The FBI is examining why a computer server for a Russian bank led by oligarchs with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin had a disproportionate interest in reaching a server used by the Trump Organization during the US presidential campaign. CNN reported on Thursday that last summer a computer server owned by the Russia-based Alfa Bank “repeatedly looked up the contact information for a computer server being used by the Trump Organization — far more than other companies did, representing 80% of all lookups to the Trump server.” Slate and The New York Times first reported on the unusual server activity, which was akin to looking up someone’s phone number thousands of times. The Times reported on October 31 that the FBI examined the server activity and “ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.”
The Intercept reported later that the computer analysts who had first noticed the unusual server activity did not respond to questions about “how they can be sure that the majority of DNS look-ups for Trump’s email server originated from Alfa Bank, when much of the data they collected didn’t even include DNS look-ups from IPs described in their own paper.”
“The simplest plausible explanation for all of this: The Trump Organization owns a bunch of expensive, obnoxious spam servers that churn out marketing emails for its expensive, obnoxious hotels,” The Intercept said.
But CNN’s reporting indicates that the FBI has not dropped the subject and is still examining the activity as part of its counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in the US election.