Given the Kremlin’s preference for then-candidate Donald Trump, as determined in the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) assessment, it is imperative to consider how Trump’s longstanding business ties with a bevy of figures from Russia and the former Soviet Union could have been exploited in the context of the presidential campaign.
Russia’s efforts to attack and undermine American democracy did not begin or end with the 2016 election. Russia’s vast espionage and cybercapabilities continue to target the United States government, its citizens, as well as America’s democratic allies around the world.
The tangle of President Donald Trump’s Russia connections is long and complicated, but the evidence all points in the same direction: Trump has been fundamentally corrupted by Russian money and influence. Consider the comments from Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6: “What lingers for Trump may be what deals—on what terms—he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money when others in the west apparently would not lend to him.”
Liberal democracies across the globe are under attack. They are being attacked not by traditional weapons of war but by disinformation—intentionally false or misleading information designed to deceive targeted audiences. While these attacks may not pose a threat to the physical safety of democratic citizens, they do pose a threat to democracy.
Russia’s actions to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and help then-presidential candidate Donald Trump win were similar to its activities to build a network of far-right political parties and movements in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin is using this network to advance his policy objectives at home and abroad.