The Methodology of Andrew DeFilippis’ Elaborate Plot to Break Judge Cooper’s Rules

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When Michael Sussmann attorney Sean Berkowitz was walking FBI Agent Scott Hellman through the six meetings he had with Durham’s team on Tuesday — meetings he first had as a witness about the investigation into the Alfa Bank allegations and later in preparation for his trial testimony — Berkowitz asked Hellman about how, sometime earlier this year, Andrew DeFilippis and Jonathan Algor asked him whether he could serve as their DNS expert for the trial.

Q And then, more recently, you met with Mr. DeFilippis and I think Johnny Algor, who is also at the table here, who’s an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Correct?

A. Yes.

Q. They wanted to talk to you about whether you might be able to act as an expert in this case about DNS data?

A. Correct.

To Hellman’s credit, he told Durham’s prosecutors — who have been investigating matters pertaining to DNS data for two years — that he only had superficial knowledge of DNS and so wasn’t qualified to be their expert.

Q. You said, while you had some superficial knowledge, you didn’t necessarily feel qualified to be an expert in this case, correct, on DNS data?

A. On DNS data, that’s correct.

It wasn’t until the third day of trial before Durham’s team presented any evidence about the alleged crime. Instead, Durham’s first two witnesses were their nominal expert, David Martin, and Hellman, who told Durham he wasn’t an expert but who offered opinions he neither had the expertise to offer nor had done the work to substantiate.

That’s important, because DeFilippis used him to provide an opinion only an expert should give. And virtually everything about his testimony — his claim to have relied on the data in the materials without looking at the thumb drives, an apparently made up claim about the timing of the analysis, and behaviors that the FBI normally finds suspicious — suggest he’s not only not a DNS expert qualified to assess this report, but his assessment of the white paper Sussmann shared also suffers from serious credibility issues.

The battle over an expert

The testimony of the nominal expert, David Martin, was remarkably nondescript, particularly given the fight that led up to his testimony. Durham’s team sprung even having an expert on Sussmann at a really late date: on March 30, after months of blowing off Sussmann’s inquiries if they would. Not only did they want Martin to explain to the jury what DNS and Tor are, Durham’s team explained, but they also wanted him to weigh in on the validity of conclusions drawn by researchers who had found the anomaly.

  • the authenticity vel non of the purported data supporting the allegations provided to the FBI and Agency-2;
  • the possibility that such purported data was fabricated, altered, manipulated, spoofed, or intentionally generated for the purpose of creating the false appearance of communications;
  • whether the DNS data that the defendant provided to the FBI and Agency-2 supports the conclusion that a secret communications channel existed between and/or among the Trump Organization, Alfa Bank, and/or Spectrum Health;


  • the validity and plausibility of the other assertions and conclusions set forth in the various white papers that the defendant provided to the FBI and Agency-2;

As Sussmann noted in his motion to limit Martin’s testimony, he didn’t mind the testimony about DNS and Tor. He just didn’t want this trial to be about the accuracy of the data, especially without the lead time to prepare his own expert.

As the Government has already disclosed to the defense, should the defense attempt to elicit testimony surrounding the accuracy and/or reliability of the data that the defendant provided to the FBI and Agency-2, Special Agent Martin would explain the following:

  • That while he cannot determine with certainty whether the data at issue was cherry-picked, manipulated, spoofed or authentic, the data was necessarily incomplete because it was a subset of all global DNS data;
  • That the purported data provided by the defendant nevertheless did not support the conclusions set forth in the primary white paper which the defendant provided to the FBI;
  • That numerous statements in the white paper were inaccurate and/or overstated; and
  • That individuals familiar with these relevant subject areas, such as DNS data and TOR, would know that such statements lacked support and were inaccurate and/or overstated.

Based off repeated assurances from Durham that they weren’t going to make accuracy an issue in their case in chief, Judge Cooper ruled that the government could only get into accuracy questions if Sussmann tried to raise the accuracy of the data himself. But if he said he relied on the assurances of Rodney Joffe, it wouldn’t come in.

The government suggests that Special Agent Martin’s testimony may go further, depending on what theories Sussmann pursues in cross-examination or his defense case. Consistent with its findings above, the Court will allow the government’s expert to testify about the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the specific data provided to the FBI here only in certain limited circumstances. In particular, if Sussmann seeks to establish at trial that the data were accurate, and that there was in fact a communications channel between Alfa Bank and the Trump Campaign, expert testimony explaining why this could not be the case will become relevant. But, as the Court noted above, additional testimony about the accuracy of the data—expert or otherwise—will not be admissible just because Mr. Sussmann presents evidence that he “relied on Tech Executive-1’s conclusions” about the data, or “lacked a motive to conceal information about his clients.” Gov’s Expert Opp’n at 11. As the Court has already explained, complex, technical explanations about the data are only marginally probative of those defense theories. The Court will not risk confusing the jury and wasting time on a largely irrelevant or tangential issue. See United States v. Libby, 467 F. Supp. 2d 1, 15 (D.D.C. 2006) (excluding evidence under Rule 403 where “any possible minimal probative value that would be derived . . . is far outweighed by the waste of time and diversion of the jury’s attention away from the actual issues”).

Then, days before the trial, the issue came up again. Durham sent a letter on May 6 (ten days before jury selection), raising a bunch of new issues they wanted Martin to raise. Sussmann argued that Durham was trying to expand the scope of what his expert could present. Among his complaints, Sussmann argued that Durham was trying to make a materiality argument via his expert witness.

Third, the Special Counsel apparently intends to offer expert testimony about the materiality of the false statement alleged in this case. Indeed, the Special Counsel’s supplemental topic 9 regarding the importance of considering the collection source of DNS data is plainly being offered to prove materiality. But the Special Counsel did not disclose this topic in either his initial expert disclosure or Opposition, and the Court’s ruling did not permit such testimony. The Special Counsel should not now be allowed to offer an entirely new expert opinion under the guise of eliciting testimony regarding the types of conclusions that can be drawn from a review of DNS data.

Judge Cooper considered the issue Tuesday morning, before opening arguments. When asking why Martin had to present the concept of visibility, DeFilippis explained that Hellman–the Agent who’s not an expert on DNS but whom DeFilippis nevertheless had asked to serve as an expert on DNS–would talk about the import of knowing visibility to assess data.

THE COURT: Well, but isn’t the question here whether a case agent — is your case agent later going to testify that that was something that the FBI looked at or wanted to look at in this case and was unable to do so, and that that negatively affected the FBI’s investigation in some way? MR.

DeFILIPPIS: Yes, and I expect Special Agent Hellman, who will testify likely today, Your Honor, I expect that that is a concept that he will say was relevant to the determination that — determinations he was making as he drafted analysis of the data that came in. And, again, I don’t think we — for example, another way in which this comes up is that the FBI routinely receives DNS data from various private companies who collect that data, and it is always relevant sort of the breadth of visibility that those companies have. So it’s relevant generally, but also in this particular case the fact that the FBI did not have insight into the visibility or lack of visibility of that data certainly affected steps that the FBI took.

THE COURT: Okay. But Mr. Sussman has not been accused of misrepresenting who the source is. He’s simply — but rather who the client is. So how do you link that to the materiality of the alleged false statement?

MR. DeFILIPPIS: Because, Your Honor, I think we view them as intertwined. It was because — it was in part because Mr. Sussman said he didn’t have a client that made it more difficult for the FBI to get to the bottom of the source of this data or made it less likely they would, and so — and, again, I don’t think we expect to dwell for a long time on this, but I think the agents and the technical folks will say that that is part of why the origins of the data are extremely relevant when they took investigative steps here.

