(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced this week that it received 127 pages of records from the Georgia Institute of Technology of communications among four individuals. These records reveal that the individuals, who are mentioned in the Durham probe indictment of Michael Sussmann, worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 2016-2021. The documents also suggest the group was interested in targeting then-Trump campaign adviser Steve Bannon.
Judicial Watch obtained the records through an October 13, 2021, Georgia Open Records Act request for records of communication among Rodney Joffe, April Lorenzen, David Dagon, and Manos Antonakakis.
According to The New York Times:
Mr. Durham used a 27-page indictment to lay out a far more expansive tale, one in which four computer scientists who were not charged in the case ‘exploited’ their access to internet data to develop an explosive theory about cyberconnections in 2016 between Donald J. Trump’s company and a Kremlin-linked bank — a theory, he insinuated, they did not really believe.
The indictment’s “Originator-1” is April Lorenzen, chief data scientist at the information services firm Zetalytics. Her lawyer, Michael J. Connolly, said she has “dedicated her life to the critical work of thwarting dangerous cyberattacks on our country,” adding: “Any suggestion that she engaged in wrongdoing is unequivocally false.”
The indictment’s “Researcher-1” is another computer scientist at Georgia Tech, Manos Antonakakis. “Researcher-2” is Mr. Dagon. And “Tech Executive-1” is Mr. Joffe, who in 2013 received the F.B.I. Director’s Award for helping crack a cybercrime case, and retired this month from Neustar, another information services company.
In a court filing last week, Durham alleged this operation directly spied on Trump tower, Trump’s home, and the Trump White House by exploiting “access to non-public and/or proprietary Internet data.”
The anti-Trump operation used the “assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university who were receiving and analyzing large amounts of Internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract.”
On November 18, 2016, a redacted email address writes on “behalf of Manos Antonakakis” to two Georgia Tech officials in an email titled “Signed DARPA Contract:”
Please send to Michael the signed contract for their records.
On November 21, 2016, Ashley Williams, a Georgia Tech contracting officer, replies:
Attached is a copy of the new award for your records. Please note the contract is subject to publication restrictions identified in the DD 254. I’m actively working with AFRL [likely Air Force Research Laboratory] to revise the DD 254 to clarify that fundamental research is excluded from the publication restrictions. Although we’ve signed the contract award and I have to defer project initiation until the publication restrictions are resolved by the AFRL sponsor.
Let me know if you have any questions.
On August 2, 2016, Antonakakis writes to Danielle Gambino and Keromytis, Angelos, a DARPA employee:
The subs and I, would like to have the permission to begin spending against the project from August 15th. This is the date when students needs to be hired [as graduate research assistants], so we can execute against the goals we have set in the [statement of work] this year.
UNC, GT and UGA would require an acknowledgment from you (or DARPA) that we are allowed to do that. I guess, once we are done negotiating the contract we will have to have as an effective start date the August 15th. If we cannot do that, it appears that it will complicate things for all three schools, as we cannot immediately hire the students necessary that will execute against the set milestones.
Please let me know how you think we should resolve this issue.
At 2:55 p.m. Angelos replies, “I’m ok with that, but I seriously doubt the contracting officer will agree.”
At 3:16 p.m. Gambino also replies:
As usual, Angelos is correct!
Working with contracting to authorize pre-award work can take a while and typically is not allowed until closer to contract award. Although I certainly appreciate your eagerness to start working, we are at the very start of the contracting process – this is really way too early for this type of request. (The contract specialists haven’t even been assigned yet.)
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any other questions.
On January 9, 2017, a DARPA employee, Kelly McLaughlin, follows up with Antonakakis. She writes:
DARPA put $153,138 on the Georgia Tech Transparent Computing (TC) contract back in October, 2016 to cover the costs proposed in the attached SOW. The SOW asked for 0.83 month of your academic salary, salary for one Research Engineer, David Dagon, and funds for four graduate student research assistants. Were the proposed grad student costs supposed to cover UNC grad students or Georgia Tech grad students? The SOW shows them as Georgia Tech students.
Please let me know if these funds were supposed to cover UNC. If so, the TC BFM, Laurisa Goergen, will reach out to the TC admin POC for Georgia Tech to see what, if anything, can be done at this point.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Emails indicate that Neustar employees may have visited Georgia Tech to collaborate with Antonakakis. On May 27, 2016, Atreya Mohan from Neustar writes in an email with the subject line “Introducing Peter Burke:”
Just wanted to introduce you to Peter (our SVP Engg and Operations).
Peter. We contact Manos on his gmail account for consulting purposes and his Georgia Tech email address for interactions that relate with the university (example: sponsorship etc)”
It was great to meet you today – it is very interesting work that you do and I see great opportunities to collaborate with you.
I would like to try to figure out a time to come and spend more time with so that you can continue my education 🙂
I am guessing you are based in Atlanta?
Antonakakis writes that evening:
Many thanks for the intro. Peter, the pleasure was all mine!
Yes, you should come and visit us. I would suggest sometime in September, when the semester starts and my students are back from their internships in the bay area. You are more than welcome to visit sooner, but it will be just me and my three postdocs.
The Neustar team is always welcome to visit my lab. Anytime you, Rodney, Brian or anyone else want to visit.
Antonakakis responds to this chain again on July 14, 2016, writing:
By now all of you should be aware of the great news from DARPA. We have a 5 year long collaboration ahead of us, so I think it would make sense for the Neustar team to visit Atlanta and my lab.
How is the week of August 15 looks like for you? Mine is completely open. Perhaps, we should schedule the visit then?
In an email to Antonakakis on January 29, 2017, Dagon writes:
The Russians are killing spies with knowledge of the dossier materials:
Oh, and Trump purged the National Security Council (removing General Dunford) and put Steve Bannon (his PR guy) on the NSC:
My guess: The purged NSC will now say that Russia has given us great intel on ISIS, and that we should lift sanctions now that Russia is helping. (The public will have no way to judget [sic] this.)
All this to protect Trump from the dossier materials.
Antonakakis replies the same day, “What the [f*ck] is going on? Can you please explain why GOP is not doing something?”
He then writes again a few minutes later:
Some in the GOP knows what’s up (Graham, McCain), but most are all too happy to have their narrow, specific agendas advanced (e.g., removing social security, ACA/Obama-care repeal, more tax cuts for companies, etc.) They put party ahead of country, in short.
In 2018 the Senate (and maybe the House) may flip, and there will then be real investigations (but again, party will be ahead of country, as Democrats look into corruption for narrow purposes).
Now that the Russians are killing people with knowledge of the dossier, we can hope for a defector who gets to a non-US embassy in Moscow.
An August 25, 2016, email from Joffe to Antonakakis, Dagon and Lorenzen indicates a possible interest in investigating Steve Bannon. The subject line is “To be added….” Joffe writes: “They think he may have some baggage… ;-)” A link to a Washington Post opinion piece is included.
“Was the Defense Department’s DARPA funding information misused by the Clinton campaign to spy on the Trump White House?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The emails highlight that the ‘tech’ experts implicated in the Durham indictment were very much interested in the fake dossier used to smear President Trump.”