The Asset

By District Productive

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Description

The Asset is a deep dive into Trump's history with Russia, from his extensive business dealings with Russian oligarchs to his presidential campaign and the investigations that have sent some of his closest associates to prison.

Hosted by Max Bergmann, a senior fellow and director of the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and featuring expert guests, The Asset will put together the pieces of Trump’s relationship with Russia.




Episode Date
Cultivating An Asset
01:13:33

Join us as we go through the murky world of Russian intelligence. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the old-style KGB tactics didn’t go away. Instead, the Russian intelligence apparatus has been empowered. This episode goes through the story of the Russian “illegals” spy ring operating in the U.S., examining the back story of these deep cover Russian agents who would later become the inspiration for the hit television series “The Americans”. We also show how one of the American men recruited by a Russian spy, Carter Page, eventually rose up to become one of Trump’s initial foreign policy advisors.

In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, shows how Russia sought to infiltrate and cultivate the far right movement in the United States, locking in on guns and the NRA as the most effective way to do so. It breaks down the story of Maria Butina, a Russian agent currently behind bars.

This episode also hones in on Donald Trump’s reemergence on the political scene with his embrace of the birther conspiracy theory and shows how that conspiracy mirrors the same sorts of disinformation campaigns that Soviet and Russian intelligence love to push.

Lastly, the episode breaks down the idea of kompromat and examines Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. This isn’t just the trip where that infamous tape took place. It is also where Trump once again was seeking to do business in Russia.

The Asset tells the full story of Trump and Russia. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how Russia helped the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States.



Jun 18, 2019
Stumbling to the Presidency
01:01:55

Throughout his adult life, Donald Trump has relied on his father and others to rescue him from the sad disappointments in his business life. 

From bankruptcies, through lawsuits, to mob ties and shady business deals,Tim O' Brien, the author of Trump Nation, walks us through the legacy of failure and self-destruction that has defined Donald Trump's business career.

In this bonus episode of The Asset, we break from the format as host Max Bergmann, the director of the Moscow Project, and journalist Tim O'Brien have an extensive conversation about Donald Trump's repeated business fiascoes that blemish his checkered legacy.


Jun 11, 2019
New Cold War
00:57:18

The fight over Ukraine’s future is key to the Trump-Russia story. It is central to understanding why, in 2016, Russia undertook such a brazen and risky assault on American democracy.

 Russia’s attempt to reassert itself as a great power and exert control over Ukraine led to a collapse in U.S.-Russia relations. Color revolutions in former Soviet states, including two major uprisings in Ukraine, aggravated Putin’s suspicions of the West and made him determined to prevent similar dissent within Russia. When massive protests broke out in Russia following the December 2011 elections, he blamed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, traces how Putin, in fighting for control of Ukraine, brought on a new confrontation with the United States. But Russia’s weak economy and inability to directly respond to US and EU sanctions, ultimately forced Putin to get creative and brush off the old KGB playbook. The target: American democracy.

 The Asset tells the full story of Trump and Russia. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how Russia helped the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States.

Jun 04, 2019
From Russia With Cash
00:50:28

Russian Money was pouring out of Russia into the US real estate market and Donald Trump was all about it. We follow the Russian money flowing into the Trump Organization, highlighting the shady cast of characters that surround Donald Trump and his businesses from the suspicious deals in the former Soviet Union, to “little Moscow” where Trump concentrated his properties in Florida, to the story behind Trump’s favorite bank. Trump may not have a lot of money in Russia but Russia sure has money in Donald Trump.

In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, shows how Trump changed his business model to tap into the Russian market. Suddenly the Trump Organization wasn’t really in the development business. It was in the real estate licensing business, hiring all sorts of shady brokers to help it tap into the Russian market.

Yet somehow after the worst real estate crisis since the Great Depression, Trump suddenly found himself with loads of unexplained cash. Trump went into the worst real estate market in real trouble and comes out on the other side able to spend absurd amounts of cash on golf courses, as well as having a new line of credit from Deutsche Bank, a bank that had just sued him for defaulting on his loans. This does not add up. Except, in many ways, it does. It just requires factoring in Russia.  

 

The Asset tells the full story of Trump and Russia. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how Russia helped the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States.


May 29, 2019
The Sistema
00:45:06

To understand the Russian interference in the 2016 election, it is essential to understand Vladimir Putin. And to understand Putin, you need to understand his KGB past, his rise to power, his fight for control of Russia, and the system--The Sistema--he created.

The collapse of the Soviet Union set off a mad violent scramble to take control over its vast state-held industrial sector. Organized crime flourished and The Oligarchs were born: a new class of noveau-riche businessmen capturing all the wealth. They move their money abroad and are a force unto themselves. Until KGB drives its comeback with Vladmir Putin behind the wheel .

In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, shows how Putin goes from political unknown to president in a matter of months, setting his sights on taking control. One of Putin’s first priorities: Bring the oligarchs to heel and put them under state control.

