A new book claims that the KGB cultivated former President Donald Trump as a Russian asset for four decades, the Guardian reports.
Former Russian spy Yuri Shvets, a source for Craig Unger’s American Kompromat: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery, told the newspaper that the KGB “had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.”
According to Unger’s book, the KGB took interest in Trump after he married first wife Ivana, who was born and raised in communist Czechoslovakia.
Trump’s possible connections with Russia were one of the defining controversies of his presidency. Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help Trump get elected, and several of his associates were alleged to have had communications with Russian intelligence during his campaign.
“This is an example where people were recruited when they were just students and then they rose to important positions; something like that was happening with Trump,” Shvets told the Guardian.
A reviewer for Kirkus calls Unger’s book “a must-read. The gun’s not quite smoking, but the barrel’s plenty hot, and there are Russian shell casings all around.”
And reviewing American Kompromat for the Washington Post, former CIA spy John Sipher writes that author Unger “starts from the premise that Trump is a Kremlin asset and proceeds to advance the argument with great detail.
“By compiling decades of Trump’s seedy ties, disturbing and consistent patterns of behavior, and unexplained contacts with Russian officials and criminals, Unger makes a strong case that Trump is probably a compromised trusted contact of Kremlin interests,” Sipher writes.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.