L’Affaire Hampshire: Did Rudy Giuliani use a cheating scandal as cover for an illicit medical data operation?
Widely panned as Trump’s pick for “Cybersecurity Advisor” in January 2017, Giuliani has traveled the globe leveraging his title to personally profit from foreign governments. But who paid Giuliani to visit hospitals in New Hampshire and Israel this past spring?
It was a juicy scoop from The New York Post’s Page Six this past June — Rudy Giuliani had cheated on his third wife with a married New Hampshire hospital administrator, prompting her to file for divorce in April. The details centered around a March 29 trip Giuliani took to visit the 25-bed Cottage Hospital, where his alleged lover Dr. Maria Ryan serves as Chief Executive Officer. Local media reported at the time of Giuliani’s visit that he was touring the hospital to learn about it’s cybersecurity program.
The Murdoch-endorsed gossip article served as a convenient red herring for Giuliani. Since named President Donald Trump’s Cybersecurity Advisor in January 2017, Giuliani has consistently abused his role to personally profit from private company and foreign government contracts. Of particular concern is Giuliani’s current role as a cybersecurity consultant for the Government of Ukraine — a country deeply entangled in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation.
Now, further investigation into Giuliani’s visits to New Hampshire in March and April, and Israel in June, suggest the 74-year-old was involved in something with Dr. Ryan of far more consequence than an extramarital affair.
Small hospital, big data
A rural hospital in New Hampshire treating just 1,000 patients per month may seem like an odd place for Giuliani to “learn about cybersecurity”, even with Dr. Ryan’s insistence that Cottage Hospital is “among the first hospitals in the nation to adopt the newest technologies…That’s why we get a lot of attention from people like Rudy Giuliani.”
Local reporting noted Giuliani’s visit was connected to the hospital’s transition from its 15-year-old IBM AS400 system that kept an inexplicable twenty million medical records on site. As Cottage Hospital’s Chief Information Officer Rick Frederick pointed out, the small hospital was also unique in implementing it’s new cloud-based system: “For the size of our facility, we are pretty far ahead,” he said.
Frederick also described the hospital’s data as under constant attack: “In a typical day, monitoring systems might detect as many as 500,000 attempts to scan or probe this trove of confidential information.” Medical records are among the most valuable data hackers can steal. Between 2015 and 2016, the incidence of medical record hacking rose a startling 11,000%.
The New Hampshire Department of Health was the target of a data breach in October 2015 — discovered only four days before the November 2016 election that Clinton won by just .4% in the state. New Hampshire officials later disclosed that the hacker had been a New Hampshire Hospital psychiatric patient who obtained access to the files while working at a public computer in the library of the state’s psychiatric hospital.
Speaking of data breaches…
Two weeks before Giuliani’s NH visit, on March 17, one of the most consequential stories of the Special Counsel investigation broke when Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie came forward. Cambridge Analytica was the data firm led by Steve Bannon and hired by the Trump Campaign to target voters with propaganda during the 2016 election.
Wylie’s documents proved Cambridge Analytica had illegally harvested the Facebook data of over 50 million users and used it to build psychographic profiles of voters. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wylie described the tool he helped Bannon develop as a weapon of psychological warfare:
“Cambridge Analytica sought to identify mental and emotional characteristics in certain subsets of the American population and worked to exploit them by designing them to activate some of the worst vulnerabilities in people, such as neuroticism, paranoia and racial biases,” Wylie said.
The public outcry against Facebook resulted in the company announcing on April 5 that it would no longer pursue a planned medical data research project. According to CNBC, the social media giant had been secretly pitching the project to health organizations, seeking access to U.S. medical records that it could match to user profiles. A company statement explained:
“Last year Facebook began discussions with leading medical institutions…to explore whether scientific research using anonymized Facebook data could help the medical community advance our understanding in this area. Last month we decided that we should pause these discussions so we can focus on other important work, including doing a better job of protecting people’s data.”
The Ukraine and Israel Connections
Two days prior to Giuliani’s visit to Cottage Hospital on March 27, the security consultant met with a delegation of Ukrainian officials in New York City. According to a press release from TriGlobal Strategic Ventures, First Vice Mayor Igor Terekhov traveled to NYC on behalf of Mayor Gennadiy Kernes, a former Party of Regions leader and Giuliani’s primary client in Kharkiv.
