On Thursday, Republican lobbyist and Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy accused an international security consulting firm, Global Risk Advisors, and its executives – two former Western intelligence officials – of “helping to coordinate” email hacks into Broidy’s accounts, as well as distributing the emails to news outlets.
Previously, Broidy had sued the state of Qatar after reporters published details of his private emails demonstrating his business ties and lobbying efforts on behalf of the United Arab Emirates alongside George Nader, a UAE adviser.
The Wall Street Journal, relying on hacked email exchanges, first reported that Broidy, through President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, paid $1.6 million to a Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.
Those emails exposed his payoff to the model, who he reportedly impregnated.
A source who reviewed the contract told CNN that the woman has refused to show proof of the pregnancy. Broidy has admitted to the relationship.
And on Monday the Associated Press published a lengthy account of Nader and Broidy’s lucrative Gulf contracts and anti-Qatar lobbying efforts, often directed at Trump advisers – resulting in Broidy’s legal team issuing a subpoena to the news outlet.
In an amended complaint filed in the Central District of California, Broidy and his attorneys alleged Qatari officials digitally penetrated Broidy’s accounts, allegedly motivated by Broidy’s efforts to damage Qatar over its support for terrorism, and did not act alone.
Global Risk Advisors “introduced [Qatar] to cyber mercenaries in various countries to coordinate technical aspects of the illegal intrusion” into Broidy’s emails, according to the amended filing.
Broidy alleges that a campaign to discredit him was undertaken because he stood in the way of Qatar’s efforts to “ingratiate itself with the White House and end devastating international sanctions because of Qatar’s support for terrorism.” Broidy says he has worked hard to expose Qatar’s alleged ties to terror, including in discussions directly with Trump.
The complaint names Kevin Chalker, a former American intelligence official, and David Mark Powell, a former British intelligence official, as the principals involved in the effort at Global Risk Advisors, according to the filing.
When reached for comment, the firm said it was speaking for both men, and did not contradict the filing’s description of their job history. According to their LinkedIn pages, Chalker previously worked for the US government and Powell worked for the British Ministry of Defense.
However, the complaint does not go into further detail as to why the consulting firm, Chalker, and Powell are specifically implicated in the case or how Broidy and his attorneys came to suspect them.
“We are aware of the baseless allegations made by Mr. Broidy,” Stefanie Schmidt, the general counsel of Global Risk Advisors, wrote in an email to CNN. “They are categorically false, unjustified and we deny them. We will defend ourselves vigorously and will have no further comment at this time.”
Qatar reiterated its past statements, suggesting that Broidy’s lawsuit is meritless.
“Mr. Broidy’s latest false allegation is yet another desperate attempt to divert attention from his own illegal activities,” Jassim Al-Thani, media attaché for Qatar, wrote in an email to CNN.
“His claims are completely fabricated and without merit,” Al-Thani continued. “He attempts to portray Qatar as the aggressor, when he knows full well Qatar does not operate in this manner. The facts show it was Mr. Broidy who conspired in the shadows against Qatar – not the other way around.”
It’s unclear why Qatar would have needed a US security consulting firm to introduce its officials to firms that offer hacking and other offensive intelligence services.
Other third-party countries and individuals could have been behind the hacking of Broidy’s emails in retaliation for his international work with his defense firm Circinus LLC, who could have spoofed a Doha IP address to cover their traces.
However, Broidy is firmly convinced that Qatar and several third parties were behind the hack and distribution to journalists.
According to a person familiar with Broidy’s legal strategy, lawyers for Broidy have sent out more than 40 subpoenas for additional information, ramping up the legal flight.
He additionally hired a team of forensics investigators, according to court filings, who have contributed to the most recent conclusions.
In past filings, J. Luke Tenny of Ankura Consulting told the court that hackers used virtual private networks to hide their online locations but “failed” on two occasions, and the signal pointed back to an unspecified IP address in Doha, unmasking the perpetrators.
“We believe the evidence is clear that a nation state is waging a sophisticated cyber information campaign against me in order to silence me,” Broidy wrote in a statement.