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.
For decades, Donald Trump has cultivated Russian money and investment to keep his hotels and other business interests afloat. But as Trump was cultivating Russian money; Vladimir Putin’s Russia was cultivating him. With Putin consolidating power at home and trying to revive Russia as a great power abroad, he faced a challenge: democracy. “Color revolutions” – pro-democracy uprisings - threatened Russia’s rise and Putin’s rule. He blamed the United States and sought to hit back where we were most vulnerable: our politics. Donald Trump became the perfect vehicle; the ideal asset. As Trump’s campaign built up steam, Russia set up its own campaign to support him. These two campaigns shared the same goals, same tactics, and were in constant contact. In other words, these campaigns colluded. Since coming to office, Trump has continued to align himself with Putin, all while trying to obstruct the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and his own campaign’s complicity in that effort.
Host Max Bergmann is a veteran of the State Department who worked on sensitive military and national security issues under Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry. He now runs an initiative for the Center for American Progress Action Fund called The Moscow Project. For the past two years, he and his team have been examining Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Beginning with this trailer of The Asset, you will hear everything they have learned over the past two years to help you make sense of the biggest political scandal in American history, including elements of our exclusive interviews with:
Tim O'Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion and author of Trump Nation
Angela Stent, Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and director of its Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and author of Putin's World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest
Luke Harding, Foreign Correspondent for The Guardian and author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win
Asha Rangappa, former Special Agent for the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence investigations in New York City
John Sipher, former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, and in high-threat environments, including Moscow
David Corn Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones and co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump