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Excerpt of The Asset's Exclusive Interview with journalist and author Luke Harding


Max Bergmann in here. If you want more of the asset podcast please go to our patriots page. WWW dot patriots dot com slash asset podcast to to hear the full interviews with our roster experts and analysts you will also get access to my interview with Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schefter and our live event reacting to Robert Morris testimony but that's not all you also get to hear exclusive episode that we release in September that follows the mysterious various trail of dead Russians around the twenty sixteen election. Don't miss out sign up today at www dot patriots dot com. That's it's Pat R. E. N. dot com slash asset podcast the the the flippant rate but I would just say without naming names that there are many many people in in colorful doc saga who could be characterized as but I think not everybody and the degree of witness to my mind Cetinje as far as the principal guys is concerned. This donald trump is concerned. His interactions with Russia gave back all the way into the mid one thousand nine hundred eighty s his business model to a large degree was predicated on Russian money gang into his first property enterprises and and and sort of trump corporate structures he if you believe the sale dossier was US interacting with bracing Russians including people connected to the very top of the state from two thousand and thirty minutes and I think that he knew for better wise precisely what was going on. I think as I think most people do he didn't expect to win the election and I think a lot of this flows from his kind of habitual and you might say unexamined amoralism which is driven his his career his professional career in real estate and still drives him today. I'm Max Bergmann Berkman in. This is the asset joining me. is luke harding. He's British journalists the foreign correspondent for the Guardian he was based in Russia for the Guardian from two thousand seven until February a two thousand eleven when he was refused re-entry to Russia and was deported on the same day and he's been tracking the Russia investigation and credibly closely listen in fact he he wrote the book on collusion literally. The book is called Collusion and thanks for joining me today crat great to be with you so I want to start with your theory of when the trump Russia ties really were established in your book you talk about trump's trump's connection to the Soviet Union his connection to Czechoslovakia and I was wondering if you could sort of elaborate on particularly the Czechoslovakian Angle which you've done some original channel reporting on after your book came out about trump's connections to Czechoslovakian Czechoslovakian intelligence is interest in Donald Trump. It's a fascinating area and this is the recurring question. I've been asking myself for for a long time now which I think Vladimir Putin will know the answer today's and that is when did the KGB first opened its dull trump fall nat nat if this file exists in physical form we know it'll be big and several warehouses by now but at some point a KGB case officer will have taken a kind of a full sized piece of cardboard written trump Sorolla characters on it and opened up a dossier and we can we can make an informed intelligence guests and we now now I know from from material that's been discovered in the in the Czech archives in Prague that the S. T. B. The check Czechoslovak Communist intelligence agency began spying on on trump ran about the period that he was dating and then of course married in nineteen seventy seven Ivana his first wife now. This was pretty unusual. Clearly he was someone who was my bell in American Mark Business and for for for the spies in Prague he he was a natural target. We know that the for example kept tabs on Ivanka. I've read reports from I would say the late nineteen seventies where they are talking about her visits to see her parents in in provincial and chill but he mayor in a place called Lynn there reporting on the fact that two year old Dole trump junior had broken his leg poor guy the fact that they have a Swiss anti any American nanny and so on and a lot of this material is Fatty Banal. It's not terribly exciting sort of sub John Kerry but if you gave the records you can see that this continues throughout the late coble period that there are Russian while check agents who who we think is sharing that product with Moscow with the Russians who who keeping tabs on the on the trump's in in Manhattan and trump tower. They've got code names things like for example. We have a report which I found from a model collective. Czechoslovak femme more a delegation went to trump tower how long discussion with him about investments about buying planes or this was cable back to Prague by Bye bye confidential agent and source. He's now in his seventies knocks on his door. When I was in Prague last fall pushing you didn't want to talk to me but you can. I see a pattern here and the reason this is significant is of course that the check Czechoslovak security services shed routinely their intelligence product with Moscow the KGB KGB partnership. Essentially it was a punishment KGB officers working inside the SDP itself and so so you've got this check stream reporting the Czechoslovaks remember reporting and then of course we we have a kind of ramping up by the late nineteen eighty s when Donald Trump starts lots to talk for the first time about his presidential ambitions and these reports then being funneled from from the provincial Czechoslovak security services to the big guys in Prague to the first director which deals with foreign intelligence and separately what we know from from the KGB defectors Gordievsky who who spied Lebanese for British intelligence and then then escaped the Soviet Union and ended up in the UK we know that the KGB were sending out memos to their intelligence offices especially in America urging them to do more to recruit agents confidential contacts to to to basically you get more US assets and this of