Durham: Tech Exec Warned Collusion Narrative 'Will Not Fly' Special counsel John Durham in 2018. (U.S. Department of Justice via AP, File)
By Luca Cacciatore | Thursday, 14 April 2022 05:51 PM
An opposition researcher hired by tech executive Rodney Joffe appeared to express doubts about his task to construct a narrative of collusion between the Kremlin and former President Donald Trump in August 2016, the New York Post reported last week.
In a filing from John Durham on April 4, the special counsel argues Joffe told an opposition researching team that top Clinton campaign officials were "looking for a true story that could be used as the basis for closer examination" regarding Trump and Russia.
"Trump has claimed he and his company have had NO dealings with .ru [web domains] other than the failed Casino, and the Miss universe [sic] pageant," Joffe allegedly wrote in an email. "He claims absolutely NO interaction with any financial institutions. So, any potential like that would be jackpot."
Days later, one of the researchers replied to Joffe, saying that his proposition was unreasonable and would "not fly in eyes of public scrutiny."
"[Y]ou do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to even make a very weak association?" wrote the person, identified only as Researcher-1. " … [U]nless we get … traffic collected at critical points between suspect organizations, we cannot technically make any claims that would fly public scrutiny."
"In this case we will have not only the Trump folks trying to sho[o]t this down, but all the privacy freaks trying to come up with a crazy conspiracy theory on how we obtain the data," the researcher added.
"Sorry to say this, we are nowhere close coming with a plan to attack this problem that will fly in the public domain. The only thing that drives us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. This will not fly in eyes of public scrutiny. Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision."
Despite this skepticism, a white paper claiming that Trump Organization computer servers were communicating with servers at Russia's Alfa Bank was later drafted by the team, the Post reported.
Lawyer Michael Sussmann, who assisted the Clinton campaign and is currently charged with lying to the FBI about the nature of his work there, would eventually turn over the white paper to the FBI on Sept. 19, 2016.
Durham has recommended that communications between Joffe and online researchers be admitted as evidence in Sussmann's upcoming trial.