A prominent tech guru who worked with the Clinton campaign to investigate Donald Trump’s possible links to Russia pleaded the Fifth to avoid cooperating with Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation, according to court filings.
Rodney Joffe said in a deposition this month that he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in response to a grand jury subpoena by Durham. Joffe testified that he was contacted by the special counsel more than a year ago to provide testimony and documents, seemingly about his efforts to investigate Trump. Joffe has been identified as the tech executive who worked with Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann to investigate purportedly suspicious email server contacts between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. The FBI investigated the allegations but ultimately found them baseless. Durham has released other evidence that casts doubt on the Trump-Alfa link.
Joffe’s interactions with the Durham team suggest the prosecutor is taking a hard look at Joffe’s work with the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump. While Joffe has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing, Durham has alleged that he "exploited" web traffic data for the White House, Trump Tower, and Trump’s apartment building in order to find "derogatory" information on Trump. Durham alleged that Joffe provided the information to Sussmann, who in turn shared it with the CIA in February 2017. Responding to the revelation, Trump called for criminal prosecution for the people involved in the "spying operation" against him.
Durham indicted Sussmann in September on charges of lying to the FBI about his investigation into Trump. Durham has also accused Sussmann of withholding evidence from the CIA during the 2017 meeting that would have undercut the theory that Trump had secret contacts with Alfa Bank.
Durham’s inquiry into Joffe’s activities could reach the Biden White House. Clinton campaign lawyers briefed national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Joffe’s findings in September 2016, when Sullivan served as Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy adviser.
Joffe first provided information to Sussmann in mid-2016. He claimed to have received data showing covert links between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. Sussmann, a cybersecurity attorney, fed the information to media outlets and shared it with the FBI’s general counsel during a meeting in September 2016. Durham alleges Sussmann lied during that meeting by denying he was looking into the server link on behalf of a client.
Attorneys for Alfa Bank deposed Joffe on Feb. 11 as part of a lawsuit to find out the origins of the computer data linking the bank to the Trump Organization. Alfa Bank alleges that someone fabricated the data in order to frame Trump and Alfa Bank. Joffe denied in his deposition to Alfa Bank’s lawyers that he fabricated the data. He also denied receiving any payments from the Clinton campaign. Joffe’s attorney, Steven Tyrrell, said during the deposition that he believed the Durham investigation will conclude within the next several weeks. Tyrrell did not respond to a request for additional comment.
Alfa Bank’s court filing sheds other light on the direction of the Durham probe.
A lawyer for Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Steele dossier, told Alfa Bank’s lawyers in a deposition on Feb. 14 that the company has cooperated with Durham for nearly a year. The Fusion GPS lawyer said in a deposition for the company’s cofounder, Peter Fritsch, that the firm is a "subject" of Durham’s investigation.
Fusion GPS commissioned the Steele dossier on behalf of Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias. Numerous federal and congressional investigations have debunked the dossier’s central claim of a "well-orchestrated conspiracy of cooperation" between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin in 2016.
Durham indicted the primary source for the dossier, Igor Danchenko, on charges that he lied to the FBI in 2017 about his sources of information for the salacious document.
Durham’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The Washington Free Beacon was once a client of Fusion GPS. All of the work Fusion GPS performed for the Free Beacon was based on public sources, and none of the work product appeared in the Steele dossier. For more information, see here.