- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2019

The Department of Justice has corroborated a report by CrowdStrike, a private security firm hired by the Democratic National Committee, that concluded Russian hackers were responsible for breaching the DNC prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential race, federal prosecutors revealed Thursday.

Attorneys prosecuting the government’s case against Roger Stone, President Trump’s former campaign adviser, made the admission in a court filing entered in response to defense lawyers recently claiming that the Justice Department has failed to “independently verify” CrowdStrike’s findings.

“That statement is incorrect,” replied Jessie K. Liu, the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

“The government produced the CrowdStrike reports because the Indictment in this case referenced, as background, CrowdStrike’s statements about the DNC hack,” she wrote. “Stone’s statement that the government has no other evidence is not only irrelevant to this proceeding but is also mistaken. The government accordingly wishes to correct any misimpression.”

Hired by the DNC in May 2016, CrowdStrike reported the following month that Russian hackers had compromised Democratic computers and stolen a trove of sensitive data subsequently leaked online later in the race by outlets including the WikiLeaks website and pseudonymous Guccifer 2.0 internet persona. The Justice Department has since filed an indictment charging Viktor Netyksho and 11 other officers of the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency, with related crimes.

Mr. Stone, 66, was separately charged in January after prosecutors alleged that he interfered in the government’s attempt to investigate Russian involvement in the race. Prosecutors referenced the CrowdStrike report in their indictment charging Mr. Stone, prompting his lawyers recently to raised questions about the firm’s findings and their relationship to the government’s case.

“Perhaps the Russians hacked the DNC. Perhaps, the Russians stole the data out of the DNC computers. But maybe they didn’t,” Mr. Stone’s lawyers argued June 14. “If the government fails to prove that WikiLeaks received the DNC data from the Russian state; then there is no probable cause that Stone participated in or aided in the hacking, stealing or dissemination of the DNC’s data or any Russian state involvement for that matter.”

“Russia’s role in the DNC hack is not material to the eighteen findings of probable cause that Stone appears to be challenging. Nor does it bear on the charges at issue in this case—making false statements to Congress, obstruction of Congress and witness tampering,” prosecutors replied this week. “The government, therefore, has not produced in discovery to Stone all of the evidence gathered in the Netyksho investigation.”

Grant Smith, a lawyer representing Mr. Stone, referred to the defense’s previous filings when reached for comment by The Washington Times.  

Mr. Stone, a longtime political consultant, has known the president for decades and advised his election campaign in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his trial is scheduled to start in November.

Russia has previously denied hacking Democratic systems during the 2016 race.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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