Saturday, 5 November 2016

Only days until American's go to the polls in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and eyes turned towards Russia again

This was Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail via Twitter 7 days out from polling day:
It's time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 31, 2016

This is the person who appears to have registered which is the server alleged to have possible links with the Russian-based Alfa Bank co-founded
by billionaire Mikhail Fridman:

Whois details for

Website Title
  Cendyn/ONE | Data Intelligence™ for Hotels and Resorts
Server Type
Response Code
SEO Score
193 (Unique: 133, Linked: 82)
4 (Alt tags missing: 4)
56   (Internal: 44, Outbound: 8)
Whois Record ( last updated on 2016-11-01 )
Registry Domain ID: 123709352_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Update Date: 2011-07-18T04:28:07Z
Creation Date: 2004-06-29T14:41:05Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2021-06-28T14:41:05Z
Registrar:, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:

Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4806242505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID: Not Available From Registry
Registrant Name: Charles Deyo
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: 1515 N. Federal Hwy
Registrant City: Boca Raton
Registrant State/Province: Florida
Registrant Postal Code: 33432
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone:
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email:
Registry Admin ID: Not Available From Registry
Admin Name: Charles Deyo
Admin Organization:
Admin Street: 1515 N. Federal Hwy
Admin City: Boca Raton
Admin State/Province: Florida
Admin Postal Code: 33432
Admin Country: US
Admin Phone: 561-555-3143
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: 

Registry Tech ID: Not Available From Registry
Tech Name: Charles Deyo
Tech Organization:
Tech Street: 1515 N. Federal Hwy
Tech City: Boca Raton
Tech State/Province: Florida
Tech Postal Code: 33432
Tech Country: US
Tech Phone: 561-555-3143
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email:


Alfa Bank has issued a denial:

01 November 2016

Alfa Bank says no connection between Alfa Bank and Trump and any suggestion to the contrary is false —

Earlier today in the US, Slate published an article titled - Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia? Alfa Bank wishes to make clear that there is no connection between Alfa Bank and Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, or the Trump organization. Any suggestion to the contrary by this article is false.

Alfa Bank hired Mandiant, one of the world's foremost US cyber security experts, to investigate and it has found nothing to support the allegations. Mandiant found no substantive contact, email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump Campaign or Organization during its investigation. Mandiant have conducted a deep dive and investigated Alfa Bank's IT systems both remotely and on the ground in Moscow and there was no evidence of notable contact between the alerted domain and Alfa Bank.

Neither Alfa Bank nor its principals, including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, have or have had any contact with Mr. Trump or his organizations. Fridman and Aven have never met Mr. Trump nor have they or Alfa Bank had any business dealings with him. Neither Alfa Bank nor its officers have sent Mr. Trump or his organisation any emails, information or money. Alfa Bank does not have and has never had any special or exclusive internet connection with Mr. Trump or his entities. The assertion of a special or private link is patently false.

Mandiant has made clear to Alfa Bank that the information reporters gave us – given to them by an anonymous cyber group - is inconclusive and does not suggest an exclusive internet connection between Alfa Bank and Trump.

Mandiant's working hypothesis is that the activity the reporters' sources allege was caused by email marketing/spam campaign by a marketing server, which triggered security software. This activity may indeed have been initiated by someone for the purpose of discrediting parties to this traffic.

Commenting on these allegations Mandiant said Mandiant, a FireEye company, has been retained by Alfa Bank to investigate information given to them by various media. The information that has been presented is a list of dates, times, IP Addresses and Domain Names. The list appears to be a scanned copy of a printed log. There is no information which indicates where the list has come from. The list contains approx. 2800 look ups of a Domain Name over a period of 90 days. The information presented is inconclusive and is not evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump Campaign or Organization. The list presented does not contain enough information to show that there has been any actual activity opposed to simple DNS look ups, which can come from a variety of sources including anti-spam and other security software.

As part of the ongoing investigation, Alfa Bank has opened its IT systems to Mandiant, which has investigated both remotely and on the ground in Moscow. We are continuing our investigation. Nothing we have or have found alters our view as described above that there isn't evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump Campaign or Organization.

Founded in 1990, Alfa-Bank is one of the largest private banks in Russia, which offers a wide range of products and operates in all sectors of the financial market, including interbank, corporate and retail lending, deposits, payment and account services, foreign exchange operations, cash handling services, investment banking, and trade finance, as well as other ancillary services to corporate and retail customers.
According to its IFRS Consolidated Financial Statements as of 31 December 2015, the Alfa Banking Group, which comprises Joint Stock Company Alfa-Bank as well as its subsidiary financial companies, had total assets of $31.5 bn, gross loans of $21.7 bn, and total equity of $4.3 bn. Net profit after tax for 2015 amounted to $480 mln.
As of December 31, 2015 the Alfa Banking Group serves around 255,000 corporate customers and 13.6 mln individuals (including 1.9 mln individual customers of PJSC «Baltiyskiy Bank»), while the branch network consists of 745 offices across Russia and abroad, including a subsidiary bank in the Netherlands and financial subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

However, apart from this unsubstantiated allegation, Donald Trump does appear to have longstanding ties with Russia according to The Washington Post on 27 July 2016:

6. On Wednesday morning, CBS's Norah O'Donnell asked Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort if Trump had "financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs." Manafort replied, "That's what he said, that's what I said. That's obviously what our position is."