When Cooper noted Sussmann’s objection to Martin discussing possible spoofing of data, DeFilippis again answered not about what Martin would testify, but what Hellman would.

As DeFilippis explained, he claimed to believe that under Cooper’s ruling, the government could put in any little thing they wanted that they claimed had been part of the investigation.

And Special Agent Hellman, when he testifies today — now, Your Honor’s ruling we understand to permit us to put into evidence anything about what the FBI analyzed and concluded as its investigation unfolded because that goes to the materiality of the defendant’s statement. So Special Agent Hellman — through Agent Hellman we will offer into evidence a paper he prepared when the data first came in, and among its conclusions is that the data might — he doesn’t use the word “spoof” — but might have been intentionally generated and might have been fabricated. That was the FBI’s initial conclusion in what it wrote up.

So in order for the jury to understand the course of the FBI’s investigation and the conclusions that it drew at each stage, those concepts are at the center of it.


MR. DeFILIPPIS: Okay. Your Honor, I’m sorry. We understood your ruling to be that the FBI’s conclusions as it went along were okay as long as we weren’t asserting the conclusion that it was, in fact, fabricated. You know, I mean, it’s difficult to chart the course of the FBI’s investigation unless we can elicit at each stage what it is that the FBI concluded.

Judge Cooper ordered that references to spoofing be removed — leading to a last minute redaction of an exhibit — but permitted a discussion of visibility to come in.

After all that fight, Martin’s testimony was not only bland, but it was recycled powerpoint. He not only admitted lifting the EFF description of Tor for his PowerPoint, but he included their logo.

Hellman delivers the non-expert expert opinion Durham was prohibited from giving

As I said, Martin was witness number one, Hellmann — the self-described non-expert in DNS — was witness number two.

Even though Hellman admitted, again, that he’s not a DNS expert, DeFilippis still had him go over what DNS is.

Q. How familiar or unfamiliar are you with what is known as DNS or Domain Name System data?

A. I know the basics about DNS.

Q. And in your understanding, on a very basic level, what is DNS?

A. DNS is basically how one computer would try and communicate with another computer.

After getting Hellman to explain how he purportedly got chain of custody signatures on September 20, 2016 for the materials Michael Sussmann dropped off with James Baker on September 19, DeFilippis walked Hellman through how, he claimed, he had concluded that the allegations Sussmann dropped off were unsupported. Hellman reviewed the data accompanying the white paper, Durham’s star cybersecurity witness claimed on the stand, and after reviewing that data, determined there was no allegation of a hack in the materials and therefore nothing for the Cyber Division to look at. And, as a report he wrote “within a day” summarized, he concluded the methodology was horrible.

As you read the following exchange, know that (as I understand it) some, if not most, of what Hellman describes as the methodology is wrong. Obviously, if Hellman’s understanding of the methodology is wrong, then the opinion that DeFilippis elicits from a guy who admitted he was not an expert on DNS but whom DeFilippis nevertheless asked to serve as his expert witness on DNS before inviting David Martin in to present slides lifted from the Electronic Frontier Foundation instead [Takes a breath] … If Hellman’s understanding of the methodology and the data he’s looking at is wrong, then his opinion about the methodology is going to be of little merit.

With that understanding, note the objection of Sean Berkowitz, who fought DeFilippis’ late hour addition of an expert that DeFilippis wanted to use to opine on the validity of the research, bolded below.

So we looked at the top part, which set out your top-line conclusion. You then have a portion of the paper that says, “The investigators who conducted the research appear to have done the following.” Now, Special Agent Hellman, it appears to be a pretty technical discussion, but can you just tell us, in that first part of the paper, what did you set out and what did you conclude?

A. It looks to be that they were looking for domains associated with Trump, and the way that they did that was they looked at a list of sort of all domains and looked for domains that had the word “Trump” in them as a way to narrow down the number of domains they were looking at.

And then they wanted to find, well, which of that initial set of Trump domains, which of them are email servers associated with those domains. And the way they did that was to search for terms associated with email, like “mail” or other email-related terms to then narrow down their list of domains even further to be Trump-associated domains that were email servers.

Q. And did you opine on the soundness of that methodology? In other words, did you express a view as to whether this was a good way to go about this project?

A. We did not — I did not feel that that was the most expeditious way to go about identifying email servers associated with the domain.

Q. And why was that?

A. You can name an email server anything you want. It doesn’t have to have the words “mail” or “SMTP” in it. And so by — if you’re just searching for those terms, I would wager to guess you would miss an actual email server because there are other — there are other more technical ways that you can use — basically look-up tools, Internet look-up tools where you can say, for any domain, tell me the associated email server. That’s essentially like a registered email server. But the way that they were doing it was they were just looking for key terms, and I think that it just didn’t make sense to me why they would go about identifying email servers that way as opposed to just being able to look them up.

Q. Was there anything else about the methodology used here by the writer or writers of this paper that you found questionable or that you didn’t agree with?

A. I think just the overall assumptions that were being made about that the server itself was actually communicating at all. That was probably one of the biggest ones.

Q. And what, if anything, did you conclude about whether you believed the authors of the paper or author of the paper was fairly and neutrally conducting an analysis? Did you have an opinion either way?

MR. BERKOWITZ: Objection, Your Honor.


MR. BERKOWITZ: Objection on foundation. He asked him his opinion. He’s not qualified as an expert for that.

THE COURT: I’ll overrule it.

A. Sorry, can you please repeat the question?

Q. Sure. Did you draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the authors of this paper seemed to be applying a sound methodology or whether, to the contrary, they were trying to reach a particular result? Did you —

A. Based upon the conclusions they drew and the assumptions that they made, I did not feel like they were objective in the conclusions that they came to.

Q. And any particular reasons or support for that?

A. Just the assumption you would have to make was so far reaching, it didn’t — it just didn’t make any sense.

That’s how, as his second witness, Andrew DeFilippis introduced the opinion of a guy who admitted he wasn’t an expert on DNS that DeFilippis had asked to serve as an expert even though DeFilippis should have known that he didn’t have the expertise to offer expert opinions like this.

If Sussmann is found guilty, I would bet a great deal of money this stunt will be one part of a several pronged appeal, because Judge Cooper permitted DeFilippis to do precisely what Cooper had prohibited him from doing before trial, and he let him do it with a guy who by his own admission is not a DNS expert.

Cyber Division reaches a conclusion without looking at the thumb drives

Now let’s look at what Hellman describes his own methodology to be.

First, it was quick. DeFilippis seems to think that serves his narrative, as if this stuff was so crappy that it took a mere glimpse to discredit it.

Q. Special Agent Hellman, how long would you say it took you and Special Agent Batty to write this up?

A. Inside of a day.

Q. Inside of a day, you said?

Berkowitz walked Hellman through the timeline of it, and boy was it quick. There’s some uncertainty about this timeline, because John Durham’s office doesn’t feel the need to make clear whether exhibits they’re turning over in discovery reflect UTC or ET. But I think I’ve laid it out below (Berkowitz got it wrong in cross-examination, which DeFilippis used to attack his analysis).

As you can see, not only were FBI’s crack cybersecurity agents making a final conclusion about the data within a day but — by all appearances — they did so before they had ever looked at the thumb drives included with the white papers. From the record, it’s actually not clear when — if!!! — they looked at the thumb drives. But it’s certain they had their analysis finalized no more than one working day after they admitted they hadn’t looked at the thumb drive, which was itself after they had already decided the white paper was shit.


