The “Tech Executive-1” in John Durham’s indictment of a Democratic cybersecurity lawyer testified in a lawsuit that he had invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked to testify by the special counsel.

Rodney Joffe, former senior vice president at Neustar, coordinated in 2016 with Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was indicted last year for allegedly concealing his clients, including Hillary Clinton's campaign and Joffe, from the FBI in September 2016 when he pushed debunked claims of a secret back channel between the Trump Organization and Russia's Alfa Bank.

Alfa Bank filed a “John Doe” lawsuit and deposed Joffe in February. A common refrain from Joffe was: “As a result of the ongoing investigation of the Office of the Special Counsel, on the advice of my counsel, I’m going to decline to answer the question on the basis of my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.”

“They did serve me with a grand jury subpoena, and I did invoke my Fifth Amendment rights,” Joffe said, saying that the subpoena was for “testimony and documents” and that “the subpoenas came after a request for an interview.”

Joffe said Sussmann became an attorney for Neustar around 2010, and “it continued until September when the indictment occurred.” He pleaded the Fifth on whether Sussmann ever represented him personally. Joffe said he retired in mid-September.

Sussmann pleaded not guilty, with Durham revealing last month he has evidence Joffe “exploited” DNS internet traffic at Trump Tower, Donald Trump’s Central Park West apartment building, and the Executive Office of the President.


Durham said in October that Joffe “exploited his own company’s access to the sensitive internet data of a high-ranking executive branch office of the U.S. government, both before and after the Presidential election." Joffe pleaded the Fifth when asked to identify the executive office. Joffe’s attorney said "that should not be interpreted as an admission that the ... allegations, which are just allegations in the indictment, are accurate.”

Joffe said he had “never heard of” the Alfa Bank allegations prior to the summer of 2016.

When asked if it was possible to cause pings from a DNS perspective to make it look like a communication, he said, “I have no idea.” He denied manipulating the DNS data in the Alfa Bank allegations or creating false pings.

Durham’s indictment of Sussmann alleged Joffe tasked researchers with mining internet data to establish a “narrative” tying then-candidate Trump to Russia. Durham said Joffe indicated he was doing this to please Clinton campaign “VIPs."

Joffe said he was not paid by Clinton's campaign. He declined to say whether Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias or Fusion GPS were present when he discussed the Alfa Bank allegations with Sussmann in July 2016 and said he had “never heard of” Fusion before 2016.

Durham said that, shortly after Clinton’s loss, Joffe wrote in an email: "I was tentatively offered the top [cybersecurity] job by the Democrats when it looked like they'd win. I definitely would not take the job under Trump."

Joffe testified, “I’ve never been interested in politics. I’ve never been involved in politics. ... I haven’t donated to any parties or given any kind of benefit to any parties, but I certainly over the last few years have had an interest in the politics of the country I live in.” Joffe pleaded the Fifth on his thoughts about Trump.

He appears to have referred to himself as “Max” in a 2018 article pushing the Alfa Bank claims. “Max” described himself as “a John McCain Republican.” Joffe declined to say whether that was him.

Joffe claimed he did not anticipate holding any job in the Clinton administration and was not offered the top cybersecurity job if Democrats won. Joffe said he had “no possible interest” in joining Clinton's administration.

He denied knowing British ex-spy Christopher Steele and said he "had no firsthand knowledge" when asked if he knew Sussmann met with Steele about Alfa Bank claims.

Joffe also declined to answer which businesses he owns, and whether he knew the identity of a person dubbed "Originator-1," who Durham says collaborated with Joffe on the Alfa Bank claims. It is April Lorenzen of Zetalytics.

Joffe said Neustar has provided DNS data outside the company in the past, including "a set of DNS data that has no terms and conditions around it, and that data is provided to a number of parties including security researchers.” He declined to say whether he believed DNS data is nonconfidential.

Joffe also said, “I take the Fifth,” when asked if he knows Daniel Jones, lead author of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation program who founded the Democracy Integrity Project in January 2017. Tax records show he funded Steele, Fusion, and others.

Court records show Jones was asked by the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2017 to look into Alfa Bank allegations, and his 2018 report concluded that "there was a special relationship between the Trump Organization server and servers associated with Alfa Bank.”

Cybersecurity expert Robert Graham wrote that "the allegation that this proves a secret connect between Alfa Bank and a Trump server is clearly false.”

Joffe said Kirk McConnell is the only person with the Senate committee he could recall.


The special counsel has said Sussmann claimed to another agency, believed to be the CIA, in February 2017 that data he had access to “demonstrated that Trump and/or his associates were using supposedly rare Russian-made wireless phones in the vicinity of the White House.” Durham found "no support for these allegations." Joffe declined to answer whether Neustar provided the Russian phone data to university researchers.

Joffe testified he had gone through chemotherapy and used the drug Prednisone, claiming: “I still have, you know, some effect with memory so, you know, my memory during the period when I was ill, which was from 2012 through 2017.”