Explainers, Reports November 27, 2018

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

On January 6, 2017, the United States intelligence community released its unclassified, official assessment of Russia’s unprecedented and unprovoked attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In the report, all 17 intelligence agencies unanimously assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election” with the specific aim of electing Donald Trump. The assessment in effect concluded that there were two campaigns to elect Trump—one operating out of Trump Tower and the other out of the Kremlin.

Since then, the Russia investigation has revealed a sprawling scandal: Members of Trump’s campaign, including those in the president’s inner circle, were in constant contact with representatives of the Russian government throughout the election and transition. The two campaigns discussed tactics and policy, including the release of “dirt” on their mutual opponent, Hillary Clinton, and rolling back American sanctions against Russia. And they executed their strategies timed to maximally benefit Trump’s chances of victory.

Following the scandal as it unfolds can feel like standing too close to an impressionist painting: It’s easy to see the individual brushstrokes, but much harder to see the whole picture they create. This report, which comprises materials previously published by the Moscow Project along with new research and analysis, takes a step back from the canvas and the day-to-day deluge of stories to provide a clear picture of how Trump’s long history of corruption created one of the biggest political scandals in American history.