course is around the period that Donald Trump goes to save it mosque for the first time at the invitation of the Soviet government in this is also you know in the one thousand nine hundred eighty s you had the sort of ramped up Soviet fear of Ronald Reagan of the United States of intentions and sort of this escalation of of Russian or Soviet and eastern bloc intelligence agencies sort of desperate to find assets to cultivate with people that may have some information. Yes you have to remember is that in the nineteen hundred s and the late nineteen eighty S. people didn't know this was about to collapse. I think most people if you asked most most Soviet citizens during that period even under Gorbachev who to some degree was a reformist they thought the Soviet Union and the system would go on forever and ever and ever and what's interesting is of course Ashleigh it didn't the Soviet Union's version collapsed but I think inc what we've seen in this place into the whole kind of trump and Russia story is the system the Soviet system if not the ideology and set the methods of of espionage of KGB espionage continued and of course sore kind of big resurgence under Vladimir Putin after he became president in two thousand so so the the playbook continued even if the state with it away and died and I think all of this is important to expanding donald trump because the Russians the David Russians the the the post-communist Russians knew who trump was. They knew he was someone who fitted the kind of Paris suits they they wanted from a from a potential asset from financial contact. I almost fell off my chair laughing when I saw one top secret. KGB memo leaked by Gordievsky from from the mid nineteen eighty s a personality questionnaire about the kind of people the the the KGB wanted to approach in America and they were they were often people who are narcissistic vein who corruptible who are adulterous cheating on their wives and who were poor analysts so donald trump is not just donald trump but donald trump was the kind of KGB dream candidate. He was off the scale he was he was he takes every box walks and so he was someone who by by the Lake Co war was very much in the system of off the KGB and Eastern European allies and so in the nineteen eighties. When Donald Trump goes to Moscow you know that in some ways strike is a very unusual trip you have a guy sort of the pinnacle of or tries to serve body American capitalism going to Moscow on the the late nineteen eighty s. Maybe you could talk about that trip in how how you sort of perceive of it. I think that trip is is really quite important. If you have to understand collusion what's interesting about it is that we have a we have quite quite a witness on this the savvy passage of the new one at the time the incoming seven ambassador with someone called Dubinin his daughter worked in New York for the United Nations for the Soviet mission. Now everybody pretty much knew that the Soviet mission to the United Nations was a hotbed of KGB activity was more successful as she than other KGB residencies in America and the first thing that Dean does often after flying long haul from Moscow to the to the East eastern seaboard is to pick up his daughter drive to trump tower. Go up the executive floor. Knock on trump's door. According to the daughter water trump was pretty kind of grumpy about this grouchy and then to being in who who about a charming man he's he's dead now but he said had Mr trump in the Soviet Union. We admire you. We think you're a businessman a developer of genius and vision and and so on and do beating the daughter said that the trump melted in response to this flattery like it was like honey to a. B. Was phrase and there was a lunch there was an invitation trump was phony invited this is in the art of the deal his his memoir by by interest which was the save foreign travel agency is basically the KGB again who who decide who gets into the Soviet Union A. and Keeps Track of visitors foreign businessmen when they get so we can say that the KGB in essence brought trump to Moscow he had meetings with officials and discussed a hotel deal sale but I think what's more significant about this trip is that my my best interpretation of it is the sort of KGB and the Soviet state more Jenny Anyway Checking Donald trump hats he stayed in the National Hotel which is just around the corner from Red Square. It would be bugged. APPs it would have been on the the KGB control. I know from memoirs of former. KGB officers who defected this had been used to entrap how the farmers in the past and to blackmail them and and the trump filed the Moscow falon trump would have been supplemented by the technical readout by bugging by by conversations with trump and and there would also be in the psychological evaluation of him quite in depth. I think and just kind of curious footnote to this story is that trump comes back about three four weeks later. He says two things he festival he he announces that he is thinking about running for president of the United States this is kind of reported in the US S. media and he also takes out an advert in three American newspapers. Criticizing Ronald Reagan's foreign policy. Now trump is many things but I think even now he's not really a foreign policy specialist and this is very curious and the question is did someone put this idea in trump's head. Oh did this come from trump trump himself forgotten but it's a it's a very strange postscript to to an already strange episode. I'm Paul would hold the executive producer of the asset podcast. If you would like to hear the full hour long conversation between Max Bergmann and the Guardians Luke harding please do our patriotic page that's PAT RT O. N. Dot Com slash asset podcast patriotic dot dot com slash asset podcast to hear the full interview thank you I met in Kiev in Ukraine in about two thousand and seventy thousand eight when he was waking cavendish then prime minister who who became president in two thousand and ten not not Yanukovich was hormone false last club before he took on Donald Trump

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