An ex-KGB agent says that ex-President Donald Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987, around the time that Trump ran a series of newspaper ads in which he complained about U.S. alliances — complaints that fit right in line with Russian efforts to destabilize Western coalitions. The ex-agent, Yuri Shvets, made his revelation to journalist Craig Unger in connection to the new book, American Kompromat, which was released late last month. As journalist Jonathan Chait summarizes, an “asset is somebody who can be manipulated, as opposed to somebody who is consciously and secretly working on your behalf.”
As Shvets put it, discussing Trump:
‘In terms of his personality, the guy is not a complicated cookie, his most important characteristics being low intellect coupled with hyperinflated vanity. This makes him a dream for an experienced recruiter.’
As Chait summarizes, Shvets told Unger that “the KGB cultivated Trump as an American leader, and persuaded him to run his ad attacking American alliances.” That’s a pretty direct allegation of direct cooperation between an eventual president of the United States and Russian intelligence services. Shvets added as follows:
‘The ad was assessed by the active measures directorate as one of the most successful KGB operations at that time. It was a big thing — to have three major American newspapers publish KGB soundbites.’
Trump has repeatedly pushed Russian government-aligned talking points in the time since those newspaper ads, which apparently cost some $100,000. He repeatedly refused to acknowledge the seriousness of Russian cyberattacks against U.S. interests to the point that he occasionally refused to even openly and unequivocally accept the fact that Russia was behind the operations in the first place. Instead, he prioritized complaining about the “Russia hoax,” which was one of his descriptions for the Russia investigation looking into his own team’s ties with Russian operatives.
Among other examples, Trump also glossed over Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula with his glib insistence that Russia should be let back into the G7 group of world leaders, which would be G8 with Russia onboard. The Crimean invasion underpinned the country’s original dismissal from the group. Chait pointedly observes that Russia was probably constrained from getting more out of their apparent cultivation of Trump as an asset by his sheer incompetence. He’s more of a brash (but still dangerous) egomaniac than some kind of shrewd schemer. Nevertheless, the threat remains — Trumpism is apparently connected through yet another thread to Russian government ambitions.