September 20, 10:20AM: Nate Batty tells Jordan Kelly they’ll come from Chantilly to DC get the thumb drives

September 20, 10:31AM: Jordan Kelly tells Batty the chain of custody is “Sussman to Strzock to Sporre”

September 20, 12:29PM: Hellman and Nate Batty accept custody of the thumb drives

September 20, 1:30PM: Hour drive back to Chantilly, VA

September 20, 4:44PM: Hellman appears to explain the process of picking up the thumb drives to jrsmith, claiming to have spoken to Baker on the phone. jrsmith jokes about “doctor[ing] a chain of evidence form.”

September 20, 4:58: Hellman says the more he reads the report “it feels a little 5150ish,” suggesting (as he explained to Berkowitz on cross) the authors suffered from a mental disability, and Hellman complains that “it contains an absurd quantity of data” to which Batty responded, the data seemed “inserted to overwhelm and confuse the reader.”

September 21, 8:47AM: Batty tells Hellman their supervisor wants them to “write a brief summary of what we think about the DNC report.” Batty continues by suggesting that “we should at least plug the thumb drives into Frank’s computer and look at the files…”

9/22, 9:44AM: Curtis Heide, in Chicago, asks Batty to send the contents of the thumb drive so counterintelligence agents can begin to look at the evidence. The boys in Cyber struggle to do so for a bit.

9/22, 2:49PM: Batty asks Hellman what he did with the blue thumb drive.

9/22, 4:46PM: Batty sends “analysis of Trump white paper” to others.

In other words, the cyber division spent less than 28 hours doing this analysis.

Yes. The analysis was quick.

Hellman says his analysis is valid because he looked at the data

The hastiness of the analysis and the fact that Hellman didn’t look at the thumb drive before making initial conclusions about the research is fairly problematic, because when he discussed his own methodology, he described the data driving everything.

Q. Now, what principally, from the materials, did you rely on to do your analysis?

A. So it was really two things. It was looking at the data, the technical data itself. There was a summary that it came with. And then also we were comparing what we saw in the data, sort of the story that the data told us, and then looking at the narrative that it came with and comparing our assessment of the data to the narrative.


Q. And in connection with that analysis, did you also take a look at the data itself that was underlying this paper?

A. Yes


Q. And if we look at that first page there, Agent Hellman, what kind of data is this?

A. It appears to be — as far as I can tell, it looks to be — it’s log data. So it’s a log that shows a date and a time, a domain, and an IP address. And, I mean, that’s — just looking at this log, there’s not too much more from that.

Q. And do you understand this to be at least a part of the DNS data that was contained on the thumb drives that I think you testified about earlier?

A. Yes.


A. It would have mattered — well, I think on one hand it would not have mattered from the technical standpoint. If I’m looking at technical data, the data’s going to tell me whatever story the data’s going to tell me independent of where it comes from. So I still would have done the same technical analysis.

But knowing where the data comes from helps to tell me — it gives me context regarding how much I believe in the data, how authentic it is, do I believe it’s real, and do I trust it. [my emphasis]

He repeated this claim on cross with Berkowitz.

I just disagreed with the conclusions they came to and the analysis that they did based upon the data that came along with the white paper.

When Berkowitz asked him why counterintelligence opened an investigation when Cyber didn’t, Hellman suggested that the people in CD wouldn’t understand how to read the technical logs.

A. Um, I think they’d probably be looking at it from the same vantage point, but if you’re not — you don’t have experience looking at technical logs, you may not have the capability of doing a review of those logs. You might rely on somebody else to do it. And perhaps counterintelligence agents are going to be thinking about other investigative questions. So I guess it would probably be a combination of both.

“If I’m looking at technical data,” DeFilippis’ star cybersecurity agent explained, “the data’s going to tell me whatever story the data’s going to tell me.”

Except he didn’t look at the technical data, at least not the data on the thumb drives, before he reached his initial conclusion.

Hellman makes a claim unsupported by the data in his own analysis

I’ll leave it to people more expert than me to rip apart Hellman’s own analysis of the white paper Sussmann shared with the FBI. In early consultations, I’ve been told he misunderstood the methodology, misunderstood how researchers used Trump’s other domains to prove that just one had this anomaly (that is, as a way to test their hypothesis), and misstated the necessity of some long-term feedback loop for this anomaly to be sustained. Again, the experts will eventually explain the problems.

One part of his report that I know damns his methodology, however, is where he says the researchers,

Searched “…global nonpublic DNS activity…” (unclear how this was done) and discovered there are (4) primary IP addresses that have resolved to the name “”. Two of these belong to DNS servers at Russian Alfa Bank. [my emphasis]

This is the point where every single person I know who assessed these allegations who is at least marginally expert on DNS issues stopped and said, “global nonpublic DNS activity? There are only a handful of people that could be!” See, for example, this Robert Graham post written in response to the original Slate story, perhaps the most influential critique of the allegations, probably even on Durham. Every marginally expert person I know has, upon reading something like that, tried to figure out who would have that kind of visibility on the data, because that kind of visibility, by itself, would speak to their expertise. Those marginally expert people did not have the means to identify the possible sources of the data. But a lot of them — including the NYTimes!! — were able to find people who had that kind of visibility to better understand the anomaly. When Hellman read that, he simply said, “unclear how this was done” and moved on.

Still, Hellman did not contest (or possibly even test) the analysis that said there were really just four IP addresses conducting look-ups with the Trump marketing server. Dozens of people have continued to test that result in the years since, and while there have been adjustments to the general result, no one has disproven that the anomaly was strongest between Alfa Bank and Trump’s marketing domain.

Where Hellman’s insta-analysis really goes off the rails, however, is in his assertion that, “it appears that the presumed suspicious activity began approximately three weeks prior to the stated start date of the investigation conducted by the researcher.”

I’m not a DNS expert, but I’m pretty good at timelines, and by my read here are the key dates in the white paper.

May 4, 2016: Beginning date for look-up analysis

July 28, 2016: Lookup for hostnames yielding Trump

September 4, 2016: End date for look-up analysis

September 14, 2016: Updated search for look-ups covering June 17 through September 14

The start date reflected in this white paper is July 28, 2016. Three weeks before that would be July 7, 2016, a date that doesn’t appear in the white paper. The anomaly started 85 days before the start date reflected in this white paper (and the start date for the research began months earlier, but still over three weeks after the May 4 start date).

I don’t understand where he got that claim. But DeFilippis repeated it on the stand, as if it were reflected in the data, I guess believing it makes his star cybersecurity agent look good.

DeFilippis’ star cybersecurity agent has some credibility problems

There are a few more problems with the credibility of Hellman, DeFilippis’ star cybersecurity agent who is not a DNS expert. One of those is that he compared notes with his boss before first testifying.

Q: And you also spoke with Nate Batty around that time, Right?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you talk to him before the first interview to kind of get ready for it?

A: I think so, but I don’t remember.

Q: Is that something that you encourage witnesses to do, to talk to other witnesses to see if your recollections are consistent?

A: No.

In addition, notwithstanding that Batty was told that Sussmann was in the chain of control, Batty claimed to believe the source was “anonymous” and Hellmann claimed to believe it was sensitive–a human source. Even after comparing notes their stories didn’t match.

There are other problems with Hellman’s memory of the events, notably that in his first interview — the one he did shortly after comparing notes with Batty — he claimed that Baker had told him he was unable to identify the source of the data.

Q. And when you went to Mr. Baker’s office, do you remember what, if anything, was said during that discussion or during that interaction?

