Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson Thinks It Scandalous that Lawyer of Hacking Victim Talks to FBI about Hack

In the never-ending scandal industry of Republican members of Congress trying to make a huge deal out of the fucking Steele dossier, Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson is demanding that Christopher Wray provide more information (including on the John Doe investigations into Scott Walker’s corruption in WI). Johnson never went to such lengths to obtain information from the FBI during the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, but I guess he has different priorities.

Among the things he’s demanding are details of a conversation that Perkins Coie attorney Michael Sussmann had with then FBI General Counsel James Baker.

According to public reports, former FBI General Counsel James Baker met with Michael Sussman, [sic] an attorney with the Perkins Coie law firm, which retained Fusion GPS in 2016 to research allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, author of the Steele dossier–and Mr. Sussman allegedly provided the FBI with information “related to Russian interference in the election, hacking and possible Trump connections.”

The John Solomon piece that has gotten Ron Johnson all hot and bothered about this contact says that Sussmann gave Baker some materials on Russian hacking and possible Trump connections with it.

Baker identified lawyer Michael Sussman, [sic] a former DOJ lawyer, as the Perkins Coie attorney who reached out to him and said the firm gave him documents and a thumb drive related to Russian interference in the election, hacking and possible Trump connections.

Michael Sussmann has been publicly identified as the person that helped the DNC respond to the Russian hack since June 14, 2016, the day the hack first became public.

Chief executive Amy Dacey got a call from her operations chief saying that their information technology team had noticed some unusual network activity.

“It’s never a call any executive wants to get, but the IT team knew something was awry,” ­Dacey said. And they knew it was serious enough that they wanted experts to investigate.

That evening, she spoke with Michael Sussmann, a DNC lawyer who is a partner with Perkins Coie in Washington. Soon after, Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor who handled computer crime cases, called Henry, whom he has known for many years.

His role in helping the DNC help respond to the hack was further described by the NYT’s magnum opus on it.

No one knew just how bad the breach was — but it was clear that a lot more than a single filing cabinet worth of materials might have been taken. A secret committee was immediately created, including Ms. Dacey, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Mr. Brown and Michael Sussmann, a former cybercrimes prosecutor at the Department of Justice who now works at Perkins Coie, the Washington law firm that handles D.N.C. political matters.

“Three most important questions,” Mr. Sussmann wrote to his clients the night the break-in was confirmed. “1) What data was accessed? 2) How was it done? 3) How do we stop it?”

Mr. Sussmann instructed his clients not to use D.N.C. email because they had just one opportunity to lock the hackers out — an effort that could be foiled if the hackers knew that the D.N.C. was on to them.

“You only get one chance to raise the drawbridge,” Mr. Sussmann said. “If the adversaries know you are aware of their presence, they will take steps to burrow in, or erase the logs that show they were present.”

The D.N.C. immediately hired CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, to scan its computers, identify the intruders and build a new computer and telephone system from scratch. Within a day, CrowdStrike confirmed that the intrusion had originated in Russia, Mr. Sussmann said.

The NYT even describes Sussmann and DNC executives meeting with “senior F.B.I. officials” — a description that would fit the FBI’s General Counsel, Baker, whom Sussman would have known from when they worked on national security cases at DOJ together.

The D.N.C. executives and their lawyer had their first formal meeting with senior F.B.I. officials in mid-June, nine months after the bureau’s first call to the tech-support contractor. Among the early requests at that meeting, according to participants: that the federal government make a quick “attribution” formally blaming actors with ties to Russian government for the attack to make clear that it was not routine hacking but foreign espionage.

“You have a presidential election underway here and you know that the Russians have hacked into the D.N.C.,” Mr. Sussmann said, recalling the message to the F.B.I. “We need to tell the American public that. And soon.”

In other words, there has been public reporting for years that Sussmann spoke to the FBI, reporting that even explains why he was involved — because he was the guy with experience working on cybersecurity. But in spite of that, the Chair of one of the committees most centrally involved in cybersecurity is now suggesting that victims of nation-state hacking and their lawyers should not talk to the FBI about that hacking.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

50 replies
    • BobCon says:

      A lot. It’s going to get worse.

      If the GOP holds the Senate and the Democrats win the House, I assume the Senate comittees will be doing everything in their power to undercut House investigations, with the assistance of the Trump camp.

