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.
To understand the Russian interference in the 2016 election, it is essential to understand Vladimir Putin. And to understand Putin, you need to understand his KGB past, his rise to power, his fight for control of Russia, and the system--The Sistema--he created.
The collapse of the Soviet Union set off a mad violent scramble to take control over its vast state-held industrial sector. Organized crime flourished and The Oligarchs were born: a new class of noveau-riche businessmen capturing all the wealth. They move their money abroad and are a force unto themselves. Until KGB drives its comeback with Vladmir Putin behind the wheel .
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 how Putin goes from political unknown to president in a matter of months, setting his sights on taking control. One of Putin’s first priorities: Bring the oligarchs to heel and put them under state control.
As Putin’s power consolidates and strengthens over the ensuing two decades, an informal system or Sistema took root. This system is also staggeringly corrupt and makes Putin shockingly wealthy. A key requirement of operating in Putin’s Sistema is you have to be corrupt. That means that anyone and everyone in The Sistema is also compromised. The oligarchs become tools of Putin and the Kremlin. As Russian oligarchs went out into the world and spread their money around, bought property, made investments, built connections and developed relationships; they were also developing relationships and connections that could be seized and cultivated by Putin’s Kremlin. This would soon include a relationship being cultivated with an organization based in a tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
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.