A. I remember being in the office, but I don’t distinctly recall what the conversation was. I do remember after the fact, though, that I was frustrated that I was not able to identify who had provided these thumb drives, this information to Mr. Baker. He was not willing to tell me.

At the very least, this presents a conflict with Baker’s testimony, but it’s also another testament to how variable memories can be four years, much less six years, after the fact.

Hellman also claimed, when asked on cross, that the first time he had ever seen the reference to a “DNC report” in September 21 Lync notes he received was two years ago, when he was first interviewed.

A: The first time I saw this was two years ago when I was being interviewed by Mr. DeFilippis, and I don’t recall ever seeing it. I never had any recollection of this information coming from DNC. I don’t remember DNC being a part of anything we read or discussed.

Q: Okay. When you say, the first time you saw it was two years ago when you met with Mr. DeFilippis, that’s not accurate. Right? You saw it on September 21st, 2016. Correct?

A: It’s in there. I don’t have any memory of seeing it.

And when Sean Berkowitz asked about Hellman the significance of seeing the reference to a “DNC report” first thing on September 21, he described that DeFilippis suggested to him that it was likely just a typo for DNS.

Q. What’s your explanation for it?

A. I have no recollection of seeing that link message. And there is — I have absolutely no belief that either me or Agent Batty knew where that data was coming from, let alone that it was coming from DNC. The only explanation that popped or was discussed was that it could have been a typo and somebody was trying to refer to DNS instead of DNC.

Q. So you think it was a typo?

A. I don’t know.

Q. When you said the only one suggesting it — isn’t it true that it was Mr. DeFilippis that suggested to you that it might have been a typo recently?

A. That’s correct.

When asked about a topic for which there was documentary evidence Hellman had seen in real time that he claimed not to remember, Andrew DeFilippis offered up an explanation that Hellman then offered on the stand.

On the stand, DeFilippis also tried to get Hellman to call a marketing server a spam server, though Hellman resisted.

Once you look closely, I don’t think Hellman’s testimony helps Durham all that much. What it proves, however, is that DeFilippis attempted to coach testimony.

One final thing. DeFilippis got his star cybersecurity agent to observe that the researchers didn’t include their name or other markers on their report, as if that’s a measure of unreliablity.

Q. Now, let me ask you, were you able to determine from any of these materials who had actually drafted the paper alleging the secret channel?

A. No.

Q. In other words, was it contained anywhere in the documents?

Here’s what Hellman’s own report looks like:

There’s a unit — ECOU1 — but the names of the individual agents appear nowhere in the report. The report is not dated. It does not specifically identify the white papers and thumb drives by control numbers, something key to evidentiary analysis.

It has none of the markers of regularity you’d expect from the FBI. Hellman’s own analysis doesn’t meet the standards that DeFilippis uses to measure reliability.

This long-time Grand Rapids resident is furious that Hellman judged there was no hack

Everything above I write as a journalist who has tried to understand this story for almost six years. Between that and 18 years of covering national security cases, I hope I now have sufficient familiarity with it to know there are real problems with Hellman’s analysis.

But let me speak as someone who lived in Grand Rapids for most of this period, and had friends who had to deal with the aftermath of Spectrum Health appearing at the center of a politically contentious story.

Hellman had, as he testified, two jobs. First, he was supposed to determine whether there were any cyber equities, then he was supposed to do some insta-analysis of the data without first looking at the thumb drives.

According to Hellman, there was no hack.

I was asked to perform two tasks in tandem with Special Agent Batty, and our tasks were, number one, to look at this data, look at the data and look at the narrative that it came with and identify were there any what’s known as cyber equities. And by that it was, was there any allegation of a hacking. That’s what cyber division does. We investigate hacking. So was there an allegation that somebody or some company or some computer had been hacked. That was first.


As I mentioned, the first piece was we had to identify was there any real allegation of hacking; and there was not. That was our first task by our supervisor. There was not.


The allegation was that someone purported to find a secret communication channel between the Trump organization and Russia. And so we identified first that, no, we didn’t think that there was any cyber equity, meaning that there was probably nothing more for cyber to investigate further, if there was no hacking crime.

Except here’s what the white paper says about Spectrum, that Grand Rapids business that was swept up in this story.

The Spectrum Health IP address is a TOR exit node used exclusively by Alfa Bank. ie.,  Alfa Bank communications enter a Tor node somewhere in the world and those communications exit, presumably untraceable, at Spectrum Health There is absolutely no reason why Spectrum would want a Tor exit node on its system. (Indeed, Spectrum Health would not want a TOR node on its system because, by its nature, you never know what will come out of a TOR node, including child pornography and other legal content.)

We discovered that Spectrum Health is the victim of a network intrusion. Therefore, Spectrum Health may not know it has a TOR exit node on its network. Alternatively, the DeVos family may have people at Spectrum who know there is a TOR node. i.e.,  could have been placed there with inside help.

When faced with some anomalous activity that seemed to tie into the weird DNS traffic, the experts suggested that maybe the Spectrum hack related to the DNS anomaly.

To be clear, this Tor allegation is the the weakest part of this white paper. You will hear about this to no end over the next week. It was technically wrong.

But the allegation in the white paper is that maybe a recent hack of Spectrum Health is why it had this anomalous traffic with Trump’s marketing server. There’s your hack!!

Had the people at FBI’s cybersecurity side actually treated this as a possible compromise, it might have addressed the part of this story that never made any sense. And we might not, now, six years later, be arguing about what might explain it.

Let me be clear: I do think the white paper overstated its conclusions. I don’t think secret communication is the most obvious explanation here.

But there are hacks and then there are hacks in the testimony of DeFilippis’ star cybersecurity agent.

Update: Corrected an attribution to Batty instead of Hellman.

Update: Fixed my own timeline.

Update: Added link to Robert Graham’s analysis.

Update: This may be where Hellman gets his erroneous three week claim. There were two histograms included with the report. One, the close-up, does start around July 7.

But the broader scope shows look-ups earlier, very actively in June, but with a few stray ones in May.

The government didn’t include the pages and pages of logs that Batty complained about in this exhibit. Had they, it would be clear to jurors that this claim is false.

Update: Correction on two points. First, I think I’ve finally got the Lync exchange above correct between Batty and Hellman. As noted, Hellman complains that “it contains an absurd quantity of data” to which Batty responded, the data seemed “inserted to overwhelm and confuse the reader.”

Second, I was wading through exhibits this morning and found the exhibit of 19 pages of logs. Here’s just a subset of them, including logs that go back to May 2016. Hellman didn’t look even at the printed page of log files closely enough to realize his claim about three weeks was wrong. These data weren’t intended to overwhelm the reader. They were there to show how the anomaly accelerated during the election.

101 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    One hopes that Judge Cooper would get tired of DeFilippis stepping over the ordered lines but I have less faith now that Berkowitz objected on precisely those grounds and was overruled. One hopes it’s explained in a sidebar later (probably after another objection or two) because we will see more of this.

    As for the DNS expert, what is stopping Sussmann from getting one now? After all, DeF did make reliability a topic of his case and so Sussmann could ask for an expert to provide an informed rebuttal. FWIW I would be surprised given how thorough the defense has been to this point that there isn’t at least a short list ready to go.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    My impression is that Hellman is working hard to give DeF the testimony he wants to hear, rather than what he knows, which seems to be little. Unimpressive for a guy supposedly working for the FBI’s cyber security division. He also seems to have a virulent case of confirmation bias, which might be circulating among his workmates.

    Knowing the limits of a data set versus what conclusions can reasonably be drawn from it should also be something Hellman is more familiar with. Nor does he seem to understand the distinction between having evidence sufficient to suspect that there might be a hack and having proof there was a hack. That would be like not being able to tell the difference between having probable cause and having proof of a fact.

