For the past six months we’ve been hearing about a private email server in Trump Tower which was set up exclusively to communicate with Russian interests and a very small number of other entities. We know that the server is at least circumstantially connected rather closely to former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a Russian asset under FBI surveillance. And a fascinating new detail has emerged which has led me to a theory that I think is worth exploring.
Carter Page’s business office is located at 590 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, and has been for some time. Yesterday, Seth Abramson pieced together that 590 Madison Avenue has a private connecting walkway to the adjacent Trump Tower (link). This means Page and Donald Trump had immediate access to each other, and to each other’s offices, if they wanted it. And although it’s always made logistical sense why Trump and his operation would have wanted a private server to communicate with Russian interests, it’s always struck me as odd that even someone as brazen as Trump would do something as suspicious as putting this kind of server in his own building, where he lives, unless he had to.
Then it occurred to me that we don’t really know that the server was in Trump Tower. When I looked back at the original Slate article from October which first revealed evidence of the server (link), the computer scientists didn’t identify the server by physical location, but rather by DNS, which is essentially its internet address. The trump-email.com domain involved was registered to Trump Tower at 725 Fifth Avenue and the Trump Organization. But what if the server, despite being on Trump Tower’s network, was physically located in Carter Page’s office in the adjoining building?
This would have served two purposes. The first is that it would have given a bit of deniability to Trump himself, with the server not being inside the building in which he lived. Whoever registered the domain was dumb enough not to use a proxy to begin with, so this person wouldn’t have had the sense to use the 590 Madison Avenue address on the registration. But what if a smarter person in the Trump Organization did have the sense to keep the server physically out of Trump Tower?
The second purpose is that time and again, this server – despite being registered in the Trump Organization’s name – was circumstantially connected to Carter Page himself. When he traveled to Moscow in the middle of the campaign, traffic spiked on that server the whole time he was gone. To be clear, a server isn’t the kind of computer you typically sit in front of and use; it’s a computer you put on a network for the purpose of handling communications with other computers – so it would make sense there would be more traffic to the server when Page was out of the country for a week. And three days after the server was shut down, he announced he was leaving the campaign (link). In other words, Trump decided the server was too much of a liability at the same time he decided Page was too much of a Russian liability.
So unless those are both incredible coincidences, the server was Carter Page’s baby all along. Whatever Page’s financial relationship to Russia and Donald Trump, that server was the conduit. There’s a widespread belief that the server is at least part of the reason the FBI had a surveillance warrant on Page going back to June. And now that we know Page’s own business office was an adjacent extension of Trump Tower, it only makes sense that the “Trump Tower email server” may have been in his office all along. Contribute to Palmer Report
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report