      Trump will be stonewalling every Democratic investigation, and at the same time working with Grassley, Johnson and the rest to expedite the release of every possible misleading document.

  1. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    Pass the popcorn once the 116th Congress starts. The lame duck will be crazy, too, with the Flynn sentencing and those crimes sinking into the public psyche. Who knows how Trump will react if more indictments come down soon after the midterms (pedal to the metal Bobby Three Sticks!).

    Still hoping for an upset in the Senate. Fucking Ro Jo. WI deserves so much better. Tammy Baldwin is just a better human being by all measures. What do they see in these Walker types??

    Oh, and guess what, it was the DEMOCRATS who colluded with Russia, and it was funded by George Soros, and I am not even kidding, I will show you the right-wing nut-job Facebook posts saying so.

    It’s going to get interesting, pass the popcorn, too bad it’s our democracy in play.

  2. new-radical says:

    American Exceptionalism!

    The moment I understood that you had bought into this idea, I knew that the you and the rest of the world was fucked. Did you learn nothing from the Hanoverians, 1776!

    You were supposed to be the Nation who could throw-off the yoke! FMD

    Grow up America, the rest of us don’t have a vote!

  3. new-radical says:

    You went to sleep, the soft liberal voice of America went to sleep, but you need to wake up and fight.

    Around the rest of this world we have no say while you fuck us up. Get into it America, it’s a 24 hour world that you created.

    • Rayne says:

      When do you think we do our research and voluminous reading?

      I note Australia, awake while the U.S. sleeps, does a fair portion of fucking up the world. Not exactly setting a fine example with refugee detentions in Naurus (which preceded the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy) or increasing coal production and water consumption thanks to companies like Adani (poisoning the Great Barrier Reef long before Trump took office).

      And Australia willingly participates in FVEYS — has for decades.

      Perhaps while you’re waiting for U.S. liberals to get online and fight you might do the same.

      • new-radical says:

        Awake at last

        We are some of the worst! A microcosm of many world problems, especially our immigration problem. And we the current immigrants have never worked out a relationship with the previous lot.

        But fortunately we do not influence much, we are a pimple on the A…

        Although we cock many things up we have a pretty stable government system. An electoral roll and an independent redistricting system provides a base for compulsory voting. Everyone must vote. This changes the whole nature of political discourse.

        No loonie propaganda to attract the fringes. Very short election cycles which deliver a govt basically of the centre irrespective of what party gets in. If one side moves too far right (Abbott) or too far left (Gillard) they get thrown out. 68% of the population is within one standard deviation of the mean. These are the people who decide the politics.

        Here in OZ, I got nearly wiped out in the GFC, It is too late now for me to recover. A GFC orchestrated by greed in the US economic system. Governments here are trying to buy jobs, hence Adani, which many are working to stop, but the structure of work has changed and we do not have much of it. Many of the young see a future that they cannot afford. I am fighting with everything I have through my writing and my meta-theory for a sustainable world. As the publishing business has been destroyed by Amazon I must self-publish… phew, it is killing me!

        So I fight, but make little impact, but when you fight, you can change the world.

        That was my point. There are many people around the world who are affected by your system but who don’t get a vote.

        Fight for us.

        • Rayne says:

          The Naurus situation has been exceptionally bad, a virtual concentration camp. That must be fixed because the Kremlin is preparing another refugee crisis, this time out of Libya. Naurus also sets a horrible example to the U.S. because they can point to another English-speaking country which has established ‘camps’ combined with denial of basic human rights like adequate emergency medical care.

          I don’t think it’s the lack of fighting on our part at emptywheel that’s the problem. It’s a much bigger problem requiring many more fighters if human rights are not to backslide any further.

          • new-radical says:

            The offshore problem with Naru is a disgrace and the fight is on but it will be long and is probably lost. But I think you over emphasise our importance. Trump thinks Austramia is a small land-locked central European country.

            The immigration minister Dutton (who is a very nasty piece of work) just got one in the nuts but he did spill the PM. But immigration is not a key agenda item. Both parties and the 68% have bought into the “stop the boats” mantra.

            The political spin is that immigrants are being duped by professional smugglers who use rotting/leaking fishing boats, crammed to the gunnels with people for the one-way trip across some very treacherous water, and then everyone dies.

