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In-Depth Interview: Reporter Jason Leopold Discusses His Buzzfeed Report on Crowdstrike Consultant

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Buzzfeed‘s investigative reporter Jason Leopold returns to the podcast for a lively exchange about his recent profile of Crowdstrike consultant Robert Johnston.Leopold is a prolific user of the Freedom of Information Act, and we begin by noting that Rachel Maddow recently cited his document requests related to Gen. Mike Flynn (ret) and his tenure at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Our main focus is this article that Leopold published on November 8, the first profile of Robert Johnston, the Crowdstrike consultant who was assigned to investigate the reported hack of DNC servers, and who quickly asserted that Russian operatives were responsible.  Leopold deserves credit for being the first reporter to identify and report on Johnston, and PBC raises questions about the framing of the profile, which is built on the unproven intelligence “assessments” that Russia was responsible.

Responding to former NSA technical director Bill Binney’s theorem that DNC data was stolen by a leaker, not a hacker, Leopold says he doesn’t agree with Binney, and cites Binney’s former colleague and fellow whistleblower, Tom Drake, who dissented from Binney’s July memo for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Leopold acknowledges the lack of public evidence, and agrees that skepticism is warranted; he underscores that his article was a profile of a key figure in the story, and says he did ask Johnston about Binney’s case for an “insider” but did not include it in his report.

After hearing the comments of listener Kyle Keilman–who declares his deep respect for Leopold but calls this report “garbage”–Leopold is offended, but promises to keep reporting on this story and to seek the evidence we are all looking for.