In a new court filing last week, Special Counsel John Durham alleged 2016 Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign team paid a technology firm that mined internet data to establish a “narrative” linking Trump to Russia.
The court filing is linked to Durham’s ongoing prosecution of cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussman, whom Durham charged last fall with making false statements to the FBI. Sussman worked for the law firm Perkins Coie in 2016, which itself worked with the Clinton campaign.
Sussman has been charged with making false statements to the FBI about clients he was representing at the time he made claims of a connection between the Trump organization and a Russian bank. According to Durham, Sussman’s billing records reflect that he “repeatedly billed the Clinton campaign” for his work presenting the Trump-Russia allegations, but he told the FBI he was not acting on behalf of “any client.”
According to Durham, Sussman provided the FBI with “purported data” and “white papers” that “allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel” between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based bank, believed to be Alfa Bank.
Sussman allegedly worked with a technology executive, referred to in court filings as “Tech Executive 1,” at a U.S.-based internet company, referred to as “Internet Company 1.”
Tech Executive 1 allegedly enlisted the help of a U.S.-based university that was receiving and analyzing large amounts of Internet data as part of a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract. Durham alleged Tech Executive 1 “exploited his access to non-public and/or proprietary Internet data” and asked researchers to “mine internet data” in connection with efforts to establish “an inference” and “narrative” of connection between Trump and Russia.
The effort to fabricate a link between Trump and the Russian bank allegedly relied on exploiting domain name system (DNS) traffic for Trump Tower, Trump’s Central Park West apartment building, and the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP), as well as an unnamed healthcare provider.
“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,” the filing said.
In a meeting with one U.S. government agency, Sussman reportedly provided data he said indicated “suspicious DNS lookups between Trump Tower, another Trump property and a Russian mobile phone service, which he claimed demonstrated Trump or his associates were using a Russian phone service that was “supposedly rare” to see in the U.S.
Durham alleged that rather than it being rare to find U.S.-based DNS lookups for the Russian phone service, they had actually happened at least three million times in the U.S. between 2014 and 2017, and fewer than 1,000 came from IP addresses linked to Trump Tower.
Kash Patel, who worked as an aide to then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News that Durham’s filing, “definitively shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign directly funded and ordered its lawyers at Perkins Coie to orchestrate a criminal enterprise to fabricate a connection between President Trump and Russia.”
Patel said Sussman helped relay a false narrative about Trump and Russia to the U.S. government “in the hopes of having them launch investigations of President Trump.”
In a statement Saturday, Trump said Durham’s filing “provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.”
This article has been updated to clarify Durham’s statements about mining data, not infiltrating servers, and to include screenshots from his court filing.