ewly released CIA memoranda suggest the tech gurus behind the Alfa Bank hoax also tracked Donald Trump’s movements to devise another collusion conspiracy theory. While smaller in scale than other aspects of Spygate, the Yotaphone hoax represents an equally serious scandal because it involved both the mining of proprietary information and sensitive data from the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and the apparent surveillance of Trump’s physical movements.
When Special Counsel John Durham charged former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann in September 2021, the indictment focused on the Alfa Bank hoax that Sussmann, tech executive Rodney Joffe, and other cybersecurity experts had crafted. The indictment detailed how Joffe and other tech experts had allegedly mined data and developed “white papers” that deceptively created the impression that Trump had maintained a secret communication network with the Russia-based Alfa Bank.
Then, allegedly on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Joffe, Sussmann provided the Alfa Bank material to the media and to the FBI’s general counsel at the time, James Baker, with Sussmann falsely telling Baker he was sharing the “intel” on his own and not on behalf of any client. That alleged lie formed the basis for the one count, Section 1001 false statement charge against Sussmann.
There’s Another Alleged Lie
The 27-page indictment, however, also spoke of Sussmann sharing “updated allegations” on February 9, 2017, to another U.S. government agency, namely the CIA, while allegedly repeating the same false claim that he was not sharing the “intel” on behalf of any client. From the framing of the indictment, it appeared that what Sussmann had shared with the CIA concerned the same Alfa-Bank data provided to the FBI several months earlier, albeit updated.
But then two months ago, as part of the government’s “Motion to Inquire Into Potential Conflicts of Interest,” Durham’s team revealed for the first time that when Sussmann met with the CIA in early 2017, he provided agents with internet data beyond the Alfa Bank conspiracy theory. This data, Sussmann claimed, “demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House and other locations.”
The “supposedly rare, Russian-made wireless phones” were “Yotaphones.” Following Durham’s filing of the conflicts of interest motion, it appeared Sussmann bore responsibility for peddling a second conspiracy theory to the CIA. But the details contained in the government’s motion proved insufficient to understand the Yotaphone angle to Spygate. That all changed on Friday, when the special counsel filed two CIA memoranda memorializing what Sussmann said about the Yotaphones and the data Joffe and his tech experts had compiled.
What Sussmann Told the CIA
The first memorandum, dated January 31, 2017, summarized what Sussmann told a former CIA employee in hopes of scoring a meeting with the CIA. Sussmann said his client “had some interesting information about the presence and activity of a unique Russian made phone around President Trump.” Sussmann claimed the activity started in April 2016 when Trump was working out of the Trump Tower on its Wi-Fi network. That phone was also used on the “Wi-Fi at Trump’s apartment at Grand Central Park West,” according to Sussmann.
The memorandum then noted that “when Trump traveled to Michigan to interview a cabinet secretary, the phone appeared with Trump in Michigan.” The unnamed cabinet secretary apparently refers to Trump’s education sec…