Durham is currently investigating whether the security personnel were involved in a scheme to misuse sensitive, nonpublic internet data, which they had access to through their government contracts, to dredge up derogatory information on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign in 2016 and again in 2017, sources say. Prosecutors are also investigating whether some of the data presented to the FBI was faked or forged.
These sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive law enforcement matter, revealed Durham’s investigators have subpoenaed the contractors to turn over documents and testify before a federal grand jury hearing the case. The investigators are exploring potential criminal charges including handing over false information to federal agents and defrauding the government, the sources noted.
The campaign plot was outlined by Durham last month in a 27-page indictment charging former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann with making a false report given to the FBI. The document cites eight individuals who allegedly conspired with Sussmann, but refrains from identifying any by name.
The sources familiar with the probe have confirmed that the leader of the team of contractors was Rodney L. Joffe, who has regularly advised the Biden White House on cybersecurity and infrastructure policies. Until just last month he was the chief cybersecurity officer at Washington tech contractor Neustar Inc., which federal civil court records show was a longtime client of Sussmann at Perkins Coie, a prominent Democratic law firm recently subpoenaed by Durham. Joffe, 66, has not been charged with a crime.
Neustar has removed Joffe’s blog posts from its website. “He no longer works for us,” a spokeswoman confirmed.
A powerful and influential player in the tech world, Joffe tasked a group of computer contractors connected to the Georgia Institute of Technology with finding “anything” in internet data that would link Trump to Russia and make Democratic “VIPs happy,” according to an August 2016 email Joffe sent to the researchers. The next month, the group accused Trump of maintaining secret backchannel communications to the Kremlin through the email servers of Russia-based Alfa Bank. Those accusations were later determined to be false by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Justice Department inspector general and a Senate intelligence panel.
The Sussmann grand jury indictment states that the federal contractors, who mined private internet records to help “conduct opposition research” in coordination with the Clinton campaign, were driven not by data but by “bias against Trump.” Joffe’s lawyer has described his client as “apolitical.” He stated that Joffe provided Sussmann with information about Trump that he believed to be out of innocence and true concern for the nation.