Our RAGEPATH project did not begin as a specific inquiry into Trump’s ties with the Russian regime. At the outset, we simply felt that Trump’s business record had not been carefully examined during the campaign. We believed that Trump had used a screen of self-generated scandals to shield himself from financial scrutiny. So we went back over his finances and we have dug deep.
In the course of our investigation, we found a lot of Russian associates in Trump’s business past. The exact scale and scope of Trump’s relationship with Russian operatives is still unclear, but it’s big and unmistakable. While Trump’s ties to former Soviet intelligence agents have been extensive since at least 1992, there is some evidence that suggests even his father may have been a Soviet asset.
We didn’t just find Russians associates, however. There are a lot of Italians with mob connections, too. The Trump family had substantial business ties with at least three mob families (the Genovese, Gambino and Scarfo families). There are some deeply troubling associations with Hong Kong triad figures. Trump even appears to have taken dirty money from Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Sometimes it feels impossible to find a financial crime in New York that Trump didn’t wet his beak in. There is no grift so small that he won’t cash in on it. And, unfortunately, something fishy has been going on at the FBI too.
Why is that relevant with regards to Russia? Because our findings so far indicate that Trump collaborates with criminal conspiracies. We don’t have much evidence that he’s the instigator of them.
What does that mean? Trump and the Russian regime is just the tip of a very dangerous iceberg. We do believe it is vital for this nation’s security to remove Trump from office as soon as feasible. But even if Trump were impeached tomorrow, there would still be a very important question left to answer – what has the Russian regime been up to, and how advanced is their plot?
The Russian regime is not a domestic political party. It is a hostile foreign power that has engaged in a sustained campaign of subversion. Look for a moment at the people and causes it is known to have supported:
- California and Texas separatists: In September of 2016, Putin’s regime sponsored a global conclave of separatist movements, including domestic movements that want to split apart the United States. These guys may seem like kooks to you and me, but to the Russian regime they are dissidents who can be co-opted to destabilize the United States.
- Green Party candidate Jill Stein: In December of 2015, Jill Stein shared a table in Moscow with Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin.
- The Trump Tower meeting where they appear to have stuffed a clown-car conference room full of Russians operatives.
- Apparently, Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher’s allegiance to the Russian regime was so widely known in Washington that it was a subject of private jokes among elected officials.
And of course, we’ve learned from Michael Flynn that agents of foreign powers have been conducting undisclosed lobbying of Congress. We also have seen evidence that Russian operatives may have actually hacked voting systems in Florida.
What we see are the outlines of a sustained effort to cultivate political influence in the United States in the interests of subverting American democracy. Does it really seem plausible that no Democrats have been approached?
President Trump has tweeted in the past that Chuck Schumer’s ties to Putin should be investigated. While Trump spews a lot of bullshit, he also leaks a lot of secrets on Twitter. It’s not impossible that he leaks Russian secrets just as easily as he leaks the American ones.
I’m not an expert on Chuck Schumer’s biography, but I know he did team up with Putin to promote Russian gas stations in 2003, claiming it would break the monopoly of OPEC. More recently, Schumer has called into question the Democratic Party’s resolve on the question of what Russia’s regime has been trying to do to American democracy.
It gives me no pleasure to sound a McCarthyite warning. But Trump’s evil clown show of chaos may only be the sideshow spin-off of a larger operation by the Russian regime.
The Trump question is a vital one. The core mission here at RAGEPATH is figuring out “what is up with Trump?” But Americans should not let that very urgent question obscure the fact that whatever the Russian regime was up to, it predates Trump’s presidential candidacy.
Every incumbent elected official should be asked to identify and explain their interactions with Russian agents in recent years, if for no other reason than to help establish the extent and mechanisms of the Russian regime’s influence efforts.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that the question of Russian subversive influence isn’t relevant to “ordinary Americans” concerned with bread-and-butter issues. But, it really should be. The subversion of American democracy by a hostile power is bigger than either party and needs to be treated like the threat it is. To ignore such a threat while we tear our own society apart would truly be a tragedy.