A senior aide to US President Donald Trump told Congress this week that someone tried to extort him for 52 bitcoins just before the presidential election last year.
Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner submitted a statement on Monday ahead of a meeting with members of the US Senate, who are investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election. Kushner, a New York real estate scion who is also married to Trump's daughter, Ivanka, flatly denied that the allegations against him and the campaign.
Kushner's statement contained a notable aside, dating back to the end of October, when he is said to have received an email from someone using the moniker "Guccifer400" – a reference to the Romanian hacker who infiltrated the email accounts of several US and Romanian officials, among others.
The person, according to Kushner, threatened to publish information regarding Trump's tax returns – a subject of interest during the campaign given that he was the sole candidate to opt not to release his returns – unless Kushner paid 52 bitcoins, an amount worth roughly $37,000 at then-current prices.
Despite passing along the threat to the Secret Service, Kushner explained, nothing ultimately came of it.
"I brought the email to the attention of a U.S. Secret Service agent on the plane we were all travelling [sic] on and asked what he thought. He advised me to ignore it and not to reply -- which is what I did," he wrote. "The sender never contacted me again."
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.