Where Does Durham Stand With Rodney Joffe?
Margot Cleveland has been following the Alfa Bank civil case against Rodney Joffe. Obviously a civil case is never going to be able to dig as deeply as a criminal investigation, but when the civil case is ongoing at the same time as the criminal investigation we can glean clues as to what may be of particular interest to the criminal investigators. This is especially the case because it’s usually a safe assumption that, in such a situation, anywhere the civil lawyers go the criminal investigators have probably already been there.
Yesterday Margot offered a summary of recent developments in the civil case. Note that, while she gleaned the information from the civil case, what’s of interest is what it hints at about the Durham investigation:
Not surprisingly, we learn that Joffe has taken the Fifth in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by Durham—as well as under questioning by Alfa Bank lawyers. That’s a clear indication that Joffe is very much in Durham’s sights, and probably hasn’t been offered a deal at this point. Joffe knows he’s in trouble. We already knew that, of course, from Durham’s “narratival indictments” and other related filings, but this is definitely confirmatory. Here’s a summary from Chuck Ross’ Washington Beacon article that Don Surber quotes:
The Washington Free Beacon reported, "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."
What I found by far the most interesting thing about this new information has to do with a significant player that we’ve had an eye on for a long time—and whom we know has also been subpoenaed by Durham: former Dianne Feinstein staffer and major Dem operative, Dan Jones. He shows up in the last of Margot’s “4 New Things”:
4. It’s Not Just the FBI and CIA We’re Talking About Here
We’ve known for a long time that Jones, Sussmann, and Joffe were interacting extensively in the Russia Hoax, and that they were also interacting with Fusion GPS (Glenn Simpson). Here we learn that Jones was also working with at least two Dem senators (one of them named as Jack Reed, D-RI) who had been provided with data “assembled by” Joffe. What was that data? Was it data that Joffe had gathered based on his access to servers for the Executive Office of the President? Reading between the lines, I have to assume that this activity was pretty widely known within the Senate:
In the special counsel’s criminal case against Sussmann, Durham’s team revealed that Sussmann had provided the “evidence” of the Alfa Bank-Trump covert communication channel to the FBI on September 19, 2016 and shared an updated version of the Alfa Bank allegations with the CIA on February 9, 2017. According to the special counsel’s office, Sussmann also provided the CIA data that purported to show traffic at Trump-related locations connecting to the “internet protocol” or “IP addresses” of a supposedly rare Russian mobile phone provider.
The questioning of Joffe by Alfa Bank’s attorney now suggests Sussmann may have also provided that same data to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
One of the “Democratic senators approached a former Senate staffer named Daniel Jones and asked him to give the data a closer look,” The New Yorker article continued. Jones then spent a year researching the Alfa Bank allegations and writing a report for the Senate.
According to The New Yorker’s coverage, then, the senators had the data and provided it to Jones. Jones confirmed that sequence when [the] former Sen. Dianne Feinstein staffer and founder of the left-wing The Democracy Integrity Project sued Alfa Bank seeking to keep confidential his deposition testimony and documents provided to the Russian bank.
In his complaint, Jones stated in court filings that in early-to-mid 2017, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee asked him to research the alleged connections between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. Specifically, the Senate committee “requested that Mr. Jones evaluate information it had received about DNS look-ups between Alfa Bank servers and Trump Organization servers.”
While Jones does not identify that source [of the data he analyzed] or the source’s representative with whom he met, in Joffe’s deposition, Alfa Bank lawyers stated that Jones had testified he had “liaised with Mr. Joffe on various issues related to the server allegations.” The “sensitive contracts” language from Jones’ filing also seems eerily like Durham’s charge that Joffe had exploited internet data, including some accessed under sensitive government contracts.
“Sensitive government contracts” is a strong hint that Joffe had provided the Armed Services Committee with the data he obtained from the Executive Office of the President. I don’t think that’s the usual way the Legislative Branch obtains Executive Branch records. This also provides an eye opening look at the extent to which the Establishment was weaponized against Trump. Bear in mind that at the time in question the GOP still controlled the Senate.
Alfa Bank’s questioning of Joffe also seems to suggest a similar theory: “Were you aware that Mr. Sussmann provided documents including white papers and data files to Congress?” Alfa Bank’s counsel asked, clarifying that she meant not just the actual senators or representatives but also their staff. And “did you direct Mr. Sussmann to provide such documents to Congress?” the Russian bank attorney continued.
While Joffe refused to answer the questions, again pleading the fifth, Joffe admitted in his deposition that he knew Kirk McConnell. McConnell worked as a staffer for Sen. Jack Reed and in that role McConnell served as a contact for Jones related to the Alfa Bank research.
Durham appears to be unraveling one helluva conspiracy—one which drew in much of official DC. Don Surber, a longtime political observer, usually ends his snippets re Durham with a cynical jibe: “No excitement without an indictment.” Not today. Today he ends with:
Sphincters tighten in Washington.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Joffe was near the top of the conspiracy. The question is, Will Joffe cooperate with Durham? It’s hard to see someone who was involved in the conspiracy at the level that Joffe was simply skating. There could well be some hard bargaining. At any rate, these are all promising indicators that Durham really is getting places.