Cyber Company CEO Testifies Hillary Clinton Ally Pressured Firm to Dig Dirt on Trump
Rodney Joffe pressured BitVoyant after promise of government job from Hillary
A top cyber company CEO has testified under oath that an ally of Hillary Clinton's pressured his firm into compiling a report on President Donald Trump and his associates with the intention of "digging dirt."
In August 2016, technology executive Rodney Joffe pressured Jared Novick, the CEO and part-owner of BitVoyant, with the request.
Joffe said he was acting on behalf of Hillary after being promised a position in a Clinton administration.
Novick testified in federal court on Tuesday during the trial of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign attorney Michael Sussmann.
Sussmann is on trial for lying to the FBI in charges that have arisen from the investigations by Special Counsel John Durham.
Novick said he was ordered to "dig dirt" on about half a dozen of Donald Trump's associates and their families
Novick recounted receiving a document that had the names of about six individuals, their spouses, their personal emails, and their addresses, along with other information.
The first name was Carter Page, the Trump campaign associate that was spied on by the U.S. government despite being an asset for the CIA.
Richard Burt, a lobbyist, was another name, Novick said.
According to a court filing, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, two other Trump associates, were also listed.
The request was “extremely uncommon,” Novick told the court.
“The whole thing felt to me like opposition research,” he said.
“It made me feel very uncomfortable.”
Novick went to Victor Oppleman, a friend who, like Joffe, was on BitVoyant’s board, and aired his concerns.
While Oppleman also was displeased with the request, Novick ultimately moved forward with compiling the report, assigning three analysts to it.
The project was dubbed Crimson Rhino.
“The last thing I wanted was Donald Trump’s name” on BitVoyant’s tasking board so that everybody could see, Novick said.
He restricted knowledge of the project to employees who had connections with Joffe.
“I told them to hopefully do it quickly and get rid of it,” he said.
Joffe asked the company to “cast a large net” in the operation.
He handed over Domain Name System data from the White House and Trump’s residences that he accrued through his own company, Neustar, to help with the project.
The goal was “to go deep, as deeply as possible, go wide, not look through a soda straw but look at everywhere for things related” to the Russian Alfa Bank, Novick said.
Some of what turned up may not be related to Alfa Bank, Joffe said.
Novick was testifying during the trial of Michael Sussmann, a Clinton campaign lawyer who also represented Joffe in 2016 ahead of the election.
Sussmann is on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI when he said he was not bringing information that he said showed a backchannel between Trump’s business and Alfa Bank to an FBI lawyer.
The bureau and the CIA later found the backchannel claim unsupported.
Novick’s team, after several weeks, finished the report and gave it to Joffe.
He said he was told the information was going to an attorney.
Under cross-examination by Sussmann lawyer Sean Berkowitz, Novick acknowledged arguing with Joffe at times.
He said he didn’t remember telling prosecutors that there was “a bit of friction” between himself and Joffe.
It remains unclear whether Sussmann will testify in his own defense.
Prosecutors plan on wrapping up their case on Wednesday; defense lawyers will call former New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau, FBI agent Tom Grasso, and “some character witnesses,” among others.