Since first launched in February 2017, the Trump-Russia Timeline has grown to more than 600 entries. The amazing thing is not the number of Trump’s contacts with Russia. The amazing thing is that Trump and staff have repeatedly denied connections to Russia.
The truth is that Trump haad contacts with Russia for 30 years! Trump’s first trip to Russia came in the fall of 1986. Trump was the perfect example of a personalty that the Russians might target to use to their benefit. The Russians sought to manipulate men by gathering “Compromising information about subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft … and exploitation of his position to enrich himself.” Plus “any other information” that would compromise the subject before “the country’s authorities and the general public.” Naturally the KGB could exploit this by threatening “disclosure.” In addition to fitting that description, Trump was targeted due to his relations with women. Because he was “in the habit of having affairs with women ” Trump was vulnerable to blackmail.
Trump himself disclosed his ties to Russia in his own book. His first trip to Russia was documented in his book the Art of the Deal. It was autumn of 1986 when Trump first traveled to Russia. He attended a luncheon held by Leonard Lauder, the businessman son of Estée Lauder. Trump admitted in his book that “One thing led to another, and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government.”
Weeks after his first Trump meeting, Dubinin, Trump’s contact with Russia, was named Soviet ambassador to Washington. In The Art of the Deal, Trump writes: “In January 1987, I got a letter from Yuri Dubinin, the Soviet ambassador to the United States, that began: ‘It is a pleasure for me to relay some good news from Moscow.’ It went on to say that the leading Soviet state agency for international tourism, Goscomintourist, had expressed interest in pursuing a joint venture to construct and manage a hotel in Moscow.”
There were many ambitious real estate developers in the United States—why had Moscow picked Trump? On July 4, 1987, Trump flew to Moscow for the first time, together with Ivana and Lisa Calandra, Ivana’s Italian-American assistant. Nothing came of the trip—at least nothing in terms of business opportunities inside Russia. This pattern of failure would be repeated in Trump’s subsequent trips to Moscow. But Trump flew back to New York with a new sense of strategic direction. For the first time he gave serious indications that he was considering a career in politics. Not as mayor or governor or senator. Trump was thinking about running for president.