Monday, September 28, 2020

Could Russia Have Used Donald Trump's Business Problems to Recruit Him?

Recent news stories report that President Donald Trump didn't pay any income taxes in 10 of the 15 years starting with 2000. He reportedly paid only $750 in income taxes in each of 2016 and 2017. (See, e.g., He supposedly took massive write-offs on his tax returns for business expenses and losses to avoid taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars of income.  These reports, if accurate, raise crucially important questions about whether Trump is the successful businessman he claims to be.  More chillingly, these reports raise questions about whether his business problems gave Russia leverage to recruit him as an agent.

When recruiting spies, intelligence services look for weaknesses.  One potentially useful weakness is financial need or financial stress.  A man with business problems is a possible target.  Could Russia have used Trump's business problems to recruit him as an agent?  Trump may be financially connected to Russia or Russians through Deutsche Bank, which has been a major lender to Trump and his companies. See  While no firm connection between Trump and Russia or Russians through Deutsche Bank has been established, Deutsche Bank has confirmed it has some of Trump's tax returns. See   So Deutsche Bank may well have known about Trump's massive tax write-offs.  Whether or not Russia knew about Trump's write-offs, it may have known that he needed funding.  U.S. intelligence has said that Russia sought to help Trump get elected in 2016 and is working to get him re-elected this year. What greater intelligence coup could there be than to have one's agent elected the national leader of an adversarial nation? 

So we have to ask whether Trump's business problems gave Russia an opening to recruit him.  The FBI may have been looking into this question, but the fate of its investigation seems to be clouded. See  Trump has been highly critical of the FBI and his Department of Justice is investigating the FBI's handling of the 2016 Russian interference in the Presidential election and also its investigation into the Clinton Foundation. See Is Trump trying to cow the FBI into avoiding a thorough investigation of his links with Russia and Russians?  

America deserves a complete investigation of Trump and his links to Russia and Russians.  That seems unlikely today, with Trump seemingly attempting to strip professionalism from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.  In the meantime, Americans can express their views of all this in the upcoming election.  Will America be truly secure with such a potentially vulnerable man in the White House?