An article questioning whether a Trump mail server was secretly communicating with Russia quickly fell apart Monday after security experts, journalists and the FBI weighed in.

The article from Slate, entitled “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?,” discussed research from numerous computer scientists and the eventual allegation from a renowned DNS expert that the business server in question was covertly conversing with Alfa Bank – Russia’s largest private commercial bank.

“The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive,” Paul Vixie told Slate. “This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project.”

The Clinton campaign, potentially aware of the story’s impending publication, immediately began spreading news of Trump’s alleged Russian ties across social media.

Sam Biddle, journalist for The Intercept, noted soon after that his news outlet and at least 5 others had passed on the story upon deciding that “it didn’t add up.”

Even as Clinton pinned the allegations to her Twitter profile, security experts, the vast majority opposed to Trump, began dismantling the story piece by piece.

Former GCHQ operator Matt Tait, who regularly analyzes breaking security news under the handle @pwnallthethings, demystified the story in a series of tweets.

Naadir Jeewa, an employee at DevOps consulting group “The Scale Factory,” noted the “secret server” was actually run for Trump by Cendyn, a hotel marketing company.

Robert Graham, another renowned security expert, similarly debunked the claim in a post on his blog.

“The response from the Trump campaign is overwhelmingly the most logical explanation,” Graham writes. “Trump hotel business outsourced marketing campaigns, who created the domain and setup (through Listrak) the servers.”

“It’s Cendyn who controls the servers, and not the Trump campaign. It’s unbelievable that the Trump campaign would even have access to those servers, much less be using them. Far from being ‘secret” or ‘private,’ this [sp] servers are wide open and obvious.”

According to a New York Times article released shortly after the Slate piece, the FBI had been aware of the allegations for weeks but found nothing of interest upon investigation.

“F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank,” the Times writes. “Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 ‘look-up’ messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring.”

“But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.”

Given how quickly the story disintegrated, it remains unclear whether or not the Clinton camp will face any lasting damage in the remaining days of the election season.


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