In 2016, Donald Trump conspired with a foreign government to become President of the United States. On July 25, 2019, with the 2020 election around the corner, he decided to do it again.
The first time around, it was collusion, aiding and abetting Russia’s attack on American democracy. The second time, it was extortion, demanding the Ukrainian government manufacture dirt on Trump’s political opponents in exchange for help the country needs to fend off a Russian invasion and chart a democratic future free of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.
To make sense of these recent events that have rocked American politics and led to very real concerns that the President of the United States may be a Russian asset, we need to dig a little deeper.
In Season 1, The Asset dives into Trump’s decades-long history with Russia, from his extensive business dealings with Russian oligarchs to his presidential campaign and the investigations that have sent some of his closest associates to prison.
In Season 2, The Asset explores the backstory to Trump’s infamous phone call with the newly-elected Ukrainian President, where he demanded an investigation into a political opponent and set off a series of events leading to the impeachment inquiry.
Hosted by Max Bergmann, a senior fellow and director of the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and featuring expert guests, The Asset will put together the pieces of Trump’s relationship with Russia and Ukrainian extortion campaign.
The Asset is a partnership between the Center for American Progress Action Fund, District Productive, and Protect the Investigation. It is produced by Paul Woodhull, a 20-year veteran media executive and president of Build Better Media, and Peter Ogburn, the executive producer of the Bill Press Show.
October 7th, 2016, was one of the most important days in American political history. At 4:03 pm that day, the Access Hollywood tape was released. Just 29 minutes later, WikiLeaks – at 4:32pm on a Friday –began releasing emails hacked by Russian military officers from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s account. The timing of this dump made no sense for WikiLeaks. But it made a lot of sense for Donald Trump.
Last week on The Asset, we talked about the five steps to collusion: Hack. Inform. Collude. Release. Campaign. This week, we take a deep dive into that final step and break down how Trump campaigned on the stolen email releases. Russia hacked in March, gave WikiLeaks emails in September, WikiLeaks released them in October 2016, and Trump ran on these emails through November, mentioning WikiLeaks more than 150 times in the final weeks of the campaign. The email releases from WikiLeaks were core to Trump’s campaign strategy in the home stretch of the election.
In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, breaks down how the Trump team ran their campaign of collusion all the way to the White House. The episode explores how these two campaigns, the Russian campaign and the Trump campaign, worked together in tandem. And if this sounds like the definition of collusion, that’s because it is.
The Asset tells the full story of Trump and Russia. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how Russia helped the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States.