            My comment about American Exceptionalism was not directed at emptywheel whom I am very sure really are exceptional. I have found answers here for many questions that other sources do not provide. And I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute.

            But your system is broken. Will Trump get a second term?

            With Kavanaugh the ultra-right has corrupted the Supreme Court (this is not Conservatism) and that corruption will last long after I have shuffled off this mortal coil. Where is the democracy that the USA has promoted throughout my life? It appears to be gone.

            Where is the moral fibre of the centre, hijacked by the one% and supported by the enablers.

            Trump, McConnell, Ryan, Kavanaugh, Graham…, you know, the exceptional ones! The list goes on forever.

            These are the very people who should be excluded from the discourse.

            I throw these ideas into the ring in the spirit of discussion amongst some pretty smart people, not to be a smart-arse.

            • new-radical says:

              I touched a nerve that I didn’t intend to.

              I thought I was on the Trash Talk thread and went in with a stir.

              Smile at my mistake, I must drink either less or a lot more red when I post at night.

  4. Trip says:

    OT, but related to the force-fed administration-wide bullshit:

    Jobs Are No Excuse for Arming a Murderous Regime

    Military procurement generates fewer jobs than virtually any other form of economic activity, and many of the jobs associated with U.S. arms sales are created overseas in the purchasing nation as a condition of the sale. For example, as part of Mohammed bin Salman’s much-touted economic plan, the goal is to have a full 50% of the work generated by Saudi arms imports done in the kingdom by 2030. U.S. firms are already jumping to comply with this mandate by setting up subsidiaries in Saudi Arabia and signing off on the assembly of U.S.-supplied weapons there.

    ..The Khashoggi case merely underscores the approach of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power behind the thrown in Riyadh who is the most ruthless and reckless leader in Saudi history. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), one of a growing list of congressional critics of the regime, has asserted that the actions of the Saudi/UAE coalition in Yemen “look like war crimes.” And the impacts go well beyond the indiscriminate air strikes that have targeted hospitals, civilian market places, funerals, a wedding, and most recently a school bus carrying 40 children. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also spearheading a partial blockade that has made it extremely difficult to get urgently need humanitarian assistance to Yemenis who desperately need it, putting millions of people on the brink of starvation. And their bombings of water treatment plants and other civilian infrastructure are responsible for the most serious outbreak of cholera in recent memory, a totally preventable consequence of the war.

    Local news stations are repeating this figure without question:

    the $110 billion arms “deal” he has made with Riyadh would be in jeopardy. But as the fact checker for The Washington Post has pointed out, the idea that there ever was a $110 billion arms deal is “fake news.”…Saudi Arabia has signed commitments for about $14.5 billion in U.S. weaponry


    • Raven Eye says:

      One of Trump’s many worrisome behavioral trends is that he is so willing to save the jobs of a few, regardless of the cost to other sectors, or to long-term national security.

      [Oops.  I used “Trump” and “long-term” in the same sentence.]

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump promises to get to the bottom of the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi by agents of the Saudi government.  Just like he got to the bottom of the investigation of Brett Kavanaugh.

    A strong denial.  A firm denial. From the Saudi king.  For this president, attitude takes the place of facts.

    As if the Saudi King would tell Don Trump – a guy famous for shooting his mouth off – about his government murdering an irritating critic inside one of his own embassies.  As if a ruler indulges in such things without plausible deniability.  As if “rogue agents” operate freely inside a government’s own embassies.  As if….

    Oh, and the Don needs to call his tailor. The seat on his khaki pants is no longer ample enough.

    • Trip says:

      Funny that. The Central Park Five made denials and were also cleared by DNA, but it’s almost as if Donald Trump qualifies who gets to pass the strong denial test. Hmm.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Rogue killers.  That’s the president of the United States offering a focus-grouped cover story to his good friend, the authoritarian ruler of ultra-conservative religious state, Saudi Arabia.  The one engaged in genocide in Yemen.  Just doing a friend a good turn.

      Reporting, however, has it that the fifteen-person team the Turks claimed was involved were all Saudi state employees.

      One of them was a forensics expert – Saudi Arabia’s Winston Wolfe.  Odds are the  Cleaner won’t have left too many clues about what his team did to whom and when.

