The White House on Monday refused to be drawn into the growing controversy over claims that Hillary Clinton’s allies tried to smear Donald Trump, and whether internet data collection amounted to spying.
Three times Joe Biden’s principal deputy press secretary was asked whether the president had any concerns about campaigns hacking into opponents’ computer systems to gather dirt.
And three times during the White House daily briefing Karine Jean-Pierre referred all questions to the Department of Justice.
The tussle followed a new legal filing in Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the origins of the Russia investigation. It alleged that a tech executive, linked to Clinton’s 2016 campaign, gained access to internet traffic at Trump Tower and the White House with the intention of collecting dirt on Trump.
Trump allies quickly cited it as proof of the former president’s claim he was being illegally spied on and that the Russian collusion tale was a hoax.
The issue was raised at the White House briefing.
Jacqui Heinrich, of Fox News, asked: ‘Does the president have any concerns about a candidate for president using computer experts to infiltrate computer systems of competing candidates – or even the president-elect – for the goal of creating a narrative … Is that something …’
Jean-Pierre cut her off, saying: ‘That’s something I can’t speak to from this podium so I refer you to the Department of Justice.’
Heinrich tried again: ‘Is what’s been described in that report, monitoring internet traffic, is that spying?’
‘Again I can’t speak to that report. I refer you to the Department of Justice,’ came the response.
Heinrich broadened her question, saying: ‘Generally speaking though, would monitoring internet traffic…’
‘Jacqui, my answer’s not going to change,’ said Jean-Pierre. ‘I refer you to Department of Justice. I can’t speak for that from here.’
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary referred questions about Special Counsel John Durham’s allegations that Hillary Clinton on allies spied on Trump when he was president to the Department of Justice during the regular White House daily briefing on Monday
Special Counsel John Durham has been tasked with investigating the origins of the investigation into links between Donald Trump and Russian officials. In particular he has focused on claims that the Clinton campaign saw Trump’s ties to Russia as a way of distracting from questions over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server
The questions have polarized American media.
Rightwing news organizations have accused what they call the ‘mainstream media’ of ignoring an important development.
But some internet experts say the internet data at issue – DNS lookups – are often shared by internet service providers with third parties, and their collection may not be illegal or constitute hacking.
Earlier, Trump era Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe claimed Biden and Barack Obama knew the Clinton campaign was trying to hack into Trump’s servers to try and find links to the Kremlin.
Ratcliffe said former CIA Director John Brennan told Obama and and Vice President Biden in 2016 about allegations Clinton was trying to fabricate Trump’s links to Russia to distract from the scandal over her deleted emails.
The former DNI also told Fox News Digital on Monday there was ‘enough evidence’ to indict ‘multiple people’ in Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into the origins of the Russia investigation into ex-President Donald Trump.
Clinton allegedly approved in the 2016 election ‘a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server,’ according to a CIA Counterintelligence Operational Lead (CIOL) first revealed when a heavily-redacted version became declassified in October 2020.
The September 2016 memo was forwarded from the CIA to the FBI to the attention of then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok.
Trump sent a short statement Monday morning claiming vindication after Durham’s filing apparently revealed Clinton’s plot to link him to Russia.
‘I was proven right about the spying, and I will be proven right about 2020!’ he wrote, insisting his claims of fraud and meddling in the 2020 presidential election will also be confirmed.
‘What did John Brennan tell President Obama in the Oval Office in 2016?’ Fox News’ Bill Hemmer asked Ratcliffe during an interview Monday.
‘Well, I can talk about this because this part has been declassified,’ he prefaced. ‘He briefed President Obama and Vice President Biden and other members of the national security team about this specific intelligence that John Durham now has about a Hillary Clinton plan to falsely accuse and vilify Donald Trump with a scandal, and the discussion around that and whether or not it was good intelligence.’
‘And so everything that happened after that is one of the reasons that John Durham is investigating,’ Ratcliffe added.
‘Those are the issues that John Durham is looking at and I think there will be many more,’ he said. ‘I would expect there to be quite a few more indictments because of that. There wasn’t a proper predicate to begin that investigation and John Durham has said that publicly already.’
DailyMail.com reached out to an Obama spokesperson regarding the alleged briefing but did not get a response.
Former DNI John Ratcliffe told Fox News in a Monday interview that former President Barack Obama and then-VP Joe Biden were briefed by then-CIA Director John Brennan in 2016 about allegations Hillary Clinton was trying to fabricate links between Trump to Russia
Ratcliffe told Special Counsel John Durham there is ‘enough evidence’ to indict ‘multiple people’ connected to the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He pointed to a declassified memo from September 2016 that Clinton approved a plan looking into Trump colluding with Russian hackers to ‘distract the public from her use of a private email server’
As developments in the case ensued Monday, Clinton posted an image of her young self with husband and former President Bill Clinton with the caption: ‘Happy Valentine’s Day!’