    • jhinx says:

      Yes. It’s almost like Hellman is not quite up for the job. I know this is cynical, but could it be Hellman is influenced by a couple of good nights at a five star hotel and some fine dining?

  3. Mike Stone says:

    I am not surprised by the competency of the FBI cyber expert. We had a network break-in a few years ago in our research organization in VA. A few FBI cyber people came out and interviewed some of our staff. It was not impressive. One network engineer working for us was able to do a trace on the hack while the FBI guys were at our offices and found an address somewhere in the US. He gave it to the FBI guys and we never heard anything after that. However, they did try to hire the network engineer. He asked want they paid, they told him a range and he laughed. Quality network people get get very good salaries in the DC area.

  4. noromo says:

    “A. DNS is basically how one computer would try and communicate with another computer.”

    JFC, not even close. I’d think the witness could be impeached just by that statement alone.

    DNS is the internet’s phone book.

    EVERY device on the intertubes is ID’d by a number, either an IP address or MAC address. But numbers are hard to remember, so the Domain Naming System was developed to associate easy-to-remember names to the numbers (, e.g., has six [6] IP addresses). How I actually communicate with another device depends on what services are available there, and what protocol we use to effect that comm. (http for emptywheel). But, if I know the number — — i don’t need DNS at all.

    P.S. I see that cloudfare does block direct IP access to emptywheel. That’s just good security.

    • Rayne says:

      Thank you for that. It’s relatively simple to understand and yet the technical aspect combined with the average American’s technology ignorance allows the concept to be distorted to serve an agenda. Weaponized, even.

      • What Constitution? says:

        There’s the rub — Durham and his team seem intent upon creating what Dr. EW graciously has called “word salad”, but which many others may call “copious bullshit” — not the first time for such a “lawyer’s strategy” when presenting dubious claims to a jury. Rayne’s observation here reminds me of this “summation” when the boy newsboys of Anchorman articulate their objections to a girl on air; Steve Carrell’s character cuts to the chase here:

        Here’s hoping that these diversionary and improper tactics are met by the polished demolition before the jury that they so richly deserve.

        It’s actually more telling that Durham and his minions are taking such a low road, in the apparent hope that they can accuse the defense of “nit picking” by taking the time to explain the obvious chicanery at work with things like time zones and similarly distorting evasions of evidentiary rulings. Lowbrow lawyering from this “DOJ ‘team'” here. Here’s hoping the defense team is reading Marcy, in case they might have missed some of what’s going on.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      When Wikipedia has a better summary than your expert…

      “These are most commonly used to map human-friendly domain names to the numerical IP addresses computers need to locate services and devices using the underlying network protocols, but have been extended over time to perform many other functions as well.”

    • P J Evans says:

      Jeebus, *I* know what DNS is. And I don’t claim to be an expert on much of anything.

    • Riktol says:

      I just want to clarify that MAC addresses are not part of DNS.
      DNS looks up an IP address for a website, the analogy is looking up a person’s phone number from their name, by looking in a phone book.
      The MAC address is only used for routing traffic within your local network, I’d liken it to an internal phone extension. Your building phone system knows to route 222 to a particular phone (say Dave from Marketing), but outside the building dialling that number won’t get you anywhere, you need to dial the main number and get transferred through, or dial a number that is set up to route directly to Dave’s phone.

  5. greenbird says:

    i would like some help posting a reply in a different emptywheel post.
    to whom and where do i seek assistance ?

    [Please reply to your own comment here with a link to the post you wish to comment on, thanks. Some threads are now closed to comments, though, based on age and how many open threads already exist. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Received your email, will try to attach your reply to Artemis’ comment. That thread is still open, though; I don’t have a clue why you’re unable to post a new comment.

      I suggest clearing your browser’s cache to see if that makes a difference.

  6. Dopey-o says:

    Excuse me for being an idiot, but this is the first time that i have seen TOR referenced. Spectrum Health hosting a TOR node is extremely questionable. If i found one running on our systems, i would rip it out and fire whoever installed it.

    If Alfa Bank used TOR, they had TOR installed on their system in Russia. Which indicates some kind of coordination between Alfa and Spectrum. TOR nodes don’t just pop up like toadstools after the rain.

  7. JMC says:

    I am confused about your timeline. Shouldn’t the first two items, 9/20 at 10:20 PM and 10:31 PM, come after the third through 6th items starting at 9/20 at 12:29 PM? Or are the dates wrong? Also, the 6th item is 4:58 with no AM or PM.

      • JMC says:

        Have I forgotten how to tell time? I thought 12:29 PM Is a little after noon and10:20 PM is like bedtime. I’m a little under the weather, maybe it’s worse than I thought.

        • matt fischer says:

          Correct: “I thought 12:29 PM Is a little after noon and10:20 PM is like bedtime.”

      • MB says:

        Sorry PJ, but I do believe 12 pm is 14 hours after 10 p.m. 12 am is the convention for midnight.

        • Chetnolian says:

          12PM is semantic nonsense “Post meridiem”. But 12 is meridian. 12.01, if you are using a 12 hour clock, is PM.

      • Reader 21 says:

        It’s easier if you flip it around—say you were having a late lunch, meeting a friend a few hours after noon—just think about what time you’d meet up.

    • skua says:

      One possible resolution is that we’re dealing with different timezones and 14:20 is 10:20 AM.
      If so then PM has been used erroneously instead of AM for those first two events.

      • notjonathon says:

        I haven’t been studying this, but perhaps 24 hr. time stamps (i.e., 14:10) vs. am-pm stamps reflect UTC vs. US local times.

  8. bobdevo says:

    We’re told time and again DOJ doesn’t bring indictments unless they’re convinced they can prove criminality beyond a reasonable doubt. As someone who has participated in defending federal cases resulting in Not Guilty verdicts, I can only surmise Durham didn’t get that memo. As far as I can tell, Sussmann said he was providing the information on his own behalf. Seems to me as an American and an officer of the court, he might well have had valid concerns about the prospect of an asset – witting or unwitting – of Vlad Putin taking control of the levers of government, whether or not Clinton or the DNC were clients. In order to prove their case, Durham’s team needs to demonstrate mens rea and the inner workings of Sussmann’s mind. I don’t see a jury buying this load of garbage.

    • bmaz says:

      Agree completely. I have not been able to follow it all as closely as Marcy, but have been wondering how the government was going to establish willful/intent. The defense may have to put Sussman on the stand to close that off though. Good summary, and welcome to Emptywheel, please visit more often.

      Adding postscript, I still do not see materiality either.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      bobdevo, this has been my understanding too, but I often get the impression that it is wishful thinking.

    • JB says:

      Durham appears to be banking on having the jury Inter the mens rea vía a combination of demonstrating that this information was learned in the course of representing a client coupled with motive. However there is a distinction between sharing information obtained in the course of representing a client and sharing it on behalf of a client. One example from my own experience was while conducting an internal investigation for a bank client for employee fraud we discovered child pornography on an employee’s laptop. We reported that information to authorities both out of concern and legal obligation. No one would characterize that as being reported on behalf of our bank client. The indictment seems to presuppose that the existence of Sussman’s client relationship on its own renders his representation false. I hope Sussman hammers this distinction in closing because it is nuanced and might not be appreciated by the jurors.

      • Eureka says:

        Sussman should use concrete (hypothetical) (“non-politicized”) examples just like this one to drive home the distinction.

