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Is Donald Trump a Russian agent?

Around the world, intelligence agencies, politicians, and the public are asking the same question: is it really possible Donald Trump is working with the Russians?


 

It’s hard to believe we are having this conversation just days before Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S. But the constant drip of accusations has turned into a flood and the Senate select committee on intelligence, in an unprecedented move, just announced it will investigate links between the new administration and the Kremlin. Around the world, intelligence agencies, politicians, and the public are asking the same question: is it really possible Donald Trump is working with the Russians?

The case for the prosecution is mostly circumstantial, but it’s sizable. Let’s start with Trump’s deep connections to the Kremlin. These go back to 1986, when he first visited Moscow at the invitation of the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Trump received the red-carpet treatment and met with many Politburo officials. Curiously, on his return to the United States, he immediately spent $90,000 on full-page ads in several national newspapers condemning Washington’s foreign policy and American allies who “can afford to defend themselves.”

MORE: Vladimir Putin’s American coup

In the decades that followed, Trump used his Moscow connections to chase rubles. His vodka deal and hotel partnerships failed. But he found success selling real estate to wealthy Russian investors. Trump saw the post-Soviet robber barons as clientele worth cultivating; returning from one visit to Moscow, Trump boasted in an interview with Real Estate Weekly “almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”

More notably, during this time Trump built extensive financial links to Russia. After a string of failures and bankruptcies, Trump’s business empire was facing collapse and American banks were refusing him credit. Luckily for him, several institutions with Russian connections stepped in to help bail him out. His now-bankrupt Trump Tower in Toronto, for example, was funded with money from two Russian-Canadian billionaires. More notable was his relationship to Bayrock, a real estate development company backed with Russian money and linked to bribery, racketeering, money laundering, and the Russian mob.

Trump’s direct relationship with Vladmir Putin is more opaque. At different times Trump has claimed he has spoken with Putin, and that he has never spoken with Putin; that he has met Putin, and that he has never met Putin; that he has a relationship with Putin and that he has “no relationship” with Putin.

MORE: The disturbing parallels between Trump and Putin

The ties between Trump’s immediate circle and Moscow are far easier to track. His closest advisers like Paul Manafort, Gen. Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and Richard Burt, have all maintained tight personal and business connections to the Kremlin and Russian oligarchs; or, in the case of his secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, with Vladimir Putin himself. All of them, like Trump, have consistently chosen Russia’s side over America’s in any foreign policy dispute.

Evidence of Russian efforts to interfere with the U.S. election in support of Trump are equally clear. More than a dozen U.S. intelligence agencies, several private Internet security companies, and numerous allied governments have all concluded that Russian hackers attacked the Clinton Foundation and the Democratic Party, and then carefully leaked emails to improve Trump’s electoral odds. It is worth noting that the Republican Party was also hacked, but the Russians did not leak those emails, and instead kept them for possible future use.

There are even more dramatic, albeit as yet unsubstantiated, reports circulating that claim the Kremlin has kompromat (blackmail material) on Trump; that they have been in regular contact with his team throughout the election; and that Trump’s people have even passed confidential information back to Moscow in return for continued support. These claims, as outlandish as they sound, are credible enough that the FBI felt it was necessary to share them with President Obama and president-elect Trump in recent intelligence briefings.

Face masks depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump hang for sale at a souvenir street shop in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP/CP)

Face masks depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump hang for sale at a souvenir street shop in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP/CP)

Which brings us to: Why? Why would Moscow take such a dangerous and unprecedented risk by meddling in an American election? Because Russia is weak. Its economy has collapsed; its GDP is now smaller than Canada’s. A country that once led the world in science now trails Ireland in number of patent grants. Life expectancy has fallen nine years behind America’s. Recent victories in Ukraine and Syria belie a military so worn out its only aircraft carrier has to be accompanied by a salvage tug. This is a country that simply cannot compete in the liberal democratic world order, therefore it is seeking to change the rules by discrediting democracy, weakening the Western alliance, and undermining the global leadership role of the United States—three things deftly accomplished by interfering in the election.

And in choosing to back this particular dark horse, the Russians earned a further bonus: Trump is the most slavishly pro-Russian Western leader since the end of the Second World War. Throughout the campaign, even when it was to his political disadvantage, he never wavered from praising Putin and defending his policies, including the bombing campaign in Syria and the invasion of Ukraine. In fact, once nominated, the only change Trump made to the Republican Party platform was to remove a promise to support Ukraine against Russia. He has continually attacked American allies like Germany and the EU, and criticized NATO as “obsolete.” And if the only thing Trump does is drop the Russian sanctions, as he has suggested he may, that alone would more than justify Moscow’s risk. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

MORE: What you need to know about Trump’s inauguration

So is Donald Trump a Kremlin agent? We may be ankle-deep in Russian rumours, but it’s still too incredible to conclude he’s a spy. It is more likely Trump is simply a victim of circumstances: feeling exposed by cheap credit, grainy videos, and election meddling, he now believes it’s in his best interest to be as helpful as possible to his Moscow friends. As others have argued, Trump is probably just a polezni durak: the Kremlin’s useful idiot.

