’t so.

“Although the Special Counsel implies that in Mr. Sussmann’s February 9, 2017 meeting, he provided Agency-2 with (Executive Office of the President) data from after Mr. Trump took office, the Special Counsel is well aware that the data provided to Agency-2 pertained only to the period of time before Mr. Trump took office, when Barack Obama was President,” Sussmann’s lawyers wrote.

Sussmann’s team added that the reasons for concern that Sussmann took to the CIA about Trump and Russia weren’t intentionally manipulative.

Durham’s office says in the filing that he plans to use the information in it at Sussmann’s trial. Durham’s office declined to comment further.

Right-wing media outlets and Republican politicians, including Trump, are citing Durham’s court filing to accuse Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign of spying on Trump because of the use of the data.

But Durham’s court filing doesn’t allege that the pro-Clinton researchers’ use of internet data meant that there was any eavesdropping on content of communications.

Durham has used the Sussmann case to more broadly draw attention to the role of unsavory political opposition research in the 2016 election.

Sussmann is charged with making a false statement to the FBI about his representation of the Democrats, when he shared data that pro-Clinton researchers believed linked Trump Organization servers to a Russian bank in 2016.

The five-year statute of limitations appears to have passed for Durham to accuse Sussmann of any wrongdoing related to his meeting with the CIA. Passing along information from researchers to intelligence officials for further investigation is not uncommon and isn’t necessarily a crime.

The new details were included in a more mundane request to have Sussmann agree to waive any conflict-of-interest issues that could arise because his lawyers have represented others connected to the investigation in the past.

Sussmann is set to go to trial in a few months, and the case is largely expected to be based on the testimony of former FBI General Counsel James Baker, who has made shaky statements in testimony over the past few years about his memory of his interactions with Sussmann.

This story has been updated with additional details and reaction.


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Authorities stand guard by a fence outside the Supreme Court following Supreme Court's decision to ...
DÁNICA COTO and CARA ANNA Associated Press

US abortion ruling sparks global debate, polarizes activists

The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States has pemboldened abortion opponents around the world, while advocates of abortion rights worry the Supreme Court ruling could threaten recent moves toward legalization in their countries.
1 day ago
NASA's first spacecraft designed to study a metallic asteroid won't be launching this year as plann...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

NASA’s Psyche mission to an unexplored metal world comes to a halt

NASA's first spacecraft designed to study a metallic asteroid won't be launching this year as planned, according to an announcement made by the agency on Friday.
1 day ago
Meeting of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with representatives of foreign media. (Ukrainia...
Associated Press

NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images)...
MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

Moderna COVID-19 shots now an option for older kids in US

There is now a second COVID-19 option for kids ages 6 to 17 in the U.S.
1 day ago
Abortion-rights and Anti-Abortion rights activists fill first street in front of the U.S. Supreme C...
Cindy St. Clair

How abortion laws will change in states surrounding Utah

The Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health allows states to reshape abortion laws. Utah’s trigger law will restrict abortion in most cases. Here’s a look at what laws will look like in surrounding intermountain states.
1 day ago
A United Airlines plane lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 07, 2022 in San Franc...
DAVID KOENIG, AP Airlines Writer

Pilots in line for big raises amid global travel disruptions

The largest pilots union has approved a contract that would boost the pay of pilots at United Airlines by more than 14% over the next 18 months, potentially clearing the way for similar wage hikes throughout the industry.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Special counsel Durham alleges Clinton campaign lawyer used data to raise suspicions about Trump