Capitol Hill Intern Charged with Witness Tampering, Worked for Democratic Senators

By - October 18, 2018
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A Democratic congressional worker or intern was arrested on Oct. 3, accused of posting the home address and other personal information of at least one Republican senator on Oct. 2, in the midst of the hearing about sexual assault claims against Brett Kavanaugh.

According to the US Capitol Police, 27-year-old Jackson Cosko has been charged with making public restricted personal information, witness tampering threats in interstate communication, unauthorized access of a government computer, identity theft, unlawful entry and second-degree burglary.

Fox News reported that Cosko had worked as an intern for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). He also worked for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A page on Linkedin with Cosko’s name described him as a Cybersecurity Graduate Student and Democratic Political Professional.

It is believed that Cosko snuck into the offices of Sen. Hassan after 10 PM on October 2 and used an aide’s computer to log into the system. Jackson Lee’s office told the media that Cosko had worked in her office for two months, but has been fired.

Crime Occurred in Midst of Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Hearings

During the sexual assault hearings regarding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the personal information of Sens. Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch were posted on their Wikipedia pages. All three of the senators stated during the hearing that Kavanaugh was innocent, and Graham said during the hearing that the judge had nothing to apologize for. Other reports stated that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home addresses in Washington DC and Kentucky were added to his public Wikipedia page.

The criminal complaint also stated that the Wikipedia page for an unnamed US senator was edited to add statements such as, “He dares call an investigation for me?’ and “I am the Golden God!’

The purposeful publication of the personal information was caught at first by a Twitter bot that checks for any changes made to Wikipedia entries for anyone in the US Congress. The bot account deleted the tweets later because the edits had the senators’ personal information. The bot showed that whoever had posted the information did it from a House of Representatives computer.

The home addresses of the senators were correct, but the phone numbers were inaccurate.

Cosko was discovered by aides in early October working on a computer in an office on Capitol Hill that did not belong to Jackson Lee. He was arrested at his house in Washington DC the next day.

According to his Linkedin page, Cosko has been working on his master’s of engineering degree from George Washington University in cybersecurity policy and compliance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and political science.

Cosko Alleged Made Threats to Witnesses

A witness told the Capitol Police that he had seen Cosko in Hassan’s office without permission late at night on Oct. 2. The witness said that he confronted the man, and Cosko typed a few keys on the keyboard, grabbed something from the desk and left the office. The staffer told the media that the computer Cosko was on was logged into the account of another staff member.  Later, the witness reported he received a threatening email from Cosko stating that ‘I own everything. If you tell anyone, I will leak it all. Emails signals conversations gmails. Senators children’s health information and socials. Investigators thought that ‘socials’ was a reference to social security numbers.

Unfortunately for the accused, it is reported that he left a long trail of evidence in his DC apartment. In the federal charging document, it states that he had written reminders to himself to burn aliases, wipe down computers, backup all files and mail backup. The notes were found next to a tray of cocaine when the federal search warrant was executed.

In addition, police found several encrypted data storage devices in his apartment that they have not yet been able to get into. There was a note beside them that said ‘contest of who to dox next.’ Prosecutors believe that Cosko may have gotten personal information about other legislators on Capitol Hill and could have mailed it to himself or others.

The federal charging document also states that not only is Cosko charged with doxxing content over the Internet of US senators. He also directly committed in person burglary in a US Senate office. The prosecutors believe that he may have been stealing other information or using his illegal access to a Senate computer for other criminal reasons. The document noted that the defendant was lucky that he was discovered by an unarmed staffer rather than a Capitol Police Officer.

The extortionate threats to the witness are also very serious, the document continues. The threats were sent to the Senate staffer soon after the confrontation in Hassan’s office. He threatened to not only reveal private and personal information about a senator’s child, he also said that his theft included ‘everything,’ which suggested that he has a large collection of information and documents that belong to the senator or her staff. The federal investigation has not yet determined if Cosko actually stole documents or information from this particular senator. But the information would probably cause harm to the community, and its use or destruction would be defined as obstruction of justice.

If he is convicted on all charges, Cosko could receive up to 33 years in prison. He will next appear in federal court in late October.