What is absolutely certain, however, is that if Trump were a cabinet nominee (and not a cabinet nominator) his many Kremlin connections, conflicts, and compromises would make it impossible for him to obtain a security clearance. That fact alone makes him dangerously unfit for office, regardless of everything else.


 

Is Donald Trump a Russian agent?

  1. Treasonous Trump. The Reform Haters in Canada take his lead by also wishing ill on our country at almost every turn.

    Populism does not excuse any of it.

  2. Is it possible that not only do the Russians have “kompromat” on Trump, they are actually blackmailing him already? Just a thought …

  3. Hi, glad you liked my post so much you censored it!
    Screencaps are awesome, proof you lost another reader!!!
    rotflmao!!!

  4. This says it all……..”As others have argued, Trump is probably just a polezni durak: the Kremlin’s useful idiot.

    What is absolutely certain, however, is that if Trump were a cabinet nominee (and not a cabinet nominator) his many Kremlin connections, conflicts, and compromises would make it impossible for him to obtain a security clearance. That fact alone makes him dangerously unfit for office, regardless of everything else.”

  5. The question posed in the title of this article is so creepily weird as to be frightening.
    The mass Trump Derangement Syndrome has reached such pervasive proportions that it can be literally termed a state of mass psychosis. Where this madness will lead, and how it will eventually be cured are unknowable at this point. It is getting more intensive and widespread with each passing hour.
    I am in fear that this contagion may lead to assassination, God forbid.
    The cure might be for the Obama and Clinton Families to publicly proclaim President-Elect Donald Trump to be the legally- elected President of USA according to the Constitution, and urge the Nation that he be given a fair chance to lead.

    • Trump Derangement Syndrome is what got him elected. And you clearly have a severe case.

    • Please re-read this slowly & use your critical thinking skills while you do.
      “What is absolutely certain, however, is that if Trump were a cabinet nominee (and not a cabinet nominator) his many Kremlin connections, conflicts, and compromises would make it impossible for him to obtain a security clearance. That fact alone makes him dangerously unfit for office, regardless of everything else.”
      And no the headline is not weird, but it is somewhat frightening. What I find more frightening are the people like you who seem completely incapable of understanding that Trump is the least qualified President Elect in a lifetime and thoughtful people are right to question his actions. Trump Derangement Syndrome exists in the minds of Trump apologists like you.

  6. Or more likely the media is in a pissy mood because he won the election and he is not giving the media what they want – in fact he is dismissing them for the hacks that they are. It will be a long cold four years for the Democrat/Liberal lapdog media. Could happen is a nicer group of idiots.

    • Do you people even pay any attention to the complete break with reality the man has been displaying? This isn’t a right/left thing; this is a “we’re giving a lunatic the nuclear codes” thing.

      As much as I dislike Pence and his policies, I’ll be ecstatic when they finally put Trump in his straitjacket and swear Pence in.

    • Maureen,
      You are absolutely correct. The ult-left (there’s really no other kind) detest anyone who has better ideas than they have to run a country. Jimmy Carter is no longer the worst President of all times-he has been replaced by Obama who has left a total mess for the US and his party. The worst race relations since the 60’s; the greatest debt of all time with little to show for it; messes around the world from his horrendous foreign policy approaches and, just before leaving, defends the entire Jewish population (they are only 5% of the US population but provide 30% of democrat funding-or at least they used to!!). The markets sure like Trumps economic policy with both the Dow and TSX rising to record levels with the big upswing starting the day he was elected. He’s a wheeler dealer and all of his actions to date are setting him up for future negotiations. I’ll bet big $ that when he gets rolling there will be far fewer nuclear weapons in Russia traded off for reduced US sanctions; others will be paying their fair share of NATO or it will collapse due to the departure of the US; there will be massive job growth in the US and very few jobs exported-both driven by his reduced corporate tax plus an import tariff; Taiwan will be recognized as a separate country as it always should have been; ISIS will be gone due to the US and Russia acting together against them; etc.; etc. I just wish the Democrats would stop their whining-Hillary’s 2.5 million popular vote excess all came out of California. Let’s all declare her as the President of California and move on!!

