Who is Dimitri Simes? He is the president and CEO of the Washington D.C. think tank, Center for National Interest (CNI). He came from the former Soviet Union in the ’70s and has been around Washington ever since. He advertises himself as a Russia policy expert, but definitely lands on the Kremlin side of the discussions.
Early in 2016, the Donald Trump campaign was short on foreign policy people. Trump turned to his son-in-law Jared Kushner to remedy the situation. That was when Kushner found Simes. Ivanka Trump’s husband to this day has continued to turn to Simes for advice about Russia. Kushner’s questionable adviser knew the Russian spy Maria Butina and has frequently returned to his homeland.
Former CNI executive director and current board member of CNI Paul Saunders said, POLITICO reported:
‘I think what is in the report is very clear. They did not find evidence that he or the center were involved in passing any messages back and forth between the campaign and Russia. More than that, the report states that he advised the Trump campaign against hidden contacts with Russia.’
Former vice president Joe Biden adviser and head Pentagon official specializing in Russia and Ukraine for President Barack Obama, Michael Carpenter, said that Simes is not the pragmatic foreign policy realist he pretends to be:
‘It’s very transparent what his agenda is. He is completely pro-Kremlin and always has been.’
President emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and former senior Defense and State Department official Leslie Gelb has known Simes since the ’70s. Gelb said this about Simes:
‘(His) body of work belies those who portray him as a secret Russian agent.’
Another individual who knows Simes said that his actions came more from being a wannabe rather than having a formal Moscow relationship:
‘He’s the ultimate realist. He’s only working for himself.’
Simes wrote in 2017:
‘(A)ny responsible U.S. government should want to normalize the relationship with Moscow. The objective should not be to become allies or friends, neither of which is possible or advisable.’
During his investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that there was nothing saying that Kushner sourced Simes due to his Kremlin links. However, he did use his position of Trump campaign adviser to influence Kushner toward Moscow.
A Trump campaign adviser who worked with Simes said:
‘Jared was genuinely eager to cultivate relationships with foreign policy people. He was having a hard time early on when foreign establishment was horrified by what Trump was doing. And he recognized in Dmitri someone who had serious foreign policy credentials and was sympathetic to the candidate.’
This individual said this about Simes:
‘A trait I observed with the true-believing Trump people is that they have this very bitter, resentful outlook on the world. Dmitri fit into that mold. He also saw that Trump was willing to buck a lot of conventional wisdom on Russia. I think Simes found Trump as much as the campaign found him.’
The adviser continued saying that Simes found Trump’s attitude “maddening:
‘So he tried to take Trump’s intuitions and turn them into something coherent.’