For years, former President Donald Trump has been accused of working with Russia secretively before and during his presidential campaign. There has been speculation about whether Trump was communicating with Alfa Bank, which is based in Russia.
There have been ongoing charges, accusations, and other lawful proceedings regarding the accusations. Multiple cybersecurity professionals had their findings on Trump’s communication with Russia sent to the FBI. It remains to be seen what the research determines.
The history of Donald Trump and Alfa Bank
In 2016, an anonymous scientist claimed that he found evidence that the Trump Organization, which is based in New York, was in communications with the Russian bank. The scientist reportedly noticed in July 2016 that Alfa Bank was irregularly pinging a U.S. server that was registered to the former president’s organization.
Pinging usually consists of one party testing and verifying the IP address of another party. The bank and the Trump Organization were involved in some type of communication, the scientist claims.
The anonymous scientist is well respected in the cybersecurity world, as well as his colleagues, and they all reportedly shared their findings, according to The New Yorker. As the cybersecurity professionals continued their research on the activity between the bank and the Trump Organization, he found that the irregular activity wasn't a malware attack from Russia.
The activity was normal communication between the two parties during their respective business hours. The professionals claim that the specific server that was under the Trump Organization was mainly communicating with Alfa Bank’s server. It was specifically designed not to communicate with other servers around the world.
Among the various interviews Slate did in 2016, various cybersecurity professionals concluded that the activity between the two parties was purposely secretive. The reports likely weren't fake. Trump continued his presidential campaign at that time. There were many reports surrounding his campaign that he was supposedly in contact with Russian parties. Hillary Clinton's campaign used the researchers' reports while she was running for president under the Democratic party against Trump.
There’s still uncertainty surrounding the emails.
In 2019, the FBI stated that the interactions between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization were likely just the result of a third-party firm sending out marketing emails that were under a registered domain of the Trump Organization. The four researchers who found the data on the two parties have faced legal battles, including a lawsuit by Alfa Bank.
The Trump administration appointed John H. Durham to be special counsel to investigate the accusations. , Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer, in September for lying to the FBI. Durham claimed that the cybersecurity lawyer would report the four researchers' findings to the FBI, and say that he wasn’t a client for anyone, according to The New York Times.
Durham would provide evidence, where Sussmann was representing Rodney Joffe, one of the four researchers. Sussmann refutes the indictment saying that he was representing Joffe but only him and not the Democratic party. The cases are still continuing.