Brennan was questioned by Special Counsel John Durham’s team for eight hours in August 2020 as part of the ongoing investigation, specifically focusing on whether the former CIA director pushed for a more blunt assessment of Russia’s motivations
Ratcliffe told Durham, sources told Fox News, that the indictments could be connected to Clinton’s lawyers hacking Trump’s servers to try and fabricate ties to his campaign and the Kremlin in order to distract from her own email scandal.
A source familiar with the matter told Fox that Ratcliffe has privately raised concerns regarding the CIOL directing its memo specifically to Comey and Strzok.
Ratcliffe met with Durham more than once and shared his assessment that multiple people can be charged with a crime in the events that ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment, in which he was acquitted by the Senate.
Before becoming Trump’s director of National Intelligence, Ratcliffe served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas and after that was a congressman for Texas’ 4th congressional district.
A growing chorus of Democrats believe Clinton should be questioned by Durham for her alleged role in the Russian secret server scandal in a poll conducted before the bombshell revelations that her team spied on Trump’s campaign.
In a poll last month, 66 percent of Democrats wanted Clinton questioned, a whopping 22 percentage points higher than how many in her party demanded a probe last October, according to TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics (TIPP) research.
From Bill Barr’s confirmation hearing to indictments and the crumbling of the Steele dossier: The timeline of Durham’s investigation leading up to bombshell Hillary claims
May 17, 2017 – Then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller as special counsel. Among other things, Mueller is directed to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with’ Trump’s presidential campaign.
January 15, 2019 – Bill Barr first alluded to what would become the Durham investigation in his Senate confirmation hearing. He promised then-Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham he would examine the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation against Donald Trump.
On March 22, 2019 – Mueller closed his special investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and submitted his final report to Barr.
March 24, 2019 – Attorney General Barr issued his summary of the report.
March 25, 2019 – Barr met with then-Connecticut Attorney General John Durham. Justice Department records show the two had 18 more meetings and three calls that year.
April 10, 2019 – Barr testified before a Senate Appropriations panel where he announced a review on ‘the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016.’
April 12, 2019 – A top Barr aide spoke with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to explain what appeared to be the start of Durham’s probe.
May 13, 2019 – It became public that Barr tapped Durham to probe issues related to the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.
May 23, 2019 – Trump said Barr asked him to direct intelligence officials to cooperate with the probe into surveillance during the 2016 election.’ Trump authorized Barr to declassify and downgrade information related to the probe.
July 25, 2019 – Trump held his infamous phone call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, revealing Trump may have referred to the Durham probe when he asked Kyiv for help and insisted Zelensky speak with Barr and Rudy Giuliani.
October 19, 2019 – Two articles came out indicating Durham interviewed two dozen FBI officials.
October 24, 2019 – The New York Times broke the news that the Durham inquiry was now a criminal investigation.
December 2019 – Durham was revealed to be examining the role of the Obama-era CIA director John Brennan in how the intelligence community assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference.
April 2020 – Durham’s probe proceeded despite the pandemic.
April 10, 2020 – Barr said Durham’s ‘primary focus… is looking to bring to justice people who are engaged in abuses if he can show that they were criminal violations.’
April 24, 2020 – Probe shifted to looking at leaks within the Trump administration that prompted chaos in his early years.
May 18, 2020 – Barr said during a press conference that neither Obama nor Biden was the focus of Durham’s criminal probe.
September 2021 – Durham issued new set of subpoenas, including to a law firm with close ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
September 17, 2021 – Cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann pleaded not guilty in federal court. He was indicted for lying to the FBI in a 2016 meeting where he shared information related to ties between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. He said he wasn’t working for a client but was hired by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
November 2021 – Durham charged Russian-born analyst Igor Danchenko with lying to the FBI in fabricating a sources for the Steele dossier. He pleaded not guilty to five counts of making false statements to a federal agent.
February 11, 2022 – Durham filing reveals Clinton paid tp have Trump Tower and White House servers hacked to ‘fabricate’ ties between Trump and Russia.
February 2022 – Trump-era Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe reveals Durham thinks there is ‘enough evidence’ to indict ‘several more people.’ He also said Obama and Biden were briefed on the Clinton revelations in 2016.
The number of Democrats who want 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton questioned by Special Counsel John Durham over the Russia secret server scandal has jumped in recent months
The amount of Republicans demanding answers is also swelling, rising to 91 percent in January from 80 percent last October. Among the independent crowd, those wanting the former secretary of state probed rose to 74 percent from 65 percent.
Both polls were completed before Special Counsel John Durham last week released a bombshell report that claimed Clinton’s campaign team tried to spy on former president Trump’s computer servers in a failed attempt to tie him to Russia.
Clinton, 74, is being accused of hiring a tech term to ‘infiltrate’ servers at Trump Tower and the White House during the 2016 campaign.
The New Jersey-based polling company surveyed 1,308 Americans.
According to a recently-released filing from Durham, the aim was to try and smear Trump by linking him to Russia. Clinton’s campaign repeatedly accused Trump of using a secret server to communicate with Russians, although the claim has never been proven.
Durham was appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr to serve as the Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice in October 2020, while Trump was president.
He continues to investigate a case that is sure to anger supporters of the 45th president.