7. The problem is that Donald Trump has in the past had obvious economic interests in Russia. The Washington Post outlined them in June.

8. A quote in that piece from Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr. — who is also an executive with Trump's business — makes clear how the company in 2008 sought business from wealthy Russians. "In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets," he said at a conference that year, according to news reports. "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."

9. The year prior, Trump said in a deposition that "Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment," and that he planned to "be in Moscow at some point."

10. Donald Jr. also described what it took to do business in the country. "Russia is just a different world," he reportedly said. "Though the legal structure is in place for what we have today, and even 99 percent is covered, that 1 percent not covered could be 100 percent covered over there because it is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who, etc."

11. Our article also delineated a number of other known Trump business links to Russia, including:
* A 1987 trip to Moscow, then still part of the Soviet Union, to find a site for a luxury hotel.
* A 1996 effort to build a condominium complex in the country.
* A 2005 push to convert an old pencil factory into another Trump Tower.
* The 2008 sale of a mansion in Palm Beach to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.
* Partnering with Aras Agalarov, the "Trump of Russia," on a project in Moscow in 2013 that didn't come to fruition.
* Hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, when he still owned it, earning a cut of the money spent to lure it there — including some from Agalarov.

12. Part of the problem for Trump is that he seems to be unusually friendly with Putin.

Donald J. Trump 
Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?

13. As columnist Marcus Hawkins noted on Twitter, Trump has backed away from past assertions that he has a close relationship with Putin.

14. During a Republican debate in November, Trump said that "I got to know him very well because we were both on "60 Minutes," we were stablemates, and we did very well that night."

15. In an interview with a local station in Miami on Tuesday, Trump changed his story, as Hawkins notes. "I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever," he said. Asked if he had any outstanding loans from Russian banks or investors, Trump replied, "Absolutely not. It's ridiculous." It was advantageous in November to seem close to Putin; it is disadvantageous to be seen that way now.
Update: In 2014, Trump said he met Putin and that he spoke "directly and indirectly" with him.

16. Let's loop back to Trump's tweet about how he has "ZERO investments in Russia." He prefaced it with "for the record."

17. There are actual records that could prove his point, as Chris Cillizza pointed out on Tuesday: his tax records.

18. Trump has continually refused to release his tax records, saying that it's because some of them are being audited. A former IRS commissioner we spoke with said that this 1) wasn't prohibitive and that Trump could release the returns that are under audit if he wanted to and 2) he could easily release the older ones that aren't under audit. (Trump says he won't.)

19. Trump has used the lure of someday releasing his tax records as a way of deferring other questions. In May, he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he would reveal how much he paid in taxes only when he released his returns.

20. When Mitt Romney was under pressure to release his taxes in 2012, we'll note, Trump bragged about how he wouldn't hesitate to turn his own over. "I actually think that it's a great thing when you can show that you've been successful, and that you've made a lot of money, that you've employed a lot of people," he said. "I actually think that it's a positive."

21. On CBS on Wednesday, Manafort seemed to largely close the door on the records ever being released. "Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and he will not be releasing them," Manafort said.
Update: During a press conference a few hours later, Trump reverted to his old argument that he would release his taxes once the audit was done.

22. The burden of proof is on those like Will who claim that Trump may have financial links to interests in Russia — a burden that would be very hard to meet without the release of Trump's tax records or other documents detailing the income that Trump has reported.

23. From a political standpoint, that works to Trump's disadvantage, allowing his opponents to raise questions about something that can only be answered concretely by releasing documents he'd like to keep private…..

AP News, 3 November 2016:

Trump has been contradictory when describing his relationship with Putin. He told ABC in July that he had "no relationship with" with the Russian leader and had no recollection of ever meeting him. But several times in prior years, he'd stated the opposite.

"I do have a relationship with him," Trump said in one 2013 interview in Moscow.
The ABC interview in which Trump said he'd "never met" Putin directly contradicted a 2015 interview Trump did with talk-radio host Michael Savage.

Asked point-blank by Savage whether he'd ever met Putin, Trump responded: "Yes. One time, yes. Long time ago."

Throughout the campaign, Trump has repeatedly tapped top advisers with close ties to Russia. Among them: former campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Trump brought on Manafort in March. Manafort, a longtime Republican operative who'd spent recent years advising a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party before its ouster over alleged corruption, and his deputy Rick Gates took over functional control of managing the Trump campaign in June.

In August, The New York Times reported that a hand-written ledger of cash payments made by Ukraine's ousted government listed Manafort as being paid $12.7 million. Ukrainian prosecutors said the payments detailed in the ledger were an effort to obscure bribes.

A few days later, The Associated Press reported that Manafort and Gates had orchestrated a secret Ukrainian lobbying campaign in Washington. Participants said the men had sought to obscure the true backer of the work — Ukraine's pro-Russian ruling party — by routing lobbying funds through a nonprofit front group.
Manafort and Gates denied having been involved in the lobbying. But emails obtained by the AP explicitly showed Gates giving orders to the lobbyists.

Manafort departed the campaign the following day.

Perhaps a more telling concern about the fitness for office of Donald J Trump is the court case alleging rape of a 13 year-old girl which next comes before the court in December 2016.

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