Houston Wade, Executive Director
This week gave rise to quite the leak of information which has been floating among the US Intelligence community and the halls of power for months. The publishing of an unconfirmed dossier detailing how Russia, and specifically Vladimir Putin, is controlling Donald Trump via compromising behavior/information was published by Buzzfeed in its entirety. While the information contained in the dossier has yet to be verified by anyone, intelligence and news agencies alike, the US intelligence community do say that the source of the dossier, a former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele (who was hired by a joint team of Democratic and Republican leadership against the election of Trump this past Summer), is a reliable and vetted source. Steele has since gone underground fearing for his safety.
The goal of this paper is to connect the dots of the timeline contained within the bombshell dossier, and the very real timeline of Trump’s, and his surrogates’, movements during the period in question. If you have not read the dossier, let me remind you that much of the information is quite graphic and sexual in nature.
The most prominent item in the dossier is what Trump is alleged to have done while staying in the presidential suite at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton in 2013:
The timeline for when this may have happened can easily be established. Trump was indeed in Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe Pageant being held in a suburb of Moscow at Crocus City Hall. Trump had the presidential suite of Moscow Ritz-Carlton during his time at the pageant. We must note that Crocus City hall is privately-owned by Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov. It has been charged by several news agencies (NBC and The Washington Post among others) that Agalarov was the liaison between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin introducing the two. Agalarov is also mentioned in the dossier as a witness of Trump’s participation at orgies while seeking Russian financial deals on a trip to Saint Petersburg. As the NBC article linked to above notes, Trump did a favor for Agalarov by letting Agalarov’s son Emin, a burgeoning pop star, film a music video for the pageant and even made a cameo at the end of the video.
The interesting tidbit is that Trump allowed Emin to the film the pageant music video at the Ritz Carlton where he was staying.
While both NBC and The Washington Post reported that the meeting between Trump and Putin did not happen during the pageant event due to scheduling conflicts, but that Trump received $14 million for hosting the pageant at Crocus City hall, and Agalarov announced that Trump signed a deal to build a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow. This is in direct conflict with what Trump told reporters at his news conference held this week. Trump has also stated in the past that he knows Putin and is friends with him.
Trump’s own son Donald Trump Jr. told ETN in 2008 that the Trump’s were “bullish” on Russian real estate and that, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.” Trump’s son and Vice President of his company named specific projects where Russian investment had occurred; this contradicts everything the Trump administration has been maintaining.
Trump’s reluctance to say disparaging things about Russia or Putin is very telling. As far as Trump criticism is concerned there is little he won’t give his unfiltered thoughts on… except Putin and Russia.
The dossier states that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is in covert relationship with Russia and met with officials in Prague in the summer of 2016. In the dossier it is said that Cohen’s wife is Russian and that her father is a Russian developer, but Cohen states that his wife is in fact Ukrainian. It has also been verified by several sources that Cohen was not outside of the USA during the period in question (the end of August/beginning of September of 2016) Also, according to CNN that it was a different ‘Michael Cohen‘ with the same birth year, but a passport from another nation, who visited Prague to supposedly meet with Russian officials on behalf of the Trump campaign mentioned in the dossier. The search for who this other ‘Michael Cohen’ could be continues.
What we do know is that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had heavy political and financial ties to the Kremlin. Manafort ran the political operations of former Ukrainian president and Russian stooge Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort was let go by the Trump campaign in August after his Russian financial connections began to be exposed. As of November Manafort’s financial windfalls were being investigated by the FBI. The dossier suggests that Cohen became the defacto liaison between the Trump campaign and Russia after Manafort’s dismissal.
Another accusation in the dossier is that Carter Page, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, was a liaison between the Trump campaign and Russian interests. Specifically the dossier names Page as a contact with Igor Sechin, the President of Putin-owned Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company. The claims in the dossier coincide with news of an investigation of Page by the FBI in September of 2016, and with a commencement speech Carter gave at the New Economic School in Moscow back in July. The investigation into Page by the FBI is because Page is thought to be in violation of the terms of the US economic sanctions against Russia regarding Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Page is a former US Naval officer and Annapolis alumni. While Page maintains that his energy investment company Global Energy Capital is a major player in the Russian energy market, no one in the ex-pat community involved with the Russian energy market have ever heard of him. His business has been booming in Russia as a result of his new connections to the Trump campaign. One prediction of the dossier is that Trump, Page, and other associates will be offered as much as 19% of private control of Rosneft should sanctions be lifted (which is thought to be at least $20 billion in value). It is stated that as of October 17th Sechin was very confident that Trump would win the election.
Some of the accusations made within the leaked dossier do coincide with the timelines of Trump and his surrogates; while others, like Cohen, do not seem to be as accurate. What we do know is that Trump refuses to say anything negative about Russia or Putin, and instead offers up only praise of Putin when given the opportunity. It is also established that Trump at one time secured significant investments from Russian oligarchs and has had financial dealings within Russia. The Institute for Science and Policy takes the position that President-elect Donald Trump is indeed compromised and is under the coercion of the Russian state regardless of the validity contained within the dossier leaked by Buzzfeed.