Prosecutors said the Durham team is still “looking closely” into whether Rodney Joffe, a tech executive and leading cybersecurity expert, defrauded the US government by misusing internet data from government contracts to search for derogatory information about Trump and Russia.
“We have not, to this point, charged a crime … but we are not able to say that a crime was not committed,” prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis told a judge Wednesday, adding that the statute of limitations for Joffe’s potential conduct has not expired and the probe is still under way.
Joffe worked on the Trump-Russia material with Sussmann, the Clinton campaign lawyer who was charged in September with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting where he passed along the data. Prosecutors claim Sussmann falsely told the FBI he shared the data as a concerned citizen, but he was really there on behalf of his clients: the Clinton campaign and Joffe.
Joffe’s lawyers blast Durham
Responding to Wednesday’s hearing, a spokesperson for Joffe said the latest comments from prosecutors were “baseless and reckless” and accused Durham of pushing an “unfounded political narrative through false innuendo” to connect Joffe to a supposed anti-Trump plot.
“Mr. Joffe did not defraud or mislead any branch of the US Government,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Furthermore, the data at issue did not belong to the Government and did not contain private or personal information about any individual, nor was it manipulated in any way.”
Lawyers for Sussmann say Joffe is a key part of their defense and will offer testimony that helps exonerate Sussmann. Sean Berkowitz, a Sussmann attorney, accused the prosecutors of making a “tactical decision” by holding the criminal probe over Joffe’s head as a way of blocking him from testifying at trial. Because of the potential criminal exposure of him, Joffe intends to plead the Fifth, according to his lawyers of him.
“They’ve been looking at this forever,” Berkowitz said. “They ought to be able to make a (charging) decision.”
Berkowitz has asked federal Judge Christopher Cooper to dismiss the case if prosecutors don’t give Joffe immunity to testify. Cooper said Wednesday that he’ll try to issue a ruling soon.
It has been known for a while that Sussmann shared the data from Joffe and his researchers with the FBI and later with the CIA after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. Prosecutors said Wednesday for the first time that the material had been later shared with Congress as well.
Prosecutors have previously said that Joffe’s company at the time, Neustar, had access to the internet data through a contract with DARPA, a Pentagon research agency. The contract was intended to hunt for cyber intrusions by hostile countries. Durham has said Joffe and his colleagues “exploited” their access to domain name system information to find dirt on Trump.
A spokesman for Joffe previously said he is “an apolitical internet security expert with decades of service to the US Government” and that his dealings with the data were perfectly legal. In court filings, Joffe’s lawyers said he has received harassing and threatening messages in the wake of the Sussmann indictment, in which he was repeatedly referred to as “Tech Executive 1.”