I honestly had not heard anything about this, but wow.
On Monday, a Louisiana private investigator pleaded guilty to misusing Donald Trump’s social security number, as he repeatedly attempted to crack into Trump’s federal tax returns, before the election last year.
According to the Associated Press:
Jordan Hamlett, 32, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine following his guilty plea in federal court.
Authorities have said Hamlett failed in his attempts to get Trump’s tax information through a U.S. Department of Education financial aid website.
Court documents show Hamlett used Trump’s information, including his social security number, to open up a federal student aid account (because Trump is so going back to school, now) online. After establishing a password and account, he then tried to go through the IRS’ data retrieval tool, in order to get the president’s tax information.
Sneaky. But it didn’t work.
“The defendant made six separate attempts to obtain the federal tax information from IRS servers, but he was unsuccessful,” says the document. It doesn’t specify how much of Trump’s tax information could have been retrieved with the online tool.
Hamlett, a Lafayette resident, was indicted in November 2016. His trial had been scheduled to start this week, but the judge originally assigned to the case died on Saturday after a brief illness. U.S. District Court Judge John deGravelles, who inherited the case, didn’t immediately schedule Hamlett’s sentencing hearing.
The defense attorney for Hamlett, Michael Fiser, has a really unique take in defending his client.
He’s arguing that his client didn’t have any “intent to deceive” with his actions. He was just really curious, and wanted to see if he could actually gather any of Trump’s information from the government website.
Probably the worst defense ever.
“We felt like, under the circumstances, it was time to accept full responsibility and move forward to get closure,” Fiser said.
Federal agents confronted Hamlett two weeks before last November’s election and questioned him in a Baton Rouge hotel lobby. At the time, the agents didn’t know if Hamlett had been successful, and they feared a public release of Trump’s tax returns could influence the election, according to a transcript of court testimony earlier this year.
It’s definitely been a hot topic.
Trump, unlike any president since Jimmy Carter, has refused to release his tax returns, prompting many to wonder what he fears would be revealed about his business dealings, if the information was to be made public.
With the ongoing Russia probe, speculation has been that a peek at those returns could reveal a lot of financial ties to Moscow.
Treasury Department Special Agent Samuel Johnson testified in March that Hamlett immediately took credit for his “genius idea” to seek Trump’s tax returns from the financial aid website.
“At that time, Anonymous had been established as people that have released some of President Trump’s personal identifying information and things of that nature,” Johnson testified.
Judge James Brady had been asked by federal investigators to bar Hamlett’s attorney, Fiser, from attempting to paint this picture of his client as a hacker with a heart, a “white hat” hacker, who was simply trying to test security flaws on the government system.
Brady, who passed away last Saturday at a Baton Rouge hospital had already ruled that the defendant couldn’t claim good intent as a defense.
Fiser said Hamlett had tried to call and notify the IRS about the flaws last September, on the same day he tried to electronically access Trump’s tax records.
Fiser said Hamlett liked to test security systems for weaknesses in his spare time and would notify system administrators if he found a system vulnerable to a security breach. Hamlett once discovered a security flaw that allowed for public access to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office’s “raw” reports on open investigations and exposed personal information about police officers.
“Hamlett tipped the sheriff’s office to the flaw and was met with thanks and appreciation, not an arrest,” his attorney wrote in a recent court filing.
But he wasn’t trying to get to very personal information about an individual citizen.
After his initial indictment, Hamlett apparently couldn’t help himself, and ended up getting arrested again.
This go around, he violated the terms of his pretrial release by hacking into a man’s email and social media accounts, at the request of his wife.
Yeah. Somebody suspected cheating.
He was arrested again in August for that violation.