“Grasso, a witness for Sussmann, was a Special Agent with the FBI whose “primary responsibility involved investigating cyber crimes.” He was part of a unit detailed to the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The NCFTA, as Grasso explained, “is a nonprofit entity where nonprofit entity where private sector and law enforcement can come together to collaborate on cyber crime matters; and the FBI unit that I was a part of was detailed to be the FBI component of that project.”
Grasso met Rodney Joffe through the NCFTA. I’ll let Grasso explain the connection:
Q. Do you know a gentleman named Rodney Joffe?
Grasso: I did.
Q. How do you know him?
Grasso: Rodney Joffe is a private sector partner and a friend of mine who I initially met in — somewhere between 2005 and 2010, as I recall.
Q. Did he, from time to time, provide you information or interact with you in assisting on the investigation of FBI investigations?
Grasso: Yes, sir, on a regular basis.
In fact, Grasso had nominated Joffe and others for an FBI award for cyber crime investigation back in 2013 relating to “Butterfly Botnet” (malware described to have reached about four million infected computers).
Overall, Joffe and Agent Grasso had a good personal and professional relationship. And Joffe exploited that relationship to further the Alfa Bank hoax.
In early October 2016 (on or before 10/2/16), Joffe called Agent Grasso and provided some information on the purported ties between the Alfa Bank/Trump Organization. Joffe further informed Agent Grasso that there was an ongoing investigation on this matter – something Agent Grasso had been unaware of up until that point. According to Grasso:
Q. How, if you recall, did Mr. Joffe provide this information to you?
Grasso: I recall that he provided the information to me verbally over the phone.
Q. And when he provided the information to you, without getting into great detail, what did he describe the information as relating to?
Grasso: As I recall, he described the information relating to communications between the Trump Campaign and some entity in Russia.
Q. And coming out of your conversation with Mr. Joffe, did you understand that there was any ongoing investigation into those issues?
Grasso: My recollection is that at the time he advised me that there was an open FBI investigation on the matter.
After that conversation, Agent Grasso sent this e-mail to the FBI Agents handling the Alfa Bank investigation:
Agent Grasso took this information from Joffe despite knowing that Joffe was a confidential human source (CHS) with the FBI – and despite the fact that Joffe didn’t go through his handler to relay this information.