The TGSV release described the purpose of the visit was to “study the setup and experience of the Offices for Public Security and Offices for Emergency Management in the states of New York and New Jersey…A separate topic in the meeting was devoted to discussing software development issues related to the United States Centers for Emergency Response.”
It’s presently unknown whether these New York and New Jersey tours occurred. But two days later, Giuliani was joined by three unidentified men in New Hampshire for an overnight stay at Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa — alongside Dr. Maria Ryan.
Giuliani traveled back to New Hampshire again on April 24, four days after announcing his new role as Trump’s personal lawyer in the Special Counsel investigation. Local media reported Giuliani was in the state to attend a New Hampshire GOP fundraiser. It is not known whether Giuliani saw Dr. Ryan during this visit.
Six weeks later in June, Ryan and her daughter Vanessa accompanied Giuliani on a trip to Israel to tour Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Ryan — who has a doctorate from Warren National University, an online school considered a “diploma mill’’ by the feds — was described in a hospital press release as Giuliani’s “partner”. The purpose of Giuliani and Ryan’s visit was described as an update on Hadassah’s management of terror events: “‘I have been here so many times to see the tragic consequences of terrorism,” said Mr. Giuliani.
Hadassah Medical Organization was founded by the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which continues to underwrite a large part of its budget. In 2014, Hadassah was the focus of a national scandal as it struggled to stay open amid a $482 million deficit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time that Hadassah’s problems would demand “attention and resources from the government...‘The public will pay, and we must ensure that the deficit will not return.’”
Those debt problems appear to have turned around. In September 2017, Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin announced Hadassah had pledged to raise $40 million as part of a partnership “in the creation of an international medical cluster in the territory of the Skolkovo Innovation Center.”
Skolkovo is headed by Victor Vekselberg, a Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch whose alleged payments to Michael Cohen after the inauguration are currently the subject of a criminal probe. Cohen began receiving payments from a company affiliated with Vekselberg during the same Spring 2017 period when Giuliani first kicked-off his “cybersecurity” contracts in Ukraine.
Enter A Pro-Israel GOP Mega-Donor…
The medical records system implemented by Giuliani and Cottage Hospital during his March visit to New Hampshire was designed by AthenaHealth. The change meant “AthenaHealth, and no longer the hospital, is responsible for the backup,” according to Fredrick. Giuliani added in a press interview that the new system was “exciting and interesting” and that “AthenaHealth has been very good at this and is aware safety is important.”
It’s unknown who paid for Giuliani’s visit to New Hampshire or for Giuliani and Ryan’s visit to Israel — the hospitals, AthenaHealth, or another party. In May, AthenaHealth was subjected to a hostile takeover by GOP mega-donor and “activist investor” Paul Singer. Singer is also a well-known pro-Israel political fundraiser with a long-established relationship to Giuliani. In 2007, Singer served on the finance committee for Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid. He was subsequently outed as the financier of a shady ballot initiative to change California’s electoral college.
Singer’s relationship with President Trump is a bit more complicated. Singer is financier of the conservative media outlet Washington Free Beacon. He was the person who originally hired Fusion GPS to gather opposition research against Trump during the 2016 election. That research would eventually come to be known as the Steele Dossier. During the election, Singer supported the presidential campaign of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and financed a PAC working to stop Trump from winning the nomination.
But after the election, the two met at a fundraising breakfast on December 7, 2016. Trump later boasted that “the billionaire who was affiliated with the ‘Never Trump’ movement was now a fan…Trump also adopted a more right-wing line regarding Israel. He promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem and appointed his extreme right-wing adviser David Friedman as ambassador.”
The public later learned from Bloomberg that during this same transition period, an Israel-based social media firm named PSY-GROUP had “formed an alliance with Cambridge Analytica”. Bloomberg discovered in their investigation that the firms signed signed an agreement on December 14, 2016 in an effort to win U.S. government work: “FBI agents working with Mueller’s team interviewed people associated with PSY Group’s U.S. operations in February, and Mueller subpoenaed bank records for payments made to the firm’s Cyprus bank accounts.”
