Reports February 14, 2018

Cracking the Shell: Trump and the Corrupting Potential of Furtive Russian Money


A foreign power can exploit systemic vulnerabilities—such as gaps in money laundering regulations, lack of corporate transparency, and insufficient anti-corruption controls—to undermine democratic institutions and influence elections anywhere around the world, including in the United States. Corroding a system from within through corruption and financial leverage has been a central part of the Kremlin playbook in Europe and in post-Soviet states. The 2016 U.S. presidential election is a useful lens through which to analyze how such methods could be deployed in the United States. 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 campaign.