What’s the deal with Trump and Russia? Here are 5 things you need to know
Honestly, this election could not get any weirder if it tried. But egomaniacs, sexual assault scandals, and fibbing to the American people about shit is sort of normal, unfortunately. What’s not normal is all this talk about Russia’s involvement with the election. And it’s not fake news or something your crazy, left-wing uncle is posting to Facebook in the middle of the night. No, Republican nominee Donald Trump allegedly has a connection to Russia, despite his claims that he does not.
Trump does have at least some connections to Russia. They’re small — like having Russian investors in his business endeavors and people on his team with ties to Russia. He also brought Miss Universe to Moscow, dealing with a Russian businessman back in the day.
I mean, what’s a billionaire from the 1990s to do? Not have ties to fancy Russian people and their money? It’s not great, but it’s to be expected. What’s not expected is that a bunch of computer scientists claims to have found a secret line of communication between a Trump server and Alfa Bank, a Russian bank. It’s complicated and also sort of vague. The group of computer scientists are apparently all well respected in their field and work for top government agencies, but remain anonymous in Slate’s report. No one really knows too many details.
Here’s what we do know.
The alleged connection was found randomly
Apparently, there’s a squad of computer geeks in this country that study malware and cyber security. They all kinda know each other and their work is well respected and all of that, so their insights are worthwhile. This summer, while looking into claims that Russia was messing with the American election, a man using the pseudonym Tea Leaves says he noticed a DNS server lookup from a domain associated with the Trump Foundation and that of the Russian bank. Totally by chance. It was weird, because the communication happened at random, heightened times in the election. And the Russian side didn’t seem to be receiving any other mail or communication other than from the alleged Trump server. It looked to the scientists, who had it reviewed by colleagues and wrote a paper about it, that it was definitely not spam. It was human communication.
At one point, there were New York Times reporters looking into the same thing, and after they questioned Trump and Alfa about it, the servers went kaput. They were then replaced and communication continued in a way that could have happened only if someone had like, called another person and told them where to find them so they could keep doing their top secret emailing.
No one knows what was said
Franklin Foer, who wrote the expose over at Slate thinks it’s worth finding out. On Monday, after the story broke, the FBI said it’s looked into the Trump server and found nothing fishy about its DNS records. Others agree — not that there is nothing going on between the two servers, but that there are lots of explanations for this kind of activity. It could be spam from the Trump server, and it’s possible that the reverse communication is the bank’s server checking to see if the incoming domain is real or not, according a Naadir Jeewa, another computer scientist. He’s published a rebuttal to the Slate piece if you want to get into the nitty gritty tech stuff.
The sum of the rebuttals are pretty much all based in Occam’s razor theory — there are lots reasons that there could have been this kind of activity between the two servers.
Trump kinda loves Russia
I’m not totally into patriotism because it makes me feel weird, but Russia shouldn’t be up in our shit. Yet, Trump seems to take his relationship with Russia very lightly. Let’s even leave this whole secret server communication alone and talk about the fact that Trump is way into Russia. He’s lied about his extensive business dealings there (why? who cares?). He compliments Putin and actually went on state-owned Russian media to blast the United States. And, let’s not forget that he looked into a camera and encouraged Russian hackers to hack into the DNC, which the FBI believes happened.
The FBI believes Russian hackers did leak U.S. emails
There might not be a direct relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia, but Russia is, in a total throwback, all up in our business this election. Many of the Clinton and DNC email leaks have come about because of Russian hackers feeding them to Wikileaks, according to the FBI. Russian hackers are not just targeting Clinton, but old White House officials, like Colin Powell. It’s a big deal. So the Russians are messing with American politics and Trump sort of finds it amusing,
Reality is more boring than the conspiracy theories
Much like Trump, this Russian spy shit feels like a blast from the past. Could this be any more like a Cold War era movie? The real reason Russia matters is because Trump is encouraging Russian hackers and his foreign policies are very pro-Russian, which is something America has been trying not to be. He would be a Russian hack, much like Clinton suggested in the third debate (remember the jabs about being a puppet?)
But the conspiracy theories are more interesting and distracting. I mean, there’s even a new Mother Jones report that Russian spies groomed Trump, and honestly, if his sons didn’t look so creepy and weird, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. But if anyone would be narcissistic enough to think they could like, collude with a foreign power to rule the world just like in a movie… it would be him.
If anything, this is where Trump has led us: smart, educated human beings basically explaining the plot of From Russia, With Love mixed in with The Americans, but with more confusing technology.
There’s only one more week.