When Donald Trump leaves the NATO summit later this week, he’ll be heading to Helsinki, Finland, for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since he was elected, Trump has been reluctant to criticize Putin or the Kremlin for anything, be it Russian interference in the 2016 election or the targeted killing of individuals with a dangerous nerve agent in Great Britain. Why exactly does Trump seem to always withhold being critical of Russia or Putin?
Perhaps, Jonathan Chait speculates in a provocative new article appearing in New York, it’s because the American head of state is actually an asset of Russian intelligence and has been since as far back at 1987:
“As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.”
It may be tempting to dismiss such a suggestion as just a ridiculous conspiracy theory, but it’s worth at least considering some of the evidence Chait offers.
Could the key to the Trump-Russia riddle be as simple as blackmail? Yes, it could:
“Russian intelligence gains influence in foreign countries by operating subtly and patiently. It exerts different gradations of leverage over different kinds of people, and uses a basic tool kit of blackmail that involves the exploitation of greed, stupidity, ego, and sexual appetite. All of which are traits Trump has in abundance.
“Trump’s tolerance for risk has always been matched by careful control over information. He maintains a fanatical secrecy about his finances and has paid out numerous settlements to silence women. The combination of a penchant for compromising behavior, a willingness to work closely with criminals, and a desire to protect aspects of his privacy makes him the ideal blackmail target.”
All About the $$$
One thing we know about those who operate in the world of real estate on the level Trump does: They desperately need money for their deals. Without it, their plans remain nothing more than blueprints on paper. And that leads directly to Trump finding himself locked out of most reputable banks because he had defaulted on so many loans:
“From 2003 to 2017, people from the former USSR made 86 all-cash purchases — a red flag of potential money laundering — of Trump properties, totaling $109 million. In 2010, the private-wealth division of Deutsche Bank also loaned him hundreds of millions of dollars during the same period it was laundering billions in Russian money.”
If Trump is working for Russian intelligence, his connection goes as far back as 1987, when he made his first visit to Moscow:
“The top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit. With assistance from the KGB. It took place while Kryuchkov was seeking to improve the KGB’s operational techniques in one particular and sensitive area. The spy chief wanted KGB staff abroad to recruit more Americans.”
The Puzzle Pieces Fit
Chait sums up all of the information we currently have regarding Trump’s connections to Russia perfectly:
“Like many of the suspicious facts surrounding Trump’s relations with Russia, it was possible to construct a semi-innocent defense. Maybe he just likes to brag about what he knows. Maybe he’s just too doddering to remember what’s a secret. And as often happens, these unwieldy explanations gained general acceptance. It seemed just too crazy to consider the alternative: It was all exactly what it appeared to be.”
Is Donald Trump a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kremlin? The evidence certainly suggests so.