        • Eureka says:

          OTOH I can see potentially unintended consequences from introducing extraneous matter which may come with a valence; maybe it’s not necessary but to say that if you found evidence of a(nother) potential crime while doing other legal work you’d be, or naturally feel, duty-bound to report it. [I was feeling the need for emphasis given the degree of Durham’s gaslighting. Depends on context when the time for such argument comes, I suppose.]

      • John Lehman says:

        Thanks…great to have so many lawyers here making things clear for us “layman”.

  9. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Simply stated, this case is about whether Sussmann made a material lie when he told the FBI he came on his own behalf. Even though he represented clients, it’s plausible he was truthful since he acted contrary to his clients’ interests by helping the FBI kill the NYT story, which he did because, as a former agent with a patriotic backbone, he would not want to see its publication potentially damage an ongoing FBI investigation.

    I have previously commented that if Sussmann did not bill the meeting to a client and if he personally paid for his taxi to the meeting from his own pocket, those should be clinchers. However, I was not aware that the thumb drives he gave the FBI were paid for by the Clinton campaign.

    Question: Does the thumb drives’ procurement lead to a conviction?

    • Purple Martin says:

      Think JB addressed that point effectively, just above: “However there is a distinction between sharing information obtained in the course of representing a client and sharing it on behalf of a client.”

    • JB says:

      I believe the indictment does allege Sussman billed the meeting to the Clinton Campaign. However, I may just be imagining this since I don’t have the transcript but I could have sworn I saw a tweet from someone covering Elias’ testimony saying the Campaign was billed a flat monthly fee that changed over time. If that’s the case, Sussman’s billing entry regarding the meeting would have been immaterial to the Campaign’s bill and just a sloppy way for him to show his fellow partners that he was doing actual work and not sitting on his ass during that time.

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. And isn’t this back to the intent question? Suppose he had just walked out of Hillary’s kitchen, but felt there was a real problem possible? Shouldn’t he take it to the authorities to insure there was not?

        • JB says:

          Yup. I think even if he and Hillary had discussed the problem and jointly agreed that this could constitute a potential national security concern, and even if he had asked Hillary if it was ok to take this information to the FBI and she said yes, that this would not render his doing so an activity done “on behalf of” Hillary. I construe “on behalf of” to mean he was there to advance some interest of Hillary’s (or Joffe’s), which he has been consistently adamant that he was not. Durham can spin all the conspiracy theories he wants as to motive but none of his evidence proves anything beyond the existence of the attorney client relationship. The closest thing he has is Sussman’s unfortunate phrasing in his House testimony that I understood to be him just making clear that he didn’t go rogue and do this without ensuring it wouldn’t violate any duties he owed to his clients.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            This just occurred to me. Did HRC know at the time? If so, did she approve of Sussman going to FBI, instead of the press, which would have been in campaign’s best interest? Could he call her as a witness, or would that still be too provocative even six years later?

            It seems to me there’s an affirmative defense to be argued against the entire Durham conspiracy theory: that Sussman’s actions had the opposite effect of furthering his clients’ interests, and thus in fact undermine the theory of a conspiracy.

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    Yanked Doodle

    With hogwash & gobbledygook
    they’ll confront us about where to look,
    Do they favor Putin’s favored crook
    with all the liberties that they took?

    Twaddle, wheedle, worm & yammer,
    who is here on behalf of grammar?
    Will they never stop their clamor,
    until rule of law hits the slammer?

    Some of the claptrap, kit & caboodle,
    could it rise & fall with a doodle?
    Sticky notes as part of their loot’ll
    try to shift blame to an innocent noodle.

    Hoodwinked by this poppycock
    would be falling for their schlock,
    But haven’t we been around that block
    and now know well that it’s a crock?

  11. Thomas says:

    From the very first time that I read a story “debunking” the Alfa Bank/Trump Tower/DeVos Spectrum story, I didn’t believe that the FBI had debunked it, and I was unsatisfied with “unnamed FBI cybersecurity expert debunked it.”

    It seems to me that in his zeal to frame Hillary Clinton for a crime, Durham has unearthed a story that was buried, and has shone a light on the un-credible analysis that was relied upon to bury it.
    Now there is good reason to revisit this issue, since, there is so much, other evidence that Trump was a Russian asset.
    I’m sure that is NOT the result Durham was looking for.

    But what still nags at me is this: Since Durham insists on putting his penis into this hornet’s nest, then, WHY NOT put Joffee, and the techs and other third party experts on the stand and really rip apart the governments unfounded conspiracy theories?

    I get that Sussman wants to find the easiest “not guilty offramp” that he can find, and there are plenty of them, but since Sussman and Joffee thought this DNS evidence was a hot enough national security issue to bring to the FBI, and they STILL stand by the work product, then why let criminals, traitors, frauds and rightwing liars get to write the history, and BURY the evidence AGAIN?

    • bmaz says:

      For starters, Joffe has relied on the 5th and nobody, neither Durham nor the court, seems inclined to immunize him. So he will not be placed in the chair.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m virtually certain that’s NOT what Sussmann intends.

      But we shall see what the next week brings.

    • Xboxershorts says:

      The more I think about the FBI’s actions here as outlined by Durham’s entire case, the more I believe that the FBI actively worked to bury this story themselves. How can a cyber security expert NOT look at the data yet compile an opinion about that data that is shared up the chain?

      This whole fucking thing stinks, and not just because it’s the United States executing a spite driven prosecution.

      I think it’s all part and parcel of the rats in high places in the American gov’t working to cover up their own actions in helping that orange shitstain fascist get elected with known illegal aid from multiple foreign agents and nations.

  12. harpie says:

    Maybe Marcy will update with this, but if not:
    1:23 PM · May 21, 2022

    I noted Judge Cooper ordered Durham’s team to redact part of Hillary’s tweet that referenced investigation. DeFilippis, who has found a way to break every rule Cooper set, gave Mook unredacted copy to read.

    Unsurprisingly, that made the press accounts. [link to CNN > Old Clinton tweet spurs online reaction]

    Here’s how the Tweet will go in as evidence and what it looks like in the transcript. [screenshots]

    So basically, once again, Durham gets the press frothed up and they play along.
    So, BREAKING: John Durham cheats again and the press rewards him!

    So, the jurors ALREADY HEARD this read to them…
    forgive me if I’m not impressed with redacting it AFTER the deceit.
    And the press is PATHETIC.

    • bmaz says:

      Meh, the press should report it, it is news. The blame goes to DeFilippis and the court.

    • harpie says:

      Hillary CLINTON tweet
      10/31/16 8:36 PM [TZ?]:

      Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. [screenshot of press release from Jake Sullivan]

    • Eureka says:

      Did you see Monica Jerbi 🇺🇦🇺🇸 @CyberlandGal replies in parts of that thread:

      “@emptywheel Classic lawfare former Soviet Republic style to weaponize the courts to destroy democracy from within”

      “@emptywheel NYT, Washington Post, and other major news outlets desperately need training in former Soviet republic style lawfare. Maybe they could reach out to the media in Estonia, for example, for such training”

      Note the last is a general comment as the linked article is by CNN.

      Adding: Marcy now has a new post up:

      • bmaz says:

        Here is my response to her:

        “What a load of reactionary garbage. Prosecutors have pulled this shit in every court across the US forever. Has nothing to do with Soviet weaponizing. Get a grip.”

        • Eureka says:

          True as to prosecutors and you would know intimately professionally (as opposed to those of us catching it in docs and your occasional “Dateline”-type ep.)

          But perhaps as with all of the other Trump-Russia stuff where our fingers point to Russia when they should aim within, attention here might highlight some other of the myriad problems we have to work on (such as a prosecution-narrative-reliant press). Especially as multinational authoritarian programmes continue to coalesce.

