The Soviet KGB spy agency and later Russian intelligence services cultivated Donald Trump as an asset for 40 years, a former spy told the Guardian in a bombshell interview. And the Kremlin was delighted with the results, said former KGB commander Yuri Shvets.
The strategy was typical: to focus on reasonably good prospects and hope that one of the courted Americans will achieve a position of power or access that may be beneficial, said Shvets, who lives in Virginia.
People were recruited when they were only students, and then they rose to important positions; something like that was going on with Trump, explained Shvets, who worked as a KGB major in the 1980s in the United States with a covering position as a Washington correspondent for the Russian Tass news agency.
Shvets is a crucial source in the new book American Kompromat, written by Craig Unger, investigative reporter and former editor of Vanity Fair, who also wrote House of Trump, House of Putin.
The KGB and Czechoslovakian agents first noticed Trump in 1977 when he married his first wife, Czech Ivana Zelnickova, Shvets told the Guardian.
Trump was courted on his first visit with his wife to Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1987, as intelligence agents flattered him, offered talking points they hoped he would push in the United States, and were urging Trump to get into politics, Shvets said.
For the KGB, it was a charm offensive, he explained. They had gathered a lot of information about his personality in order to find out who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually and psychologically and that he was prone to flattery. This is what they exploited.
They played the game as if they were immensely in awe of his personality and thought he was the one who should be the President of the United States someday.
The intelligence service was blown away at how eagerly Trump seemed to embrace the agents’ perspectives, Shvets said. In the year of his visit to Moscow, Trump ran full-page ads in three major newspapers to attack Western alliances complaining that the allies were not paying their fair share for defense. It was a theme he would reject from the White House, destroying ties between Western nations.
Trump’s ties with Russia continued to strengthen when he held his Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow in 2013, sought a deal to build Trump Tower Moscow as he ran for president in 2016 and developed other commercial links.
The 2016 Trumps Campaign and Presidential Transition team had more than 100 contacts with agents linked to Russia between September 2015 and January 2017, according to a report from the Center for American Progress Moscow Project.
Donald Trump could not be reached immediately by HuffPost for comment.
Check out the Guardians’ full interview with Shvets here.
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