Just when you thought Donald Trump’s ties to Russia couldn’t possibly get any worse…
In a recent announcement, the United States Department of Justice under the Biden administration revealed that they have officially indicted Elena Branson (a.k.a Elena Chernykh) on a total of five charges, ultimately calling Branson a Russian spy. Unsurprisingly, the Putin sympathizing ex-president almost immediately found himself embroiled in this ordeal. While it’s clearly noted that Branson did not have any personal, one-on-one contact with now-former President Donald Trump, she was reportedly heavily involved in Russian work to promote the former real estate mogul in the United States, and personally organized people to attend Trump’s rallies.
The FBI probe into the Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots of the U.S. (known colloquially by its Russian acronym KSORS) was first reported on back in 2021 by The Daily Beast. The KSORS specifically aimed to raise and promote Russian voices across the nation through a sort of bureau of speakers.
Branson, 61, is also alleged to have tried to get Trump to attend the 2016 World Chess Championship, which was being held at New York’s South Street Seaport. Prosecutors said she emailed a Trump adviser on Nov. 10, 2016, asking that Trump, then the president-elect, attend the event. The FBI said in the court filing that it publicly released photos from the event to show it was attended by Dmitry Peskov, who is now Putin’s press secretary. There is no indication that Trump attended.”
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Investigative reporter Scott Stedman with Forensic News had this to add: “Investigators are also keenly interested in KSORS political activities, including rallying Trump supporters in 2020.”
The Independent notes in their report that the US Attorney’s Office has made allegations claiming that Branson was in regular communication with high-ranking Russian officials, including dictatorial President Vladimir Putin himself, receiving “tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the Russian government” in connection to the events she held and the messaging she peddled at the direction of high-ranking officials in Russia, per the federal complaint.
The British monthly Byline Times reports that Branson worked in cohorts with her colleague Sergey Gladysh to heavily promote a “Trump 2020 Labor Day Cruise Rally” in Portland, Oregon, that was promoted on KSORS Facebook page. According to reporting, Gladysh was responsible for the creation of the Russian-American Cooperation Initiative, which heavily promoted a combination of pro-Trump and Russian propaganda that can still be found across the world wide web on archive sites to this day.
The aforementioned website featured headlines such as “Second Trump term is crucial to prospect of better U.S.-Russia relations, safer world,” and “Biden victory will spell disaster for U.S.-Russia relations, warns billionaire.” Stedman explains, “The billionaire referenced by the outlet is Oleg Deripaska, a key figure in the 2016 Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia.”
The truth will come out, Trump. Even if it’s just in a trickle.
You can read the DOJ’s full indictment here.
Featured image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore, under Creative Commons license 2.0