Indicted former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann shared data purported to show rare Russian-made phones being used near the Trump White House as part of an alleged scheme to tie former President Donald Trump to Russia, special counsel John Durham alleged in his latest filing.
Durham's pretrial motion, filed Friday evening, accuses an unnamed "tech executive" of exploiting his access to nonpublic internet information and instructing "researchers to mine internet data to establish 'an inference' and 'narrative' tying then-candidate Trump to Russia" in an effort to "please certain 'VIPs,'" including people in the Clinton campaign.
CNN reported that Sussmann, who has been charged with making a false statement to a federal agent, shared the purported data with a federal agency — which sources said was the CIA — in 2017 as part of a broader effort to raise the intelligence community's suspicions of Trump's ties to Russia.
Sussmann claimed the data "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, CNN reported.
The special prosecutor's office said it found nothing to support Sussmann's allegation.
The filing also said that the data showed a Russian phone provider connection involving the White House "during the Obama administration and years before Trump took office," CNN reported.
The unnamed tech executive, who was later identified as Rodney Joffe, and his associates mined 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," the filing said. Joffe is not charged with any crime.
"Upon identifying DNS queries from Russian-made Yota phones in proximity to the Trump campaign and the [executive office of the president], respected cybersecurity 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," a Joffe spokesperson said, CNN reported.
Defense attorneys for Sussmann said Durham had a key fact wrong.
"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, CNN said.
Sussmann was indicted in September for lying to the FBI. The five-year statute of limitations appears to have passed for Durham to accuse the lawyer of any wrongdoing related to his meeting with the CIA, CNN reported.
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