Donald Trump’s reticence towards the Russian president is striking. In an interview with FAZ.NET, journalist Luke Harding is convinced that Moscow has material against him.
In your book “Verrat” you describe Donald Trump’s close contacts with Moscow. Is the American President Agent Putin’s to you?
“agent” is not the right term, it makes the wrong associations. Donald Trump does not perform Cossack dances in the uniform of a Soviet colonel. What is crucial is that he has a special connection to Putin, both as a candidate, as an elected president and as a sworn president. One example is Trump’s reluctance to criticize the Kremlin chief – although he harshly criticizes everyone else, especially the Germans and their cars. He is rude to Theresa May, to the Mayor of London, to Hollywood, to the New York Times, to Jeff Sessions – but there is only one person on this planet to whom he is the kindness in person – Vladimir Putin. Trump has a habit of making a fool of himself about the height of little men and, when he talks about them, calling them small; Putin is very small, but Trump never mentions it.
What is the reason for Trump’s charm towards Putin?
He’s compromised. We have evidence that he was secretly recorded on video in Moscow. We don’t know what’s on the video. Maybe he goes to bed early and reads a 19th century French novella; maybe he can be seen having an exotic experience. What we know is that the KGB and its successor FSB have a long history of secretly recording celebrities on video. Trump’s connections with Russia go back a long time, to a trip in 1987, organized by the Soviet government. And paid for it, by the way. He was under surveillance even then. There is much to suggest that Trump is an on-off operation, so the KGB simply collected material to involve him and influence him. In secret service jargon, this is called “cultivating”, i.e. “growing up”.
Then what happened?
Trump was further “cultivated”. This was intensified during the Obama presidency in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Are there any other clues besides the allegedly compromising video?
All members in Trump’s first team had a connection to Moscow or a Russian dimension in one way or another. Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Rex Tillerson, Felix Sater, Paul Manafort or Carter Page. It seemed to me almost as if Moscow had put together Trump’s team.
But that’s not evidence.
The financial links are the heaviest. In fact, Trump’s companies have operated for three decades as a washing machine for Russian cash. And partly as a shelter for Russian gangsters. Many of them lived in the Trump Tower in the 1980s and 1990s. There’s evidence of that. Several of them were later convicted and sent to prison. It is remarkable that I describe all this in my book, and Donald Trump did not sue me. A hundred thousand copies were sold, the book was number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and I openly accuse him of laundering money. And he didn’t react. There hasn’t been a letter from a lawyer at Trump’s yet. You can interpret this as you like!
Please note this interview has been translated from German.