In the midst of the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine, and ex-President Donald Trump’s deeply disturbing behavior and rhetoric surrounding it, now seemed as good a time as any to remind the American people that, according to a former KGB spy, the man who served as the President of the United States just 2 years ago (and was under steady investigation for his Russian ties) was allegedly specifically recruited and cultivated as a Russian asset for more than 40 years.
Surprised? I didn’t think so.
Back in the very early weeks of 2021, a bombshell report from The Guardian made massive waves as they reported on the staggering revelation from Yuri Shvets, a former spy for the KGB who was posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
Speaking with the publication by phone at the time of the report, Shvets said, “This is an example where people were recruited when they were just students and then they rose to important positions; something like that was happening with Trump.”
The KGB major, who went on to serve as a key source for American Kompromat, a book that was released by journalist Craig Unger, worked at a cover job as a correspondent in Washington for the Russian news agency Tass during the 1980s.
Stay up-to-date with the latest news!
Subscribe and start recieving our daily emails.
Shvets revealed that Donald Trump first peaked Russian interests in 1977 when he married his first wife and mother of his first 3 children, Czech model Ivana Zelnickova. At that point, the then-real estate mogul became the center of a Czechoslovakia’s intelligence service spying operation, in cooperation with the KGB. Just three years later, Donald Trump would go on to begin his first major property development in the form of the Grand Hyatt New York hotel, just around the corner from Grand Central station. As part of the development, Trump purchased 200 TVs to be used in the hotel from Soviet émigré and co-owner of Joy-Lud electronics on Fifth Avenue, Semyon Kislin.
Shvets said Joy-Lud was operated and controlled by the KGB and that Kislin was a so-called “spotter agent” who pegged Trump, then a young and rising businessman, as a potential asset. Kislin has denied any personal involvement with the KGB.
It was a 1987 visit to Moscow and St Petersburg by Trump and his then-wife Ivanka that Shvets claimed was the catalyst to result in Trump being fed KGB talking points and highly flattered by KGB operatives who pushed the idea on Donald that he should take a dive into the world of politics.
“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,” the former KGB recalled at the time.
“This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world. 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.”
It was soon after this trip to Russia that Trump began to nose around the idea of a run for the Republican presidential nomination, even going so far as to launch a campaign in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. September 1st saw a full-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe with the headline: “There’s nothing wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can’t cure.”
In the midst of Ronald Reagan’s Cold War America, the ad was structured as an open letter to the American people “on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves.”
Just a few days later Shvets, who was back home in Russia now, saw firsthand the celebration and jubilation in his home country, revealing that while at the headquarters of the KGB’s first chief directorate in Yasenevo he received a cable full of celebration and dubbing the Trump ad as a successful “active measure” executed by a new KGB asset.
“It was unprecedented. I am pretty well familiar with KGB active measures starting in the early 70s and 80s, and then afterwards with Russia active measures, and I haven’t heard anything like that or anything similar – until Trump became the president of this country – because it was just silly. 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.
Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election win was met with similar jubilation in Moscow. Ultimately, despite an extensive investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unable to officially establish an official conspiracy connection between Trump, members of his campaign, and the Russians. However, the Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reportedly discovered a total of at least 272 known contacts and an additional 38 known meetings with Russia-linked operatives within the Trump campaign and transition teams.
Schvets, who conducted his own investigation on the matter, said, “For me, the Mueller report was a big disappointment because people expected that it will be a thorough investigation of all ties between Trump and Moscow, when in fact what we got was an investigation of just crime-related issues. There were no counterintelligence aspects of the relationship between Trump and Moscow.”
“This is what basically we decided to correct. So I did my investigation and then got together with Craig. So we believe that his book will pick up where Mueller left off.”
Unger, the author of the book in question as well as 7 others and a former contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine, said of Trump: “He was an asset. It was not this grand, ingenious plan that we’re going to develop this guy and 40 years later he’ll be president. At the time it started, which was around 1980, the Russians were trying to recruit like crazy and going after dozens and dozens of people.”
“Trump was the perfect target in a lot of ways: his vanity, narcissism made him a natural target to recruit. He was cultivated over a 40-year period, right up through his election.”
It all really makes a lot of sense now, huh?
Read the full 2021 report from The Guardian here.