          [I’ll file her comments under things that are easier to detect when others do them. And learning from others in a related context seems potentially helpful, especially *because* we tend to not see the relevant parts of our own agency.]

          • Eureka says:

            re “prosecution-narrative-reliant press” (in part):

            Besides related practices like that discussion ~ weeks (months?) ago about the NYT / the press generally tending not to cover [certain Trumpist] stories unless there is a prosecution / charged crime, there is the case of willing propagandists feeding framing to MSM reporters [cf. that whole podcast anecdote on a recent page here about Katie Benner getting her Durham insights from Strassel / WSJ and, in her excitement that she “got it”, losing the entire plot as to what’s a prosecution-worthy “crime”]. Here is exactly where some training from press corps experienced in dealing with this stuff might be helpful, should the audience be so-willing.

          • bmaz says:

            Mine was a generalized comment, but it still applies here. Prosecutors generally have absolute immunity, and they know it. When they are DOJ lawyers, they not only have that, but also the shield of the bogus internal DOJ OPR. There are but a few exceptions, and they are not in play here. But prosecutors do pull this shit everyday, everywhere.

  13. harpie says:

    9/15/16 Trump’s moles at the NYT alert him to Lichtblau’s [NYT] soon to be published article about Trump’s ties with Russia.

    9/??/16 Blumenthal’s “reliable” GOP “source” tells him: [The Trump campaign is having] “a major league freak-out” [in] “anticipation of an investigative story to be published by the New York Times.” [] “That is completely the story of everything going on since Thursday. [9/15/16].”

    ALSO from Blumenthal’s MEMO:

    2. According to a Republican source close to the Trump campaign, the campaign is preparing a “helter-skelter” counter attack. This source says that Trump intends to attack the Podestas, focusing on the Podesta Group and its Ukraine work. A source says, “It’s old material, but that’s what they have.” He also says that Trump will attack Robby Mook, but the source had no more information other than he would somehow be targeted.

    3. Roger Ailes in not decision-making, but engaged in debate preparation. […] The Trump lies are not random, but calculated. Lying is the heart of the strategy. […]

    9/18/16 >>> 3 emails + 1 iMessage
    1] From: Sidney Blumenthal // Date: Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 2:07 PM
    Subject: MEMO: Trump Freak-Out // To: Nick Merrill

    2] From: Robby Mook // To: [Marc Elias; Jake Sullivan, Jennifer Palmieri; John Podesta]
    Sent: 9/18/2016 4:32:17 PM // Subject: Fwd: MEMO: Trump Freak-Out
    Importance: High

    3] From: [Marc Elias (WDC) [Perkins Coie email] [< I don't know what this is]
    To: Peter Fritsch; Glenn Simpson; Michael Sussman (WDC)
    Sent: 9/18/2016 5:08:43 PM // Subject: Fwd: MEMO: Trump Freak-Out

    4] iMessage [Sussman to Baker] // Sep 18, 2016, 7:24 PM

    Jim – It’s Michael Sussman. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company – want to help the Bureau. Thanks.

    • harpie says:


      9/18/16 STONE to CREDICO Text: “I am e-mailing u a request to pass on to [Assange].”

      < C: “Ok” [] “[j]ust remember do not name me as your connection to [Assange] you had one before that you referred to.”

      9/18/16 STONE to CREDICO Email: [fwd an ARTICLE with allegations against then-candidate Clinton related to her service as Secretary of State.] “Please ask [Assange] for any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30—particularly on August 20, 2011 that mention [the subject of the article] or confirm this narrative.”

      < C: [A few hours later] “That batch probably coming out in the next drop…I can’t ask them favors every other day .I asked one of his lawyers…they have major legal headaches riggt now..relax.”

      9/19/16 STONE to CREDICO Text: “Pass my message . . . to [Assange].”

      < C: “I did.”

      9/19/16 The metadata indicates the Podesta emails may have been transferred to WL from Guccifer 2.0 on September 19th.They contained copies of the Goldman Sachs transcripts. [Emma Best]

      9/20/16 CREDICO forwards STONES’s request [blind copied to STONE] to Margaret KUNSTLER, a WL attorney with the ability to contact ASSANGE.

      9/20/16 WL first contacts JUNIOR DON
      5:45 PM · Feb 3, 2019

      So…I ended up re-reading Don Jr‘s Senate Judiciary transcript. I missed this the first time.

      He testified the person he was DMing on Wikileaks’ Twitter identified herself as woman at a law firm. That didn’t happen in the DMs he released though he said it was the entire chain. [screenshot]

      Strange. When the person DMing Don JR from Wikileaks account asks him to send info to WK’s lawyers, the DM provides Kuntsler’s info.

      According to JR’s screenshots WL first contacts him on Sept 20. Which is the day Credico forwards Stone’s request for Hillary emails to Kunstler. [screenshots]

    • harpie says:

      Does anyone else think it might be possible that Blumenthal’s “reliable Republican source” might have been part of the planned “‘helter skelter’ counter attack”?

      And about that “counter attack”…They were already seeding the tale that the Lichtblau article was an attack against them by the Clinton campaign.

      • Eureka says:

        Dunno the the answer to your Q but the ‘helter-skelter’ passage strikes me as a bit disinformationy. The part about Mook; even the helter-skelter part as that also implies haste (not that these folks are wordsmiths). It also reads (by that date) as blandly uninformative (as to attacks re Ukraine/Podestas). IOW it sounds like a lot of the Steele Dossier parts that are off _just_ enough. So I’d say it’s either an adjacent person not wholly informed, or perhaps intentional disinfo fed to Blumenthal if sent by an insider to the attack. (If that’s the sense you mean.)

        • Eureka says:

          Besides things like the Ukraine/Podesta_s_-related attacks being on the burner before even the March hack of John* via the Mercer-funded GAI report — the report which Corsi and Stone later apparently drew from to form their own October Podesta attack, recall Stone was tweeting about Podesta in August [8/21/2016 for the “time in the barrel” tweet; don’t recall date of the earlier ~ “like St. Thomas Aquinas” one that Marcy posted about but am recalling that I found even further evidence that supported her interpretation (context where Stone had used the same phrase before) which is in a thread somewhere on this website].

          *in parallel with the earlier attempts to get Manafort on the Trump campaign prior to March 2016

        • harpie says:

          Hi, Eureka,

          I mean that TRUMP camp sent this info to HILLARY camp because they did NOT want the article published and they figured:

          – it would spread quickly and
          – someone in HILLARY camp might agree with them that the article should NOT be published [although for a very different reason], and
          – that person might warn someone in national security, who might have an interest in whether or not the story is published.

          They wanted the Lichtblau story NOT to see the light of day…
          and they got what they wanted by the end of THAT day.

          And knowing we’re talking about BANNON and STONE, et al.,
          this hypothesis just doesn’t seem too farfetched to me.

          • Eureka says:

            So “perhaps intentional disinfo fed to Blumenthal if sent by an insider to the attack” (meaning that the insider didn’t send their exact attack plans but instead generalized threats, threats HRC campaign may have been able to detect/anticipate/ from other things like Stone’s tweets, for ex, which may have caused HRC campaign to buy into the “reliable R source” info even further).

            My hunch is we’re ? talking past each other emphasizing different angles of the same thing. I understood what you meant by (potentially) Trump camp sending the info to HRC camp. I entertained that because of the nature of the info sent, that it could possibly be someone more adjacent, less central, OR that — if fed by a central person to Trump campaign plots — that the info was directed to be ~ ‘menacing’ but not really on target as to giving away much of their actual plans (disinfo-y).