In a contract proposal for the U.S. State Department prepared by foreign-owned PSY Group, Cambridge Analytica, and SCL Group, the firm said that it had “conducted messaging/influence operations in well over a dozen languages and dialects” and that it employs “an elite group of high-ranking former officers from some of the world’s most renowned intelligence units.”
No evidence has been found to link Singer to PSY-GROUP or it’s owner Joel Zamel. But a scathing new New Yorker investigation illustrates the ruthless “psycho-terror” tactics Singer deploys in pursuit of his financial objectives. The article features a deep dive into Singer’s year-long campaign to drive AthenaHealth CEO Jonathan Bush to resign. Among the many controversies, documents from Bush’s 2006 divorce that included allegations of verbal and physical abuse were sent to reporters. According to New Yorker reporter Sheelah Kolhatkar:
“Hedge funds, especially activist hedge funds, are established users of private-investigation services…But some private-investigation firms or consultants will do much more for a well-paying client. ‘There are thousands of tiny shops out there, run by former C.I.A. operatives, MI6 guys, former Mossad people, or people on the fringes, who bring the tactics that they learned in the intelligence service to the investigative and corporate world,’ the head of a boutique investigation firm told me. ‘Smaller players who will do whatever it takes.’”
Sam Patten’s cooperation
Last Friday, Sam Patten pleaded guilty to operating as an unregistered foreign agent for the Government of Ukraine, which could be seen as a shot across the bow directed at Giuliani. Patten’s plea revealed he had set up a U.S. LLC in February 2015 with “Foreigner A” — known to be Paul Manafort’s indicted co-conspirator Konstantin Kilimnik. Patten’s client “Foreigner B” is known to be Serhiy Lyovochkin, an Opposition Bloc leader and former client of Paul Manafort. As one of Patten’s uncharged crimes, he illegally funneled Lyovochkin’s money to President-elect Trump’s Inaugural Committee through a “straw purchaser”.
In April, The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand published an investigation focused on now-convicted-felon Patten’s curious connections. It revealed Patten’s years-long relationship with Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL. According to her report, Patten worked out of SCL’s Oregon offices in 2014 on “a beta run of a cutting-edge electoral approach” that included “micro-targeting” during the 2014 congressional cycle. Those technologies were later “adopted by at least one major U.S. presidential candidate.”
In March and April, The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr also published results of her investigation into Patten. Cadwalladr revealed on April 4 that in early 2015, Patten “played a central role” in Cambridge Analytica’s work in Nigeria — work that included hiring Israeli computer hackers to search for “kompromat” on an opposing candidate. Both stories broke directly after Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie came forward and during the same three week window when Kharkiv’s delegation traveled to NYC and Giuliani traveled to New Hampshire.
Friday’s plea deal requires Patten to fully cooperate in Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. When contacted by a reporter with the news, Giuliani’s response was “oh, who’s that? Never heard of him.” Yet independent researchers on Twitter were quick to uncover a picture of Giuliani in April 2015, shaking hands with another Ukrainian client of Patten’s, Mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko — in the background stands Kilimnik. Klitschko also happens to be a current and long-time client of Giuliani’s — working for him on his 2008 election, as an advisor in 2015, and presently on a “security” project for the city of Kiev.
Remember those Spectrum Health pings?
What the parallels between Patten and Giuliani’s foreign-paid activities means is still a fuzzy picture. But it would not be the first time medical data has been suspected in the conspiracy at the heart of Mueller’s investigation. During the election, a team of computer scientists stumbled upon something unexpected while investigating a large volume of unexplained “pings” between Alpha Bank in Russia and a server in Trump Tower. The researchers found:
“The server had been set to accept only incoming communication from a very small handful of IP addresses. A small portion of the logs showed communication with a server belonging to Michigan-based Spectrum Health”.
Spectrum Health, whose owner is married to current Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, claimed they had no relationship with Alpha Bank or Trump Organization. They explained the pings as the result of spam emails sent from a marketing company advertising Trump Hotels. The explanation was rejected by the researchers:
“It’s pretty clear that it’s not an open mail server…These organizations are communicating in a way designed to block other people out.”