‘What more evidence do you need?’: MSNBC panel explains Trump campaign’s backchannel communication with Russian bank
MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes on Tuesday revisited one of the strangest stories of the 2016 presidential campaign — the curious electronic communication between a Trump Organization computer and Russia’s Alfa Bank.
“About a week before the 2016 election, journalist Franklin Foer published an explosive story in Slate on suspicious web traffic between a domain tied to the Trump Organization and a major Russian bank,” Hayes noted. “The bank and the Russian campaign both denied report, so provocative and the data behind it so murky, that a lot of people including us at ‘All In’ decided to keep our distance.”
“Now, almost two years later, with the mystery of whether the Trump campaign criminally conspired with Russia still unsolved, the New Yorker is revisiting the story with an extensive investigation into that cryptic web traffic,” Hayes explained. “Consulting with experts who ruled out almost every benign explanation for context between a Trump server and a Russian bank.”
“There was a whole series of suspicious, very circumstantial pieces of evidence and data that suggested it was a covert communication channel,” explained Franklin Foer, who broke the original story.
Hayes drilled down on one “mysterious” aspect of the scandal.
“So The New York Times is reporting on the story, they contact the Alfa Bank, the Moscow bank, the [Trump organization] domain gets shut down after The Times contacted Alfa Bank’s representatives, but before the newspaper contacted Trump,” Hayes noted. “That is pretty weird.”
“I mean, what more evidence do you need?” asked The Atlantic‘s Natasha Bertrand. “It’s very, very obvious.”
“And it’s really Occam’s Razor here, the fact we’ve still not been able to rule out the idea that was a covert communication channel, two years after the fact, that no one has come forth with a plausible explanation for why this is happening, why it’s one of three organizations communicating with the Trump server in the months leading up to the election is completely remarkable,” she noted.
Bertrand suggested the lack of interest in Foer’s story, “just shows the lack of imagination, really, that we were operating with, in the months leading up to the 2016 election.”
She cited the Steele Dossier as another story that seemed incredible at the time, but that we have been revisiting ever since it was first reported.