            IOW I can see how your hypothesis would be correct (they definitely got the reaction they would have wanted from HRC campaign, which the email tizzy — besides the killed story — suggests).

            • harpie says:

              Yeah, I thought my hypothesis might fall into that part of your response.

              I am feeling really foggy today…might be the heat…might be all this other stuff that just.keeps.going.on.
              I’m looking at entries that clearly say 8/19/2016 [lol, foggy] and thinking 9/18/16.

              • Eureka says:

                Lol, the foggy zone — am familiar. [And the landslide even just the other day — incl. Eastman [Trump] stuff we’ve no time to discuss which reminded me of more Eastman stuff a week+ ago meant to discuss (his crazy remedies in TX v. case sounded an *awful* lot like some of Rudy’s earlier suggested remedies in the MDPA Frankenstein’s Monster case — *if*IRC).] [Etc., and sprinkle in some Ginni ….]

                The early-season heat and humidity (’tis NOT a dry heat) apparently led to a bunch of hospitalizations (and perhaps one death) with the Brooklyn Half Marathon yesterday.

                But here, for a pleasant distraction — beautifully gifted footwork:

                • harpie says:

                  That doesn’t seem possible!

                  [I’m going to write something about
                  GINNI and the THOMAS MESS at the end of the comment section, when I get a moment.]

              • Eureka says:

                May our minds move with the alacrity of this man’s hips and feet (goes w/link in mod).

                • Ginevra diBenci says:

                  Eureka and harpie, I think your minds are working fine. This entire exchange has been a gift, to me at least. And yeah, that fog still clinging six years later? It ain’t just the humidity (blessedly gone today). It’s fascism. I’m glad to be fighting it with folks like you.

  14. Eureka says:

    OT: Interesting. In light of Musk’s recent ‘taking my ball and going to my new home, the Republicans’ &c, @santiagomayer_ issued a reminder that Musk had donated to the RNC on January 7, 2021.

    But a screenshot shows a more interesting pattern of donations on 1/4 (to each RNC & WinRed), 1/5 (to each again), 1/7 (RNC), and 1/8 (RNC).

    [Donation immediately prior to those is on Election Day 11/3/2020 to Thom Tillis.]

    Reminds me of this House GOP precursor to the “buy twitter” story:

    • P J Evans says:

      This is my surprised face.
      (Techbros are mostly either Libertarioids or Rs. They hate having laws and regulations applied to *them*, as they are clearly superior to the rest of us.)

      • Eureka says:

        He’s one of the few who bothers to put on a stage act (for the public to see/shape/’gladiator’ about — he’s got the tiger by the tail), and whew is it tiring that our social structures feature people like this.

  15. harpie says:

    Yesterday bmaz retweeted:
    2:30 PM · May 22, 2022

    Replying to @espinsegall
    We mustn’t forget that Ginny was vetting folks for GWB’s cabinet as her husband was voting 5-4 in Bush v Gore to install him as President. [< harpie: WHAT???]

    That might have been a response to:
    9:01 AM · May 22, 2022

    Good morning. So Ginny Thomas was paid for many years to lobby against the ACA while Clarence Thomas on several occasions voted to overturn the ACA or weaken it substantially. AND, Thomas failed to report her income from that lobbying for years. That’s Clarence Thomas. [harpie: That I knew.]

    • harpie says:

      So, I looked around and found:

      [From 2019, this article is about the January 2019 WH meeting]:
      Ginni Thomas’ White House Meeting Was Just Another Grift The Supreme Court justice’s wife wants the president to hire more of her fringe, nativist friends. MARK JOSEPH STERN JAN 29, 2019

      […] In 2000, Ginni joined the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank closely tied to the Republican Party. When Bush v. Gore came before the Supreme Court, Ginni was collecting résumés for possible appointments to George W. Bush’s administration. [link]

      Links to [from 2000]:
      CONTESTING THE VOTE: CHALLENGING A JUSTICE; Job of Thomas’s Wife Raises Conflict-of-Interest Questions
      Dec. 12, 2000

      The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said today that she was working at a conservative research group [Heritage] gathering resumes for appointments in a possible Bush administration but that she saw no conflict between her job and her husband’s deliberations on a case that could decide the presidency. […]

      On Dec. 4, [12/4/2000] Mrs. Thomas sent an e-mail message to members of the House and Senate committees on government oversight seeking resumes for the presidential transition. She directed would-be applicants to forward their resumes along with a history of political activities or references to an associate at the foundation. […]

      Ginni [SCOTUS Spouse] THOMAS was NOT staying home and baking cookies.

      • harpie says:

        About this part, in 2000: [Ginni] She directed would-be applicants to forward their resumes along with a history of political activities or references to an associate at the foundation.

        I think I remember reading Ginni asked the same/similar question while she was soliciting resumes more recently [2018/19?], but I can’t locate it right now.

        ALSO: there is an ELABORATE Editor’s Note appended to the December 2000 NYT article, indicating that someone thought the article had been very unfair.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          harpie, thank you so much for reminding me of all this. I do remember it, but at the time it wasn’t obvious just what doom it was harbingering. Yet one more critical point to make whenever anti-Trump Republicans try to blame it all one him: the rot had already set in deep.

    • harpie says:

      And, for bmaz, re: law clerks:

      Clarence [“impartiality might reasonably be questioned”] THOMAS, re: CLERKS:

      […] He touched on a wide variety of subjects, including his “bias” of hiring clerks from what he called “modest circumstances.” He noted that most of the other justices hire clerks from the Ivy League, but he said that those who don’t come from elite law schools bring “wisdom” and “common sense, hard work and decency.” […]

      That’s for our conversation here about clerks from Ivy League v. other places:

  16. Eureka says:

    [OT Sports Desk — like there’s time for any of this shit]

    Go look at why I-95 is trending under “Sports”. Snyder tryna not get excommunicated from the owners by [“Surprise!”] buying a $100m parcel of land in VA. Per usual backfire for all-moves-Snyder, this would simply turn 95 into a parking lot:

    Area Residents Pissed!*

    *and passers-thru: that is a _gnarly_ segment of 95

          • Eureka says:

            So he’s got receipts on the Park Service guys just like he has on Goodell, then, huh.

            [the alleged invasive species (actually it’s a _genus_ Ailanthus) — which look nothing like old-growth oaks and sycamores he also felled ($$$) — rings a bell as they are the preferred host of the … spotted lanternfly!]

      • Eureka says:

        Also, I’m already convinced that *that* new Commie QB will love the environs with these (as pertinent) assholes. [The bland piety & access-kissing of rich DC suburbanites — like the opposite of twitter.]

        And did you see the Colts are talking to Foles (I’d love that, it would make that particular reunion game even better) (better yet is if they can sign him *and dress him* for when Colts play WFT).

        ETA: Hold up! They just teased on the news that Foles _has_ signed w/Colts.

  17. harpie says:

    I want to get these article in here, because I am not able to keep up:

    1] Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice, pressed Ariz. lawmakers to help reverse Trump’s loss, emails show Emma Brown May 20, 2022

    2] Group Chat Linked to Roger Stone Shows Ties Among Jan. 6 Figures The roster of participants highlights how Mr. Stone, the pro-Trump political operative, was involved with a strikingly large number of people who sought to overturn the 2020 election. Alan Feuer May 20, 2022, 5:00 a.m.

    • harpie says:

      Thanks for pointing this out, Eureka. [acck!]
      And thanks for adding to the list, above!

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