There are two bombshell reports out today about Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's possible ties to Putin. They are all deeply disturbing.
From Mother Jones, a report that Trump may have been compromised by Russian intelligence as long as five years ago.
In June, the former Western intelligence officer—who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a US firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients—was assigned the task of researching Trump's dealings in Russia and elsewhere, according to the former spy and his associates in this American firm. This was for an opposition research project originally financed by a Republican client critical of the celebrity mogul. (Before the former spy was retained, the project's financing switched to a client allied with Democrats.) "It started off as a fairly general inquiry," says the former spook, who asks not to be identified. But when he dug into Trump, he notes, he came across troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, "there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit."
This was, the former spy remarks, "an extraordinary situation." He regularly consults with US government agencies on Russian matters, and near the start of July on his own initiative—without the permission of the US company that hired him—he sent a report he had written for that firm to a contact at the FBI, according to the former intelligence officer and his American associates, who asked not to be identified. (He declines to identify the FBI contact.) The former spy says he concluded that the information he had collected on Trump was "sufficiently serious" to share with the FBI.
Perhaps this is the information that Harry Reid alluded to in his letter to James Comey. While it's doubtful that the FBI will comment on this, given their decision not to say anything about investigations that might influence elections and all, it should cause everyone to sit back on their haunches and stand down on Trump.
Keep that last bolded part in mind when you read this Slate report about a server established at the Trump organization in 2009 which apparently had communications with Russian servers and not much else. It's also interesting to note that when the New York Times looked into this server, it suddenly went offline and reappeared with a different IP address and DNS identifier.
The researchers quickly dismissed their initial fear that the logs represented a malware attack. The communication wasn’t the work of bots. The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.
The researchers had initially stumbled in their diagnosis because of the odd configuration of Trump’s server. “I’ve never seen a server set up like that,” says Christopher Davis, who runs the cybersecurity firm HYAS InfoSec Inc. and won a FBI Director Award for Excellence for his work tracking down the authors of one of the world’s nastiest botnet attacks. “It looked weird, and it didn’t pass the sniff test.” The server was first registered to Trump’s business in 2009 and was set up to run consumer marketing campaigns. It had a history of sending mass emails on behalf of Trump-branded properties and products. Researchers were ultimately convinced that the server indeed belonged to Trump. (Click here to see the server’s registration record.) But now this capacious server handled a strangely small load of traffic, such a small load that it would be hard for a company to justify the expense and trouble it would take to maintain it. “I get more mail in a day than the server handled,” Davis says.
There's a lot of noise about Paul Manafort swirling around. But it would appear from this report that this is not related to Manafort's relationship to Ukraine or Putin, but would be a direct connection between the Trump Organization and Russia.
There are eight more days left before we're done with this. But for anyone who is undecided, I'd urge them to read both of these reports and consider whether they're really willing to take a risk on the Republican candidate who appears to have deep, secret ties to Russia.
I'm certainly not. And honestly, how can anyone be undecided at this point, anyway?
Update: This statement from Brian Fallon from the Clinton campaign was swift and strong.
“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank," Fallon wrote.
"This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump's ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists."
"This line of communication may help explain Trump's bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin and endorsement of so many pro-Kremlin positions throughout this campaign. It raises even more troubling questions in light of Russia's masterminding of hacking efforts that are clearly intended to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign. We can only assume that federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia as part of their existing probe into Russia's meddling in our elections."
Update 2; The New York Times is reporting that the FBI denies there is evidence of ties to Trump. They minimize the server communications as possible spam, despite experts' disagreement on that.
Take their denial for what it's worth, given their current behavior.