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Reports December 17, 2018

Following the Money: Trump and Russia-Linked Transactions From the Campaign to the Presidential Inauguration

At the turn of the 18th century, a newly elected president of the United States—only the second in the nation’s then-brief history—cautioned the American people about “the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections.” In particular, John Adams pointed to threats from abroad, warning that if a changed election outcome “can be obtained by foreign nations by flattery or menaces, by fraud or violence, by terror, intrigue, or venality, the Government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves.” Speaking before a joint session of Congress, he thus pleaded with the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to “[preserve] our Constitution from its natural enemies,” including “the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments.” The threat of foreign influence over our elections did not wane in the intervening 220 years: Today, the United States has a president whose election was aided by the fraud and intrigue of a foreign nation. Americans who watched how President Donald Trump, in the words of the late Sen. John McCain, “abased himself … abjectly before a tyrant” in Helsinki, cannot be faulted for wondering whether John Adams’s long-ago warning has become a reality. Trump’s campaign to win the presidency required money, as did the Kremlin’s campaign to help him. While these two campaigns aligned in their goal—Trump’s victory—overt monetary contributions from Russia would have drawn regulatory scrutiny, not to mention public ire. Any financial support from abroad, therefore, would have had to be creatively obscured.

Explainers, Reports November 27, 2018

Conspiracy Against the United States: The Story of Trump and Russia

The Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has become the defining scandal of the administration so far. This report lays out the overwhelming evidence of that collusion, exploring its underpinnings going back decades to create a cohesive explanation for how—and why—the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to install Trump in the White House.

Reports October 3, 2018

The Origins of Russia’s Broad Political Assault on the United States

On January 6, 2017, the U.S. intelligence community released a declassified assessment to the public confirming what most had already suspected: Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.1 Since the intelligence community released its assessment, the public has learned a great deal about this assault from the special counsel investigation, press reporting, and declassified intelligence. Based on analysis of available material, it has become increasingly clear when, how, and why Russia launched the campaign against American democracy. It is evident that there was a surge of activity intended to influence the American electorate and political institutions that originated in 2014 as a counterresponse to the U.S.-led international isolation of Russia following its intervention in Ukraine.

Reports September 26, 2018

Ensuring the Special Counsel’s Independence if Rosenstein Is Fired

If Trump seeks to undermine the investigation and obstruct justice by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, there would be serious concerns about the impartiality of any political official at the U.S. Department of Justice who replaces him. These concerns are heightened by Trump’s repeated demands that the Department of Justice protect him from accountability for his actions. The only way to repair the trust of the American people in the integrity of the investigation would be to follow past precedent and ensure the special counsel is truly independent.

Dispatch, Explainers, Reports July 10, 2018

Putin’s Payout: 10 Ways Trump has Supported Putin’s Foreign Policy Agenda

Since the beginning of Trump’s administration, the White House has demonstrated a clear and consistent pattern of behavior toward Russia by not only calling for better relations with the Kremlin but also actively advancing Russia’s foreign policy objectives. There is no clear geopolitical or policy rationale for Trump’s behavior, which often comes at the cost of longstanding American foreign policy interests. As political scientist Ian Bremmer recently assessed, “No serious foreign policy analyst I know (nor any ex-Trump- Admin official) has a good explanation for why Trump is so singularly enamored with Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Nor is there a political rationale. Amid Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and charges of collusion, it would almost certainly benefit Trump to distance himself from Putin and dispel rumors that he is beholden to his Russian counterpart. Instead, at every opportunity, Trump has embraced Putin and adopted positions that only raise additional suspicion about Trump’s motives and rationale. Putin’s return on investment from Trump’s presidency has been significant.

Reports June 4, 2018

Confronting the Cost of Trump’s Corruption to American Families

One of the few constants throughout the Donald J. Trump administration has been corruption. Since his first day as president, when Trump took the wholly unprecedented step of refusing to divest from his private businesses, his administration has been characterized by an unending effort by him, his family, and his senior advisers to abuse their political power for personal gain.

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The Moscow Project is an initiative of the Center for American Progress that is dedicated to uncovering the truth about Trump’s involvement in Russian attacks on our democracy.