Durham Indictment: ‘Powerful’ Tech Executive 'Exploited His Access to Non-Public Data' to Dig Dirt on Trump

By Susan Jones | September 21, 2021 | 7:50am EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The indictment last week of a former Clinton campaign lawyer indicates that Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton -- including a "powerful" technology company executive with access to non-public data -- colluded in a corrupt effort to spread lies about the Trump campaign ahead of the 2016 election.

Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department employee who worked for the Clinton campaign through the Perkins Coie law firm, went to FBI General Counsel James Baker on Sept. 19, 2016, providing data and documents (documents that he helped write) alleging a "secret channel of communications" between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.

According to the indictment, the misleading information about a "mysterious computer back channel" between the Trump Organization and the Russian bank was passed to multiple media outlets by Sussmann, who "continued to bill his time for such work to the Clinton Campaign."

The resulting media reports in the fall of 2016 fed the lie planted by Sussmann, the technology executive and various others involved in the scheme, the indictment alleges.

Clinton herself tweeted about the press reports on October 31, 2016, and she included a statement from her adviser Jake Sullivan (now President Biden’s National Security Director) that said in part, “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow.”

Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI, which launched an investigation of the allegations he brought to them.

During his Sept. 19 meeting with FBI General Counsel James Baker, Sussmann allegedly "lied about the capacity in which he was providing the allegations to the FBI."

According to the indictment:

Specifically, SUSSMANN stated falsely that he was not doing his work on the aforementioned allegations "for any client," which led the FBI General Counsel to understand that SUSSMANN was acting as a good citizen merely passing along information, not as a paid advocate or political operative. In fact, and as alleged in further detail below, this statement was intentionally false and misleading because, in assembling and conveying these allegations, SUSSMANN acted on behalf of specific clients, namely, (i) a U.S. technology industry executive ("Tech Executive-I") at a U.S. Internet company ("Internet Company-I"), and (ii) the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign (the "Clinton Campaign").

SUSSMANN's lie was material because, among other reasons, SUSSMANN's false statement misled the FBI General Counsel and other FBI personnel concerning the political nature of his work and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis, including the identities and motivations of SUSSMANN's clients.

Had the FBI uncovered the origins of the relevant data and analysis, and as alleged below, it might have learned, among other things, that (i) in compiling and analyzing the Russian Bank-I  allegations, Tech Executive-I had exploited his access to non-public data at multiple Internet companies to conduct opposition research concerning Trump; (ii) in furtherance of these efforts, Tech Executive-I had enlisted, and was continuing to enlist, the assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university who were receiving and analyzing Internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract; and (iii) SUSSMANN, Tech Executive- I, and Law Firm-1 [Perkins Coie] had coordinated, and were continuing to coordinate, with representatives and agents of the Clinton Campaign with regard to the data and written materials that SUSSMANN gave to the FBI and the media.

The indictment says the FBI eventually concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations of a secret Trump-Russia communications channel.

In fact, the FBI investigation revealed that the email server exchanging data with the Russian bank "was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization at all. It was administered by a mass marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump hotels and hundreds of other clients.

The indictment signed by Special Counsel John Durham, dated Sept. 16, 2021, runs for 26 pages.

Tech Executive-1:

The indictment devotes an entire section to Tech Executive-I, who is not named but whose name is not difficult to discover through a cursory Internet search.

The indictment alleges that Tech Executive-I used his access at multiple Internet companies to conduct opposition research and create a "narrative" regarding Trump.

According to the indictment:

Tech Executive-1 used his access at multiple organizations to gather and mine public and non-public Internet data regarding Trump and his associates, with the goal of creating a "narrative" regarding the candidate's ties to Russia.

Tech Executive-1 later shared certain results of these data searches and analysis with SUSSMANN so that SUSSMANN, in turn, could provide them to the media and the FBI.

The indictment gives the following example:

Tech Executive-­I directed and caused employees of two companies in which he had an ownership interest ("Internet Company-2" and "Internet Company-3") to search and analyze their holdings of public and non-public internet data for derogatory information on Trump...In connection with this tasking, Tech Executive-1 later stated that he was working with someone who had close ties to the Democratic Party and to Hillary Clinton.

The indictment says the personnel at Internet Company-3 who were told to find derogatory information on Trump “were uncomfortable regarding this tasking from Tech Executive-I because they believed that using the companies' data in this manner was inappropriate. They complied with the tasking, however, because Tech Executive-I was a powerful figure at both companies.”

Tech Executive-1 similarly tasked … two computer researchers ("Researcher-I" and "Researcher-2") who worked at a U.S.-based university ("University-I") to search broadly through Internet data for any information about Trump's potential ties to Russia.

In connection with this tasking, and as alleged in further detail below, Tech Executive-1's goal was to support an "inference" and "narrative" regarding Trump that would please certain "VIPs." Moreover, and as alleged below, Tech Executive-1 provided information that he gathered through these interactions to his lawyer, SUSSMANN, so that SUSSMANN could assist in drafting and disseminating materials to the media and the FBI.

The indictment quotes Researcher-I as being concerned that claims of secret communication between Trump and the Russian bank would not withstand public scrutiny.

This researcher is quoted as saying, "The only thing that drives us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. This will not fly in eyes of public scrutiny. Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision. Time to regroup?"

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