      • Trip says:

        How is it that if there had been rogue killers infiltrating the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, that the Saudis weren’t the first at demanding to know who entered and committed this heinous crime, and for HOURS? How do rogue killers take over a Consulate, torture, murder and chop up body parts, without any worker in the Consulate knowing something is wrong? And why would they wait for Turkey to report it? Trump issues excuses like a child who believes in magic.

        Did you watch 60 Minutes, @ earl? I did not. I didn’t watch his (twin) wife’s interview either. I just read after the fact. I can’t stand either.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I saw only snippets of the Lesley Stahl interview with the Don. I find it darkly humorous that the Don has to keep reminding himself that he’s president – and that Lesley and we are not. 

          In a few years time, that will be the worry of his caretakers at Happy Dale, where he’ll be the only Trump among the Napoleons and Teddy Roosevelts.

      • bmaz says:

        No. Plenty of plastic sheeting and biodegradable cleaner was used. The “CSI Trace Evidence” left with Khashoggi in the multiple sealed body bags. That is why you have a 15 member strong cleaner crew.

        • Trip says:

          Yep. I met a guy who did unattended death clean-up. Serious enzymatic cleaners are used, they literally digest fats, proteins, etc. It’s not the stuff they sell in pet stores which seem to be mostly odor concealers.

          • Flatulus says:

            Wow, the reply is working again. Where would one obtain some of those serious enzymatic cleaners?

            Just asking for a friend.

            • Trip says:

              I wish I knew (pet-wise, not murder-wise). Janitorial supply places sell some stronger enzymatics for (hotel, etc) public restrooms in concentrate, also for fats (in restaurants) but usually in bulk. I’m not even sure if it is the same product used, though.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Try your friendly CYA store.  Head offices in Langley, with branches in a neighborhood near you.  I suspect that industrial grade – but leave no trace – products are available by subscription.

            The Turks, though, claim they have access to the recordings made by Khashoggi’s phone, which synched real time with his laptop or other cell phone and were then to the cloud.  Snuff audio.  A different kind of cleaner would be needed to deal with those.

            • Trip says:

              I think the Khasoggi phone/watch narrative might be a ruse to divert attention from internal intelligence inside the Consulate. But who knows?

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Parallel sourcing.  Fair enough.

                If the recordings exist, then intel services in the US, UK, Israel, Russia, etc., know what happened to Khashoggi and when.  Contrary statements would be lies.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It helps if there’s a high school basement around, with a furnace in full fury.  Like the one in Grosse Pointe Blank.

          Black humor aside, I think the issue is that the president of the United States’ words give permission to act out violently against one’s perceived enemies – to paraphrase the oath of office, whether foreign or domestic – and that there need be no limits when protecting what the speaker’s propaganda describes as an existential threat.

          The Khashoggi murder, if that’s what it was, is not an isolated circumstance.  It is a lit fuse.

          • Trip says:

            @earl, what is your opinion on the rumor about Kushner handing over intelligence? I realize it was started by the Daily Fail, but why would they do that, since they are right-leaning? I know they make up sensational shit, but usually it’s directed at liberals, if political.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              No idea.  But the behavior of Kushner and Trump suggests they would exchange any data they had access to with the Saudis, Russians, or anyone else, if they thought it could reduce their personal liability or improve their profits.

              Kushner, in particular, was in the tank over that heavily mortgaged building on 666 Fifth Avenue.  He was desperately seeking funding in the ME, which would have made him a supplicant.

              He would have found that position hard to improve.  It would effect all his later dealings, including the most recent.

              • Trip says:

                The Kushners (father included) have appreciated ratfucking as a means to an end. Everyone knows his father’s dirty dealings, but here’s Kushner on Bridgegate:

                Jared Kushner Told Christie Ally Behind Bridgegate That Scheme Was ‘Badass’
                Jared Kushner expressed condolences to former Port Authority official David Wildstein, who had just resigned from his job as questions emerged about his role in orchestrating four days of gridlock on the George Washington Bridge.“Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and wishing the best. For what it’s worth, I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass,” Kushner wrote Wildstein…

                From the above, we can see no lessons learned from Charles’ incarceration.

  6. Some Guy in Maine says:

    This appears to be an attempt to provide ‘official corroborating’ documention to lump the smears directed at Bruce Ohr and Sussmann in turn smear each other. Plus the Steele smears too.

