Jared Kushner, answering questions about his collusion with the Russians, has said he was demanded in an email, from “Guccifer 400” to pay a ransom of 52 Bitcoins or US President Donald Trump’s controversial tax returns would be released.
Guccifer 400 appears to be an apparent homage to Guccifer 2.0, the malicious hacker or group that intelligence chiefs have fingered as an attribution front for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence directorate - though, not wholly convincingly.
It turned out to be a bit of an empty threat as Kushner, who first perceived the email to be a hoax, did not act on the demand and Trump’s taxes were never released.
The President’s son-in-law, under the instruction of the secret service, informed the message and did not reply in any manner.
“On Oct. 30, 2016, I received a random email from the screen name “Guccifer400,” Kushner said. “This email, which I interpreted as a hoax, was an extortion attempt and threatened to reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 Bitcoin in exchange for not publishing that information.”
“I brought the email to the attention of the US Secret Service agent on the plane we were all traveling on and asked what he thought. He advised me to ignore it and not to reply—which is what I did. The sender never contacted me again.”
Guccifer’s roots run deep
It doesn't seem plausible that this email came from the notorious Guccifer, nor the 2.0 version as both those hackers have been at the front of some pretty serious hacks and information leaks.
Guccifer 2.0 is another homage, to the original who was a 40-something Romanian hacker called Marcel Lazăr Lehel.
Lehel was the one who hacked Sidney Blumenthal, a Hillary Clinton confidant and former aide to President Bill Clinton. The hacker was arrested by Romanian authorities in early 2014.
The 2.0 version has been tied to Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant and political operative who appeared to have foreknowledge about leaked Democratic party emails before their publication by WikiLeaks last year.