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.
Donald Trump’s businesses failed; a lot. He bankrupted hotels, casinos, an airline and—even an entire football league. And when they failed Trump needed someone to bail him out. And up until the late 1990s that person was his dad.
Yet despite Trump’s businesses failures, he came to personify the image of American wealth and success in the 1980s. It was an era of a roaring stock market and Wall Street extravagance and no one seemed to embody the fabulously wealthy lifestyle more than Donald Trump. He cultivated that image and became a celebrity.
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, shows that when Trump wrote The Art of the Deal, when he was on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, when he was being listed in Forbes as one of the wealthiest people in the world, it was all a fraud. It was an act. As everything was falling apart around him, Trump proved a master at keeping up appearances – at living a double life. He convinced the public, the media, and banks that he was a great businessman when in fact, he was bankrupt.
During this period Trump also rubbed shoulders with mobsters and even got on the radar of the KGB – even going to Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the United States.
As the 1990s became the 2000s, Donald Trump’s dad was no longer around to bail him out. But traditional banks would not lend to him, coining the term “the Donald Risk.” Yet Trump was able to build project after project by turning to a new class of uber-wealthy buyers and investors from Russia and the former Soviet Union. The question would soon become: who was cultivating whom?
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.