NEW YORK – Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), reportedly helped draft CrowdStrike to aid with the DNC’s allegedly hacked servers.
CrowdStrike is the third-party company ultimately relied upon by the FBI to make its assessment about alleged Russian hacking into the DNC. The DNC reportedly did not allow the FBI to gain access to servers that were suspected of being hacked, instead coming to an arrangement with the federal agency in which CrowdStrike carried out forensics on the servers and shared details with the FBI.
The information about Perkins Coie’s reported role in bringing in CrowdStrike, first documented by the Washington Post last June, is newly relevant as attention in the Russia probe shifts to the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that in April 2016, attorney Marc E. Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained Fusion GPS to conduct the questionable research on behalf of both the Clinton campaign and the DNC that ultimately resulted in the now infamous, largely discredited dossier claiming that President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
Through Perkins Coie, Clinton’s campaign and the DNC continued to fund Fusion GPS until October 2016, days before Election Day, the Post reported.
Adding more intrigue upon reassessment, the Post in June cited DNC officials claiming that “hackers” into the DNC servers had “gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
That characterization may require further investigation following the revelation that it was Perkin Coie, reportedly acting on behalf of the DNC and Clinton’s campaign, that paid for Fusion GPS’s opposition research into Trump.
CNN reported that in private interviews with Congressional investigators prior to the Post’s report revealing Perkins Coie’s reported payment to Fusion GPS, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both denied that they were aware of any arrangement to fund Fusion GPS’s opposition research. CNN reported that Elias was seated next to Podesta during the private interview.
That report prompted former CIA Director Leon Panetta to advocate for the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate both the Clinton campaign and the DNC about whether they had any knowledge of the payment to Fusion GPS to produce the dossier.
“Well, it certainly makes the situation very awkward,” Panetta said of Elias’s alleged involvement. “If you’re testifying and saying you have no knowledge, and the attorney sitting next to you is one of those that knew what was involved here, I think it does raise an issue that the committee is going to have to look at and determine just exactly who knew what.”
Perkins Coie, however, was reportedly more involved in matters related to the Russia probe beyond hiring Fusion GPS.
In a report that may take on renewed significance, the Washington Post last June documented how Michael Sussmann, a partner with Perkins Coie who also represented the DNC, was involved in bringing in Crowdstrike after the DNC suspected its servers had been hacked. CrowdStrike then identified hacker groups allegedly tied to Russia.
The Post reported that Sussman called in Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike.
The Post reported:
DNC leaders were tipped to the hack in late April. Chief executive Amy Dacey got a call from her operations chief saying that their information technology team had noticed some unusual network activity. “It’s never a call any executive wants to get, but the IT team knew something was awry,” Dacey said. And they knew it was serious enough that they wanted experts to investigate.
That evening, she spoke with Michael Sussmann, a DNC lawyer who is a partner with Perkins Coie in Washington. Soon after, Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor who handled computer crime cases, called Henry, whom he has known for many years.
Within 24 hours, CrowdStrike had installed software on the DNC’s computers so that it could analyze data that could indicate who had gained access, when and how.
According to the Post, citing DNC officials, the “hackers” had “gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
In January testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI registered “multiple requests at different levels,” to review the DNC’s hacked servers. Ultimately, the DNC and FBI came to an agreement in which a “highly respected private company”—a reference to CrowdStrike—would carry out forensics on the servers and share any information that it discovered with the FBI, Comey testified.
A senior law enforcement official stressed the importance of the FBI gaining direct access to the servers, a request that was denied by the DNC.
“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official was quoted by the news media as saying.
“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier,” the official continued.
Comey’s statement about a “highly respected private company” gaining access to the DNC servers was a reference to CrowdStrike, the third-party company ultimately relied upon by the FBI to make its assessment about alleged Russian hacking into the DNC.
As this reporter documented, CrowdStrike was financed to the tune of $100 million from a funding drive by Google Capital.
Google Capital, which now goes by the name of CapitalG, is an arm of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, has been a staunch and active supporter of Hillary Clinton and is a longtime donor to the Democratic Party.
CrowdStrike is a California-based cybersecurity technology company co-founded by experts George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch.
Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council. The Council takes a hawkish approach toward Russia and has released numerous reports and briefs about Russian aggression.
The Council is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., the U.S. State Department, and NATO ACT.
Another Council funder is the Ploughshares Fund, which in turn has received financing from billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
Meanwhile, after the Perkins Coie funding for opposition research, Fusion GPS went on to hire former intelligence agent Christopher Steele to do the purported research. Steele later conceded in court documents that part of his work still needed to be verified.
The dossier contains wild and unproven claims that the Russians had information regarding Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the widely mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed. It also claimed there was an exchange of information between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.
Those allegations remain unsubstantiated following numerous public hearings. Indeed, former CIA Director John Brennan made clear in testimony last May that after viewing all of the evidence that was available to him on the Russia probe he is not aware of any collusion between Russia and members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
According to the BBC, the dossier served as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation into claims of coordination between Moscow and members of Trump’s presidential campaign during the Obama administration.
In April, CNN reported that the dossier served as part of the FBI’s justification for seeking the FISA court’s reported approval to clandestinely monitor the communications of Carter Page, the American oil industry investor who was tangentially and briefly associated with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Senior Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have reportedly requested that the FBI and Department of Justice turn over applications for any warrants to monitor the communications of U.S. citizens associated with the investigation into alleged Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In June testimony to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey admitted he pushed back against a request from President Donald Trump to possibly investigate the origins of “salacious material” that the agency possessed in the course of its investigation into alleged Russian interference.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
This article was written with additional research by Joshua Klein.