Tweets from the 2016 presidential campaign resurfaced Sunday and show how Clinton promoted unproven reports that Trump conspired with the Russians.
While running for the nation’s highest office, Clinton pushed the narrative that Trump was secretly communicating with Russians via the country’s Alfa Bank.
‘Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,’ she tweeted on October 31, 2016 while sharing a statement from her then-special policy advisor Jake Sullivan – who is now Biden’s National Security adviser.
‘This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia,’ the statement said. ‘It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists.’
In another tweet, published the same day, Clinton said: ‘It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia’.
She also promoted a Slate article that questioned whether Trump was really using a secret server to communicate with allies abroad.
Clinton included in her tweet a box that reiterated claims that such a server existed, and that it was being used to ‘communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.’
‘When a reporter asked about it, they shut it down,’ the tweet said. ‘One week later, they created a different server with a different name for the same purpose.
Durham’s motion filed on Friday looked at potential conflicts of interest with regard to former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who has been charged with making a false statement to a federal agent. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
‘Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank,’ she tweeted on October 31, 2016 while sharing a statement from her then-special policy advisor Jake Sullivan
In another tweet, Clinton said: ‘It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia’
Donald Trump said Sunday that the revelation is a bigger scandal and crime than Watergate, which saw the eventual resignation of then-President Richard Nixon
Clinton lost the 2016 election to 45th president Donald Trump, who was accused of using secret servers to communicate with Russian allies
The Steele dossier ‘source’, an attorney linked to Hillary and a lawyer in Mueller’s probe: The accusations in Durham’s investigation
A recently revealed filing from Special Counsel John Durham alleged Hillary Clinton paid a lawyer to infiltrate Trump Tower and White House servers in the 2016 campaign and after. It claims she was seeking to fabricate a link between Trump and Russia’ Alfa Bank to distract from her email scandal at the time.
The 43-year-old Russian-born analyst was arrested in November 2021 in Virginia by federal agents assigned to Durham’s special counsel and charged with five counts of lying to FBI agents about the sources he used in collecting information for Michael Steele, who is identified in the indictment only as ‘UK Person-1’.
Danchenko was the primary researcher for Steele’s opposition research dossier alleging that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russia in a covert operation to beat Clinton. He also informed Steele that Russia had the infamous ‘golden showers’ tape that could be used to blackmail Trump.
In September 2021, Durham indicted the cybersecurity lawyer, accusing him of lying to the FBI during a September 2016 conversation when relaying concerns about potentially suspicious cyber contacts between a Trump Organization server and the server of a Russian bank.
When bringing the concerns to then-FBI general counsel James Baker, the indictment alleged that Sussmann lied and said he was not representing a client when he was actually hired by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign
Sussmann has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers have claimed the case is driven by politics.
The first criminal charges in Durham’s probe were against Kevin Clinesmith, an FBI attorney assigned to the Robert Mueller probe.
Clinesmith, 38, pleaded guilty to altering an email during the process of acquiring a wiretap warrant renewal on former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
He was sentenced to probation.
The Obama-era CIA Director was questioned by Durham’s team for eight hours in August 2020 as part of the ongoing investigation. Specifically the special counsel was interested in whether Brennan pushed for a more blunt assessment of Russia’s motivations
Trump-era Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Monday that Brennan did brief then President Barack Obama and Vice President at the time Joe Biden in 2016 about the allegations Clinton was trying to ‘fabricate’ a link between Trump and Russia.
While a ‘key player’ in the Durham investigation, Rodney Joffe is not officially indicted or accused of any wrongdoing as of yet. He is, however, referred to as ‘Tech Executive-1’ in Sussmann’s indictment for allegedly lying to the FBI by withholding his connections to Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
The indictment for Sussmann notes that Joffe ‘retained Sussman as his lawyer’ in February 2015 in connection with an unspecified ‘matter involving an agency of the US government.’
The former chief investigator of the Trump-Russia probe for the House Intelligence Committee, Kash Patel, said Friday’s filing ‘definitively showed the Hillary Clinton campaign directly funded and ordered its lawyers at Perkins Coie to orchestrate a criminal enterprise to fabricate a connection between President Trump and Russia,’ Fox News reported.
‘Per Durham, this arrangement was put in motion in July of 2016, meaning the Hillary Clinton campaign and her lawyers masterminded the most intricate and coordinated conspiracy against Trump when he was both a candidate and later president of the United States while simultaneously perpetuating the bogus Steele Dossier hoax,’ Patel told Fox.
Trump in a statement Sunday likened the alleged spying to the infamous Watergate scandal, which brought down Richard Nixon.
‘What Hillary Clinton and the Radical Left Democrats did with respect to spying on a President of the United States, even while in office, is a far bigger crime than Watergate,’ Trump said.
‘It will be interesting to see how it was covered by the media and what Mitch McConnell and the RINOs will be doing about it. This is an insult to the Republican Party, but a far greater insult to our Nation.’
Trump on Saturday unleashed a furious broadside claiming that Team Clinton’s behavior would once have merited execution, after Durham made a court filing explaining the alleged hack.
He said: ‘In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.’