A second aide to Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., has been sentenced in a scheme to break into Hassan’s office to obtain and publicly post the personal information of several Republican politicians amid contentious confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The 24-year-old former aide, Samantha Deforest Davis, was sentenced to two years of supervised probation with 200 hours of community service, with a suspended sentence of 180 days in prison. She was ordered to “stay away from [Hassan’s] office to include current and former staff, and to not use Tor or anonymized computer applications,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
Davis was a staff assistant in Hassan’s office from August 2017 until last December. She was fired after Capitol Police discovered her involvement in the so-called “doxxing” effort.
Prosecutors said Davis helped 27-year-old Jackson A. Cosko, another former Hassan aide who has pleaded guilty to five federal offenses (including two counts of making public restricted personal information, and one count each of computer fraud, witness tampering and obstruction of justice).
Prosecutors said that Davis was persuaded by Cosko to “wipe down” Senate computers he had hacked on Oct. 3, 2018, the morning after the break-in. That effort was unsuccessful because another employee was in the office early that morning. Cosko was arrested that same day.
Cosko admitted to using Davis’ keys to get into Hassan’s office the day before, and prosecutors said Davis “understood that Cosko needed the keys to unlawfully enter the senator’s office to access Senate computers” at the time, the DOJ said.
Davis pleaded guilty to the federal charge of aiding and abetting computer fraud, and to the District of Columbia charge of attempted tampering with evidence.
“I own EVERYTHING. … If you tell anyone I will leak it all.”
— Former Democratic aide Jackson Cosko
In June, Cosko was sentenced to four years in prison in the scheme, and was required to turn over the cellphones, computers and other equipment he used. A witness saw him during the break-in and reported it to Capitol Police, the DOJ said.
Among the officials Cosko targeted were five Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Cosko posted the home addresses and phone numbers of GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky — as well as then-Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah — on Wikipedia.
Cosko, prosecutors said, became angry about the senators’ support for Kavanaugh despite sexual assault allegations leveled against the prospective high court justice. Cosko intended to intimidate the senators and their families, according to court records.
At the time of his arrest, Cosko was working as an unpaid intern for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who fired him soon after.
He was previously employed as a computer systems administrator in Hassan’s office — a job that gave him “intimate knowledge of, and broad access to” the computer systems in Hassan’s office, according to court records. But he had been fired from Hassan’s office in May 2018 for failing to follow office procedures.
After the firing from Hassan’s office, Cosko became angry and repeatedly burglarized the office, court records said. He copied gigabytes worth of data, including dozens of user names and passwords belonging to Senate employees and “contact information for numerous sitting U.S. senators,” according to court records.
Records show Cosko sent a threatening email to the staffer the evening he was confronted about the break-in.
“I own EVERYTHING,” Cosko wrote, adding, “If you tell anyone I will leak it all.”
Cosko previously held positions with prominent Democrats including former Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, and with the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Left-wing activists separately targeted numerous other top Republicans amid the Kavanaugh fight. In the wake of his vote to confirm Kavanaugh, for example, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., told Fox News last October that his wife had received a graphic text message with a video depicting a beheading, and that someone had publicly posted the names and addresses of his family members.