A former business partner of the tech expert at the center of the criminal case against former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann told jurors Tuesday that in 2016 he was asked to use internet data to tie associates of then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia.
Jared Novick, who heads a cyberthreat analysis company, said in August 2016 he was asked by Rodney Joffe to look into whether members of the Trump campaign had ties to Russian companies, including Alfa Bank.
“I was immediately uncomfortable with the tasking,” Mr. Novick told jurors in a Washington, D.C. federal court. “I felt like this would be opposition research.”
Mr. Novick said that Mr. Joffe approached him with a PDF document that included details about Trump campaign associates, including adviser Carter Page and donor Richard Burt.
The PDF included the associates’ personal email addresses, names of spouses, home addresses, and other data.
“It was very personal,” Mr. Novick told the court. “It was a political request.”
Mr. Sussmann is accused of lying to the FBI by saying he was not working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Mr. Joffe when he peddled accusations to the FBI that the Trump Organization’s computer servers were secretly communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank.
Prosecutors say Mr. Sussmann pitched the now-debunked Alfa Bank accusations to sabotage the Trump campaign ahead of the 2016 campaign.
Defense attorneys say he didn’t lie to the FBI and his ties to Mr. Joffe and the DNC were well known to bureau officials.
Mr. Joffe retained Mr. Sussmann as his lawyer in February 2015 in connection with an unspecified matter involving a U.S. government agency, according to a court filing earlier this year.
He later asked a researcher to mine internet data to create a narrative that Mr. Trump was colluding with Russia, the special counsel alleged.
That research later was the basis for a white paper by Mr. Joffe and Mr. Sussmann alleging the Trump Organization was secretly communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank.
Mr. Sussmann turned that white paper over to FBI General Counsel James Baker, spurring the FBI’s probe into Mr. Trump’s ties to the bank.
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