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A key Pentagon agency denied that it had any involvement in assigning blame for the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee to Russia following an email that indicated special counsel John Durham’s investigative team sought the opinion of a computer expert who researched ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ claims over it.
As noted by the Washington Examiner, “Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann was indicted last year for allegedly concealing his clients, including Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, from the FBI when he pushed since-debunked claims of a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank.”
“Durham revealed in February he has evidence Sussmann’s other client, known to be former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe, ‘exploited’ domain name system internet traffic at Trump Tower, former President Donald Trump’s Central Park West apartment building, and ‘the Executive Office of the President of the United States,'” the outlet continued.
With that in mind, Dr. Manos Antonakaki, a professor at Georgia Tech who is noted as “Researcher-1” in Durham’s recent court filings, noted in a July 2021 email that Andrew DeFilippis, a prosecutor on Durham’s team, asked him about any work he may have done in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
In addition, the Examiner reported, DeFilippis also questioned Antonakaki about an online persona known as “Guccifer 2.0,” whom U.S. intelligence agencies and special counsel Robert Mueller claimed was a creation of Russian intelligence to help perform a hacking and leaking campaign against the DNC in 2016.
The Examiner adds:
The attribution of the hack to Russia has been the subject of curiosity for years, and emails first published by The Federalist prompted DARPA to deny to the Washington Examiner that it had any involvement in determining it was Russian intelligence behind the hack, despite the email from Antonakakis.
“During one of my interviews with the Special Counsel prosecutor, I was asked point-blank by Mr. DeFilippis, ‘Do you believe that DARPA should be instructing you to investigate the origins of a hacker (Guccifer 2.0) that hacked a political entity (DNC)?’ Let that sync for a moment, folks,” Antonakakis noted in his email last summer.
“Someone hacked a political party (DNC, in this case), in the middle of an election year (2016), and the lead investigator of DOJ’s special counsel [sic] would question whether U.S. researchers working for DARPA should conduct investigations in this matter is ‘acceptable’!” the email continued.
“While I was tempted to say back to him, ‘What if this hacker hacked GOP? Would you want me to investigate him then?’, I kept my cool and told him this is a question for DARPA’s director, and not for me to answer,” Antonakakis continued.
The Examiner noted further that the July 2021 email was sent to Georgia Tech general counsel Ling-Ling Nie and two other officials at the university.
“DARPA was not involved in efforts to attribute the DNC hack. Dr. Antonakakis worked on DARPA’s Enhanced Attribution program, which did not involve analysis of the DNC hack,” Jared Adams, DARPA’s chief of communications, told the outlet.
“Further, DARPA was not involved in efforts to attribute the Guccifer 2.0 persona, nor any involvement in efforts to attribute the origin of leaked emails provided to Wikileaks,” Adams noted further.
The spokesman also addressed a meeting between his agency and Durham.
“The meeting between DARPA and special counsel Durham was to provide a high-level overview of the Enhanced Attribution program,” said Adams. “During the course of that meeting, DARPA did not discuss matters related to the DNC hack, Guccifer 2.0, or leaked DNC emails provided to Wikileaks.”
He said that “to the best our knowledge, no DARPA-funded researchers investigated” the DNC hack, adding that the secretive research agency did not assist the FBI’s nor Mueller’s investigation in the matter.
The Examiner added:
Antonakakis is listed as an associate professor and a faculty member at Georgia Tech, and the school says he runs the Astrolavos Lab, which researches “attack attribution” and “data mining.” He has not been accused of breaking any laws. His lawyer did not provide a comment.
Durham’s filings reference Georgia Tech’s “Agency-1 [DARPA] Contract.” Durham’s indictment of Sussmann stated that if the FBI had been told the true origins of the Alfa Bank claims, it might have learned that Joffe “had enlisted, and was continuing to enlist, the assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university who were receiving and analyzing Internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract” through DARPA.