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Donald J. Trump: Russian intelligence's 'confidential contact' for 40 years

3 min read

It seems clear that Trump will continue to be a Russian asset, with the bonus of classified information transferred even beyond his presidency. A new book by Craig Unger features a former KGB spy, Yuri Shvets as a source.

…Trump first appeared on the Russians’ radar in 1977 when he married his first wife, Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech model. Trump became the target of a spying operation overseen by Czechoslovakia’s intelligence service in cooperation with the KGB.

[…]

Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into politics.

The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

[…]

They fed him these so-called active measures soundbites and it happened. So it was a big achievement for the KGB active measures at the time.”

Soon after he returned to the US, Trump began exploring a run for the Republican nomination for president and even held a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On 1 September, he took out a full-page advert in the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe headlined: “There’s nothing wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can’t cure.”

The bizarre intervention was cause for astonishment and jubilation in Russia. A few days later Shvets, who had returned home by now, was at the headquarters of the KGB’s first chief directorate in Yasenevo when he received a cable celebrating the ad as a successful “active measure” executed by a new KGB asset.

The ad offered some highly unorthodox opinions in Ronald Reagan’s cold war America, accusing ally Japan of exploiting the US and expressing scepticism about US participation in Nato. It took the form of an open letter to the American people “on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves”.

[…]

It was hard to believe that somebody would publish it under his name and that it will impress real serious people in the west but it did and, finally, this guy became the president.”

Trump’s election win in 2016 was again welcomed by Moscow. Special counsel Robert Mueller did not establish a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. But the Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, found the Trump campaign and transition team had at least 272 known contacts and at least 38 known meetings with Russia-linked operatives.

www.theguardian.com/…

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