August 9, 2023 – Johnson/Grassley pressure Pentagon to reveal if DARPA investigated DNC email hack in 2016 that was falsely blamed on Russians colluding with Trump

In Email/Dossier Investigations, Featured Timeline Entries by Katie Weddington

The original DARPA logo.

Was the Pentagon‘s research agency involved in pushing false claims Russians working for Donald Trump hacked the Democratic National Committee email server in 2016?

It’s the question two Republican Senators are demanding answers to after unearthing a new email showing links between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and computer scientists investigating who was behind the cyber attack that shook the presidential campaign.

The latest call for an investigation comes months after Special Counsel John Durham concluded there was no evidence Trump conspired with Moscow to help him defeat Hillary Clinton in a damning report.

Since then, the hunt for those responsible for pushing fabricated stories of Trump’s link to the Kremlin to politicians and the press have intensified.

The hack led to a leak of emails that were damning for Clinton and the DNC, and some say it contributed to her loss to Trump.

Hackers tied to Moscow were initially deemed the perpetrators, but Durham’s report sparked allegations DARPA were behind the false narrative.

The claims stemmed from DARPA’s highly-contested work with research partner Georgia Institute of Technology and one of their computer scientists Dr. Manos Antonakakis.

An email obtained by Durham revealed Antonakakis, who was investigating the DNC and Republican National Committee (RNC) databases, said ‘the only thing that drives us is that we just don’t like [Trump],’

DARPA have continuously denied they were behind the allegations Russia was involved in the hack.

But Republicans say a new email raises fresh questions about their claim and the origins of the now-debunked allegations.

Senators Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa said the new evidence proves DARPA signed off on a project related to the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC). has exclusively obtained a letter they wrote this week to Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, Director of DARPA, demanding answers about the agency’s work with the Georgia Institute of Technology on the Enhanced Attribution (EA) program related to the 2016 hack of DNC communications.

The EA program probes malicious cyber attacks.

The email from Antonakakis reads:  ‘Folks, last night as I was thinking what we can study, I also realized that we do not know much about the RNC and DNC networks out there. Wrote a job that run [sic] over night and I know [sic] have 292 *hand verified* at this point networks that are linked with RNC, DNC, and all local/state committee networks around the US.

‘An adversary would find those networks interesting for a number of reasons.

‘So, I think we should run a reverse Pythia and see what we can see.

If you approve this, [DARPA employee], I would like from you to think how we will break any bad news to these people? If you cannot think of a clear and clean way to inform them (is this DHS’s role or FBI’s or USCC’s?), perhaps we should let them remain infected. Thanks, Manos

The response from DARPA read: ‘Sensitive stuff but yes, I know who to talk to if we find anything. Worth doing.’

Antonakis wrote back: ‘OK, then. I will work with these networks and see what I can come up with.’\

Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussman was indicted last year for allegedly concealing his clients, including 2015 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, when he pushed since-debunked claims of a connection between the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank to the FBI.

In April 2018 the DNC filed a lawsuit accusing the Russian government, the Trump campaign and Wikileaks alleging they colluded to influence the 2016 election with the hack.

It’s not yet clear what the source of the claims is for the allegation the Trump team and Russia coordinated the DNC hack.

In May of this year, Durham referred two matters to the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Defense Intelligence Agency, including ‘[o]ne matter involv[ing] the execution of a contract between DARPA and the Georgia Institute of Technology…’ and a ‘separate matter involv[ing] the irregular conduct in 2016 of two former employees of the Department of Defense.’

DARPA has denied any role in attributing the 2016 DNC hack to Russia after an email showed special counsel John Durham’s team asked Antonakis whether DARPA had had a role in the attribution of the hack.

Antonakis expressed dismay that the Durham team questioned whether DARPA should be poking around the origins of a hacker of a political entity.

The emails first published by The Federalist read:  ‘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 [sic] for a moment, folks,’ Antonakakis wrote 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 council [sic] would question whether U.S. researchers working for DARPA should conduct investigations in this matter is ‘acceptable’!’

Antonakakis added: ‘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.’ (Read more: The Daily Mail, 8/11/2023)  (Archive)