    • Yeah right, the media are hacks because they are not slavishly regurgitating Trump’s every word & praising the actions of the most unqualified person to ever be elected U.S. President! Please give your head a shake & stop living in your confirmation bias world.

  7. OK! Enough is enough. Pick up the remote, turn off “The Manchurion Candidate” and go for a walk!! Reality check time.

  8. Blatant and pathetic propaganda. Your magazine “Maclean’s” is fake news.

    • Dave, first of all, this isn’t a news report, Gilmore is a columnist. Do you know the difference? One reports news, the other offers opinions. And in this column, he is pointing out that there is enough “smoke” surrounding Trump that asking if there is “fire” isn’t at all unreasonable. And offers evidence to support his belief. Crying out “fake news” whenever someone says something you don’t like about your guy doesn’t further the discussion in any way.

      • I think you nailed it …. “fake news” is actually opinions and those who are concerned about fake news can’t tell the difference

  9. Sensationalism aside, there is no way Trump would have gotten anywhere close to the US Government were it not for the massively stupid US electorate + Putin’s orchestrated campaign of hacking and smears.

    Also, it’s Ukraine! Ukraine! Not “the Ukraine”! How difficult is that?

  10. Trump’s main, perhaps his only, claim to be elected is as a deal-maker. And the emerging deal with Putin is totally skewed. How are America’s interests served by abandoning Europe and NATO in his favor? Russia is notoriously corrupt, its economy is bled white by the looting of oligarchs, and as a military threat it is minor compared to the US. Further, Putin himself has a grim reputation.
    Consider: Either Russia has a great deal to offer the United States, as a powerful ally and economic giant – which it is not: Or it has a great deal to offer Trump. I conclude that there must be a shadow deal, greatly to Trump’s benefit. If there is not, then he is a lousy deal-maker.
    Also, I find it incredible that Trump would even know where Ukraine and the Crimea are, let alone have formed a clear policy towards them, in the absence of any other clear policy whatsoever domestically… Unless he was coached by someone very determined, (much as he has been on the question of Israel by Jared Kushner).
    In any rapprochement between the US and Russia, it is hard to see what the US would gain at the price of all its European allies and NATO. What remains to be seen, or, rather, hidden, like the tax returns, is the enormous benefit to be gained by Trump personally. Unless he has already been paid off with the gift of the presidency.

    • You know, the reason that you think Russia has nothing to offer US in any kind of deal is very simple – Russia and US don’t actually have any conflicting national interests.

      Yes, Obama was an idealist, and his adventures around the world went against the realist perspective dominant in Russian politics; but there is very little conflict on issues that actually affect US core interests.

      I hope you are not about to mention the Ukraine and how vital it is to US, because it’s not, as can be easily deduced by the amount of help it received from the states.

      ___

      Generally speaking, I am sorry to see just how much ignorance there is about Russia. There is a long running meme about the supposed small size of Russian economy – this is simply not true. In fact reputable and easily available statistics from organizations like IMF and World Bank consistently place Russia as 5th or 6th largest economy in the world. Far ahead of countries like Canada. Yet, I see references in articles, comments and event statements by politicians like Obama and McCain that Russian economy is supposedly small and shrinking, when its anything but!

      • And I guess, I am about to be accused of being a Kremlin troll right? Simply because I stated a different view :-)

      • I agree with you. Constant propaganda by some politicians (I noticed mainly older gentleman) and the main stream Corporate news media are pushing for confrontations rather then for diplomacy and for de – escalation of tensions between two superpowers with thousands of nuclear weapons and missiles. This is crazy and very dangerous for the all world.

      • By GDP? The IMF hasn’t placed the Russian economy higher than 7th or 8th in the past decade. Its a reputable source, but maybe you aren’t checking it.

    • Russia has a large border with China … if the US runs into issues with China, Russia could be a useful ally.
      .
      That’s all I can come up with …

  11. Have the Americans never interfered in another countries election?

    • Yes, indeed.
      The Obama Administration was heavily involved and invested in the last Israeli National Election. It’s effort was to defeat PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election and his Likud Party.
      Like almost everything Pres. Hussein Obama has attempted, this effort also ended in failure.

    • Are you serious or this is sarcastic question?
      The list is very long when you also consider “Regime changes, Colour Revolutions, Arab Spring ,……and list goes on and on. Problem for the US Administration is that the shoe is now on another foot and they do not like it!

  12. “As others have argued, Trump is probably just a polezni durak: the Kremlin’s useful idiot.” — another small ignorant comment by the media coming on the heels of decades of successful Russophobic propaganda.

