When briefing the news media on surveillance issues throughout the 2016 campaign, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referenced a recent story published by Circa News in which it was learned that some U.S. intelligence officials were concerned that leaks about sensitive intelligence gathered in the investigation into alleged Russian efforts to influence last year's elections were spread through group briefings back in January 2017.
WATCH | Sean Spicer cited Executive Order 12333, which granted the Obama administration the ability to expand which employees gain unfettered access to raw data stored by the NSA.
What's the deal with Trump Tower and a Russian bank?
Since Circa's initial report, there have been a series of developments involving the intelligence community and President Trump. On Wednesday, Circa's national security correspondent Sara Carter learned that L. Jean Camp, an Indiana University professor, raised concerns about a possible connection between Trump and a Russian bank.
The alleged communication between a commercial email server registered at Trump’s office in New York City and a server at Alfa Bank in Russia were subsequently published on Reddit, a social media forum, and shared on Camp's personal website.
They quickly became grist for a series of stories suggesting there may have been a secret channel of communication between one of the largest private commercial banks in Vladimir Putin’s country and Trump’s campaign.
The FBI has since, however, said that it has found no evidence of criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 election.
According to Camp, she brought up the initial concerns about a possible connection between a Russian bank and Trump because she thought the FBI and the news media did not give enough attention to the data that she had surfaced.
A political hoax
The mysterious communications brought forward by Camp actually turned out to be the work of a hacker trying to create a political hoax, Circa learned from Alfa Bank, which has asked the U.S. Justice Department for help solving the mystery.
Alfa believes that it was the victim of cyber spoofing in which an unidentified person or persons created the appearance of a backdoor communication channel between Moscow and America’s 45th president.
Alfa Bank has insisted since media stories began appearing last fall about the computer communications -- known as Domain Name Server lookups -- that it has never had a relationship to Trump or any of his companies and that any computer connections between the two parties’ computers were innocuous. The resumption of the computer pings started last month, and Alfa’s cybersecurity experts traced evidence that the activity was actually being spoofed -- or hacked --through a third party from a masked computer address inside the United States, the source said.
WATCH | For more news you need, check out Circa 60.