Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy. Russia helped Trump through 2020.
Recent revelations about the Steele Dossier are irrelevant to the basic facts of the Trump-Russia connection. David Frum writes at The Atlantic:
The factual record on Trump-Russia has been set forth most authoritatively by the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina. I’ll reduce the complex details to a very few agreed upon by virtually everybody outside the core Trump-propaganda group.
- Dating back to at least 2006, Trump and his companies did tens of millions of dollars of business with Russian individuals and other buyers whose profiles raised the possibility of money laundering. More than one-fifth of all the condominiums sold by Trump over his career were purchased in all-cash transactions by shell companies, a 2018 BuzzFeed News investigation found.
- In 2013, Trump’s pursuit of Russian business intensified. That year, he staged the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Around that time, Trump opened discussions on the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow, from which he hoped to earn “hundreds of millions of dollars, if the project advanced to completion,” in the words of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
- Trump continued to pursue the Tower deal for a year after he declared himself a candidate for president. “By early November 2015, Trump and a Russia-based developer signed a Letter of Intent laying out the main terms of a licensing deal,” the Senate Intelligence Committee found. Trump’s representatives directly lobbied aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2016. Yet repeatedly during the 2016 campaign, Trump falsely stated that he had no business with Russia—perhaps most notably in his second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, in October 2016.
- Early in 2016, President Putin ordered an influence operation to “harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process.” Again, that’s from the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
- The Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos “likely learned about the Russian active measures campaign as early as April 2016,” the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote. In May 2016, Papadopoulos indiscreetly talked with Alexander Downer, then the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, about Russia’s plot to intervene in the U.S. election to hurt Clinton and help Trump. Downer described the conversation in a report to his government. By long-standing agreement, Australia shares intelligence with the U.S. government. It was Papadopoulos’ blurt to Downer that set in motion the FBI investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a revelation authoritatively reported more than three years ago.
- In June 2016, the Trump campaign received a request for a meeting from a Russian lawyer offering harmful information on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. and other senior Trump advisers accepted the meeting. The Trump team did not obtain the dirt they’d hoped for. But the very fact of the meeting confirmed to the Russian side the Trump campaign’s eagerness to accept Russian assistance. Shortly after, Trump delivered his “Russia, if you’re listening” invitation at his last press conference of the campaign.
- WikiLeaks released two big caches of hacked Democratic emails in July and October 2016. In the words of the Senate Intelligence Committee: “WikiLeaks actively sought, and played, a key role in the Russian intelligence campaign and very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort.”
- Through its ally Roger Stone, the Trump campaign team assiduously tried to communicate with WikiLeaks. Before the second WikiLeaks release, “Trump and the Campaign believed that Stone had inside information and expressed satisfaction that Stone’s information suggested more releases would be forthcoming,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. In late summer and early fall 2016, Stone repeatedly predicted that WikiLeaks would publish an “October surprise” that would harm the Clinton campaign.
- At the same time as it welcomed Russian help, the Trump campaign denied and covered up Russian involvement: “The Trump Campaign publicly undermined the attribution of the hack-and-leak campaign to Russia and was indifferent to whether it and WikiLeaks were furthering a Russian election interference effort,” the Intelligence Committee found.
- In March 2016, the Trump campaign accepted the unpaid services of Paul Manafort, deeply beholden to deeply shady Russian business and political figures. “On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information” with a man the Intelligence Committee identified as a Russian intelligence officer. “Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services … represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the committee found. Through 2016, the Russian state launched a massive Facebook disinformation program that aligned with the Trump campaign strategy.
- At crucial moments in the 2016 election, Trump publicly took positions that broke with past Republican policy and served no apparent domestic political purpose, but that supported Putin’s foreign-policy goals: scoffing at NATO support for Estonia, denigrating allies such as Germany, and endorsing Britain’s exit from the European Union.
- Throughout the 2016 election and after, people close to Trump got themselves into serious legal and political trouble by lying to the public, to Congress, and even to the FBI about their Russian connections.