    To show you how ridiculous the knowledge of this author is on Russia observe – he even incorrectly translated the English phrase “useful idiot” into what seems to be Russian. There are so many problems with this single sentence that I feel like talking about the rest of this article (no matter how full it is of toxic propaganda) is a herculean task I dare not attempt :-) So I will focus on this on phrase.

    First of all, dear author, “useful idiot” in Russian is “poleznyi idiot”, not “durak”. Durak means fool. Idiot in Russian has the same roots that the word idiot in English – it comes from medicine. This is the first clue – the translation was not done by native Russian speakers, or at least, not by translators of official speeches.

    This phrase however, isn’t just poorly translated. This phrase was used for decades in the West to delegitimize people who expressed views empathetic to Russia. The phrase is always expressed in Russian (by English authors) to underline first and foremost the supposed Russian attitude to these people “the fools”. Because (in the bias of people who use this praise) Russians are assumed to not actually want peace or better relations, they are supposed therefor to call people who object to hostilities with them as “idiots or fools” since they themselves would never supposedly actually hold such views vis a vie the west.

    This phrase was supposedly coined by Lenin when talking about his supporters in the West. But it’s all a fiction. Lenin never called anyone who supported him a fool. In fact, Soviet communists were convinced that communism is an ideology that belongs to every nation, much like capitalist liberals believe their version of democracy is for everyone. Needless to say, extensive research to pinpoint the supposed excerpt from one of Lenin’s many recorded speeches was fruitless – the first time this phrase appears anywhere is in anti-communist newspaper columns in the late 1940’s – an brilliantly invented piece of media propaganda.

    So when this is well known, why do writers at MacLeans continue to propagate these cold war bias and untrue notions? Why do they continue to deride anything to do with Russia, it’s people or it’s statehood?

  13. Such absolute leftist garbage. Obama gave great speeches but couldn’t manage anything. Same as our guy here in Canada but he can’t even give good speeches. The days of trying the liberal’s only tool-called “spend your way to happiness” is over in the US and will be here as well in 3 years because it simply doesn’t work. It results in next to no focus and limited results. The best example here is than in Harper’s last year Federal taxes were 5% lower than Trudeau’s, he spent $29 billion on infrastructure and had a balanced budget. Trudeau in his first full year has spent only $9 billion on infrastructure and, in spite of collecting higher taxes, has a budget deficit of over $36 billion. Wynne with Gerald Butts pulling her puppet strings has lead us to disaster in Ontario and now he’s leading Trudeau down the same rat hole!!

    • Trump has predicted budget deficits for his entire first term … larger than Obama

  14. Whatever, they are both bad news and I wouldn’t put it past Putin that much of this has substance. The problem is that money now Trumps integrity.

  15. The Obama administration, in concert with the press in the US, is spouting nothing but complete lies about the Russian involvement in the elections.
    1) it is not news that the Russians are trying to hack the US and that the US is trying to hack them. In fact the US tries to hack everyone. The US hacked Merkel’s cell phone and Germany is one of the strongest allies of the IS.
    2) the elections were not affected by the Russians. The allegation is that Assange gave information to the Russians. There is NO evidence that this is true. And even if he did, the disclosed information pertained to the DNC and Podesta, and no voting machines were hacked.
    3) Did the disclosure of the disgusting behavior of the DNC somehow swing the election? If the DNC wasn’t dishonest, there would be nothing for the leftist press to report. If this was a disclosure of RNC information by a government official, the press would be lionizing the whistleblower for “saving democracy”. In fact, this was what happened when Daniel Ellsberg stole the Pentagon Papers and published them. Apparently, Ellsberg is a hero, but Assange is the devil because he disclosed information having to do with the wrong party.

    • Seems you should stick to writing for wiKKKileaKKKs and brietbart .

  16. You’re saying that there is no requirement that the President pass a security clearance? Even though he will have access to more sensitive information than probably any other person in the United States? That’s insane! This means that all his cabinet members will need to be cleared to know information that they will just pass over to him willy-nilly.
    Every person who runs for the nomination of their party to be President should have to undergo a security check before he or she can put their name forward. Trump might not be the only one to be screened out at that phase.
    Will his son-in-law require a security clearance before he is given information about the Palestinian-Israeli situation? I know he’s not required to be confirmed by Congress for that position.

