The New Republic essay – rightly so – confuses Trump

Let me give you the headline of an article in the March 2 issue of The New Republic: “Donald Trump was everything Vladimir Putin could have wished for. From the time the KGB sought to cultivate it 40 years ago, Trump has been a useful minion. And if he gets another term, he can still be.

Having subscribed to The New Republic many years ago, I am fully aware that the editors never liked Republicans and reserved their harshest criticisms for former President Trump. But it’s hard to ignore the main points of the current attack on Trump.

It is undeniable that Trump has made no secret of his contempt for NATO. From Craig Unger’s essay: “Putin, you may recall, views the death of the Soviet Union as ‘the greatest disaster’ in history and has the broader ambition to not only resume the Ukraine, but also to roll back all of NATO’s advances since the collapse of the USSR. . . . “And it turns out that the most potent weapon ever devised to subvert NATO was Trump, who had done an extraordinarily good job of crippling NATO from within and planned to smash it in his second term.”

So what evidence does Unger offer for his accusations? Quoting again: “Indeed Trump, whom the KGB sought to cultivate as an asset more than 40 years ago, who played a role in laundering millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars for the Mafia which has been repeatedly bailed out by Russian and ex-Soviet agents, has in word and deed spent four decades trying to achieve one and only one foreign policy goal: to destroy NATO.

In 1984, a year after Trump Tower opened in New York, Trump sold five condos for $6 million in cash. The buyer was David Bogatin, who was an alleged member of the Russian mafia. The New York State Attorney General’s Office said that Trump – knowingly or not – “just laundered money for the Russian Mafia”. Additionally, BuzzFeed claimed that “more than 1,300 Trump-branded condos have been sold in secret, all-cash transactions that allow buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by protecting their finances and identity.” Trump’s encouragement of anonymity and all-cash “are two key predicates for money laundering” with an estimated value of $1.5 billion.

In July 1987, the KGB – Russia’s secret service – orchestrated Trump’s first visit to the Soviet Union. A few days later, full-page advertisements appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The New York Times calling for an end to NATO and asserting that countries that were part of NATO should pay for their own defense and not rely on the generosity of the United States. While there may be some truth to this proposition, it was intended to be a touchstone for Trump’s first presidential campaign. A former KGB officer told Craig Unger, “The announcement was rated by Active Measures as one of the most successful KGB operations of the time. . . . It was something important – that three major American newspapers published soundbites of the KGB.

Then, writes Unger, following the 2008 budget crisis, Trump expanded into golf course development. According to his son Eric Trump, the funding came from Russia. In 2013, Trump hosted the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, funded and produced by Aras Agalarov, a Putin-aligned oligarch.

Perhaps most telling of Trump’s attitude toward Russia are his very recent comments after Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine. It was pure kudos to the Russian dictator for handling the Ukrainian escape attempt. There has not been a word of support for the Ukrainian people who have had the Russian boot on their necks for years.

Sad to say, even Trump’s insistence that Putin would never have invaded Ukraine had he still been president was further evidence of his fondness for the communist dictator.

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Join it at [email protected].

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