    Interesting the wording of the Johnson letter tries to imply Steele was providing salacious dossier info, but stops far short of actually saying that. Likely expecting that detail will be lost in any headline writing or summary.

    While Johnson cites his statutory authorities there is no direct line to anything those seem to cover.

    Very odd and very partisan.  It will be interesting when/if Ohr starts talking publically.1

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The New Trump Portrait!

    It’s not a portrait of the Don playing poker with the other dogs or with the Gotti gang.  It is of the Don sharing a jocular story and drink round a table with about eight other Republican presidents – painted in the format of dogs playing poker.

    Nominally, the center of attention is Abe Lincoln, sitting with his back to the artist.  But Reagan and Tricky Dick are sharing a laugh, TR is his avuncular self, Gerald is holding up a pillar, GHW is standoffish, but Shrub is enjoying sitting next to Abe.

    The Don alone stares off-canvas at the artist, while everyone else is looking inside the frame.  The Don also stands out, owing to his brilliant white shirt and red tie, and because of his handling of his non-drink – a large, throbbing, full Pilsener-like shape formed by his armpit – in the manner of a self-pleasing act.  Which is exactly what this is.  The only thing missing is that it’s not paint-by-number on velvet.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yea, sorry we killed you Jamal.  We only meant to torture you.  That bone saw?  You’ll never believe it, but Muhammad here was visiting the Messermeister factory and was just bringing home a set for his mom in Riyadh.

    Just by chance, good buddy, our best forensics expert stopped by the embassy before returning home from vacation.  He offered to help clean up.  Good deal.  As we promised, the bits and bobs went out the plane over the desert, just like you asked.  Blood and soil, you know.

  9. Rusharuse says:

    Poor old Shoggi he met with a saw/pieces of Shoggi all over the floor/all the Shieks courtiers and Trumpy’s fine men/just couldn’t put poor Shoggi together again


  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    So much for Charlie Brown’s Chuck Schumer’s deal with his Republican counterpart over 15 judicial nominees, supposedly allowing the full Senate could go into recess.

    According to DiFi, Chuck Grassley scheduled hearings during the recess – another unprecedented move – so that Dems opposing the nominees don’t show up and so that they receive less coverage.

    Charlie Brown Schumer, the Senator for Banksters.com, is as useless at kicking the football as his namesake.  His team pays the price.  He should step down.

    The Dem Senators on the SJC should stick around for the hearings, but some of them are up for re-election – including DiFi – and need to be back in their home states to campaign. Never bring a squirt gun to a knife fight, Chuck.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How badly did the Saudi King piss on Donald Trump by not giving him a heads up that his government was about to completely change its story about its murder of Jamal Khashoggi?  Or did Trump volunteer to step in front of that bus by giving the King his own focus-grouped out by suggesting – improbably – that “rogue killers” were responsible.

    Rogue killers inside the Saudi embassy, running amok for hours, killing a reporter, a Saudi national, with international status, then cutting him up and removing the bits from the embassy inside the Gucci luggage?  A more likely scenario is that Donald Trump will nominate the general counsels of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood for his next two Supreme Court picks.

    • Trip says:

      How badly did the Saudi King piss on Donald Trump

      I was under the impression that he liked that sort of thing.

  12. Skilly says:

    Just curious, but how do they know there was a bone saw? If they know that, what other items did they bring with them? Did the Saudi’s declare them when they entered? I have to seek some guidance as I am curious about the process used when entering a country on diplomatic passports. Do they need to identify themselves at the airport? Surely, they can not just exit the plane and walk to the vans that drive them away? Are Turkish records kept of who is claimed is coming in? Do they use metal detectors? weapons check? Photos of the people getting off the plane? It seems like Turkey would have much more info than they have released to date. I would welcome a tutorial from one of the well versed readers about the Process of such an entry into the country. I would wonder if there is an international standard of some kind? I read something about a 1961 treaty?

    • Skilly says:

      Fn: I did see an article on CNN stating the ID of 15 suspected persons possible involved with the murder. It stated the the Turkish press had published names and pictures of 15 persons, and identified at least two, one as a security person with close contacts with the prince and the other a forensic/autopsy specialist. So, that only answers one small bit of my question.

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