  17. The Obama administration, in concert with the press of the US is spouting nothing but complete lies about the Russian involvement in the elections.
    1) it is not news that the Russians are trying to hack the US and that they are trying to hack them. In fact the US tries to hack everyone. They hacked Merkel’s cell phone who is one of the strongest allies of the US.
    2) the elections were not affected by the Russians. The allegation is that Assange gave information to the Russians. There is NO evidence that this is true. And even if he did, the disclosed information pertained to the DNC and Podesta, and NO machines were hacked.
    3) Did the disclosure of the disgusting behavior of the DNC somehow swing the election? If the DNC wasn’t dishonest, there would be nothing for the leftist press to report. If this was a disclosure of RNC information by a government official, the press would be lionizing the whistleblower for “saving democracy”. In fact, this was what happened when Daniel Ellsberg stole the Pentagon Papers and published them. Apparently, Ellsberg is a hero, but Assange is the devil because he disclosed information having to do with the wrong party.

    4) Last of all, the evidence that the Russians interfered is incredibly weak. If you believe John McAfee, any hacking that was done, wasn’t done by the Russians. If you are into techy stuff, look at: https://www.wordfence.com/blog… They concluded: ” the malware sample is old, widely used and appears to be Ukrainian. It has NO apparent relationship with Russian intelligence and it would be an indicator of compromise for any website.” Should we believe the intelligence services and in particular Mr. Clapper? Clapper defended and lied about an intelligence agency unconstitutionally spying on the American people. Shouldn’t we be skeptical about his conclusions on Russian hacking?

    Bottom line is that this whole thing really is an attempt to de-legitimize Trump and have an issue that the Democrats can point to during the first part of Trump’s term. The press is a very willing accomplice in this, as are Senators McCain and Graham, who would be very happy to see Trump fail, because they hate him. This entire episode is a disgusting attempt by the left and the RINO’s to hold on to power – nothing more. If the press, McCain and Graham were so concerned about security issues, they would have insisted that Hillary be indicted and that Obama impeached for clear disclosures of top secret information on Hillary’s server.

      • Give it up, Ironhorse. You lost (Big time). Now, go rust in a dark corner, somewhere.

    • I’m with you, Mr. Molson, and I’ll bet at least half the Canadian electorate are irregardless of what we are fed by the purveyors of such crass headlines/opinions as the one above. I can’t believe MacLeans has stooped to this level. What anxiety our upper eschelons must be experiencing.

  18. Thanks for writing such an in depth article and hope that these questions and articles will continue about the trump putin bromance and the state of the Russian economy.

  19. If Hillary had won you guys would have published a similar article expressing concern over her links to Saudi Arabia…..right?

  20. The West had not been taking cyber security as seriously as they should. This is a wake up call. The press has been reporting Trump’s conflicts and compromises with the Russians since the Republican primaries. The American political system should have stopped this farce but it is clearly broken. Keep up the good work.

  21. I find it incredibly disturbing that this article came up with a blaring ad to “Shut down the corrupt Clinton Foundation!!”

    You might want to check out your ad networks for fake news and bad actors, lol. It can’t help your magazine’s reputation.

    • Are you aware of the use of ‘cookies’?
      That’s an indictment of your own Internet usage.
      Oops!

  22. Hate to break it to you, Scott, but Russia’s economy never was as big as Canada’s.
    Nice job, otherwise, of perpetuating the media mudslinging that, if anything, helped elect Trump. While it plays well with the ‘Never Trump’ left, it’s ignored by those who were his early core supporters, and has a tendency to irritate those, like myself, who weren’t big fans of him, but gradually got tired of the willingness of the mainstream media to lose any sense of objectivity at the mere mention of his name.
    I can only assume its continuation signals support for a second term for his administration already…

  23. Sure this is a bit sensationalist for a headline, but the question isn’t that outrageous. He’s likely not an agent, but a willing partner. MONEY rules the world, and Trump serves that master (mammon)… always has and always will.

  24. I doubt it.
    But PM Justine does not hide the fact, the he follows orders from the Aga Khan and George Soros.
    He is a traitor, and should end up in prison.

  25. This article fails the logic test. No evidence has been produced from ANY intelligence agency anywhere to link Russia with Donald trump in any way. Conjecture, hyperbole, and inflammatory rhetoric is all maclean’s has produced in this diatribe. Donald Trump hasn’t even been president for a week and the media piles on from every country in the western world.
    It’s sad Canadian media could be so lick-spittle in its compliance with American establishment interests . Give the man a chance to act in his role, then judge him from his actions. Common sense is not common as it used to be…
    Jello

    • Hi there Mr. Johnson: You state that “No evidence has been produced”. Hmmm, where have we heard that phrase recently?

  26. “Trump the Traitor”? It’s been suggested elsewhere as well, however followers of Trump and the New Right tend to be sheep. Visit the Brietbart website-any comment that strays from the party line, even in the slightest is met with the usual response of personal insults.

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