As Putin’s power consolidates and strengthens over the ensuing two decades, an informal system or Sistema took root. This system is also staggeringly corrupt and makes Putin shockingly wealthy. A key requirement of operating in Putin’s Sistema is you have to be corrupt. That means that anyone and everyone in The Sistema is also compromised. The oligarchs become tools of Putin and the Kremlin. As Russian oligarchs went out into the world and spread their money around, bought property, made investments, built connections and developed relationships; they were also developing relationships and connections that could be seized and cultivated by Putin’s Kremlin. This would soon include a relationship being cultivated with an organization based in a tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

 

The Asset tells the full story of Trump and Russia. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how Russia helped the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States.

May 21, 2019
Bankrupt
00:44:41

Donald Trump’s businesses failed; a lot. He bankrupted hotels, casinos, an airline and—even an entire football league. And when they failed Trump needed someone to bail him out. And up until the late 1990s that person was his dad.

Yet despite Trump’s businesses failures, he came to personify the image of American wealth and success in the 1980s. It was an era of a roaring stock market and Wall Street extravagance and no one seemed to embody the fabulously wealthy lifestyle more than Donald Trump. He cultivated that image and became a celebrity.

In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, shows that when Trump wrote The Art of the Deal, when he was on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, when he was being listed in Forbes as one of the wealthiest people in the world, it was all a fraud. It was an act. As everything was falling apart around him, Trump proved a master at keeping up appearances – at living a double life. He convinced the public, the media, and banks that he was a great businessman when in fact, he was bankrupt.

During this period Trump also rubbed shoulders with mobsters and even got on the radar of the KGB – even going to Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the United States.

As the 1990s became the 2000s, Donald Trump’s dad was no longer around to bail him out. But traditional banks would not lend to him, coining the term “the Donald Risk.” Yet Trump was able to build project after project by turning to a new class of uber-wealthy buyers and investors from Russia and the former Soviet Union. The question would soon become: who was cultivating whom?

 

The Asset tells the full story of Trump and Russia. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how Russia helped the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States.


May 14, 2019
Whirlwind
00:33:53

The scandal of Russian interference became Topic # 1 in the first six months of 2017. In a whirlwind of bombshell stories and breaking developments, Trump’s Russia ties went from a fringe topic, ignored by the national media, to a national media obsession.

During the 2016 election, candidate Trump’s laudatory comments about Russia were, frankly, weird. For 70 years, the Republican Party had defined itself by being hawkish on Russia. In the previous presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said Russia was “without question, our #1 geopolitical foe.”

During the campaign, Trump had flip-flopped on a whole series of positions to align with traditional GOP values. But on the subject of Russia and Vladimir Putin, Trump remained steadfast. He unabashedly praised and defended the Russian leader.

In this episode of The Asset, host Max Bergmann, the director of The Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, rewinds the tape and takes us through the blurred timeline from the launch of Donald Trump’s campaign to the beginning of the Mueller investigation. Max brings into sharp focus the details of the greatest political scandal in American history: the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

The daily deluge of information makes Trump’s relationship with Russia seem even more confusing and complex. It is almost like reading a novel with the pages out of order.

The Asset puts the pages back in order, starting just as the FBI would if it were conducting a counter-intelligence investigation. We’ll follow the money. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters and dirty deals that populate the story of how the son of a shady real estate mogul became President of the United States with the help of a ruthless autocrat trying to undermine the United States and re-establish the glory of his fading superpower on the global stage.

May 07, 2019
Trailer: Polezni Durak is Russian for Useful Idiot
00:06:54

For decades, Donald Trump has cultivated Russian money and investment to keep his hotels and other business interests afloat. But as Trump was cultivating Russian money; Vladimir Putin’s Russia was cultivating him. With Putin consolidating power at home and trying to revive Russia as a great power abroad, he faced a challenge: democracy. “Color revolutions” – pro-democracy uprisings - threatened Russia’s rise and Putin’s rule. He blamed the United States and sought to hit back where we were most vulnerable: our politics. Donald Trump became the perfect vehicle; the ideal asset. As Trump’s campaign built up steam, Russia set up its own campaign to support him. These two campaigns shared the same goals, same tactics, and were in constant contact. In other words, these campaigns colluded. Since coming to office, Trump has continued to align himself with Putin, all while trying to obstruct the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and his own campaign’s complicity in that effort.

 Host Max Bergmann is a veteran of the State Department who worked on sensitive military and national security issues under Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry. He now runs an initiative for the Center for American Progress Action Fund called The Moscow Project. For the past two years, he and his team have been examining Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Beginning with this trailer of The Asset, you will hear everything they have learned over the past two years to help you make sense of the biggest political scandal in American history, including elements of our exclusive interviews with:

Tim O'Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion and author of Trump Nation

Angela Stent, Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and director of its Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and author of Putin's World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest

Luke Harding, Foreign Correspondent for The Guardian and author of CollusionSecret MeetingsDirty Moneyand How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win

Asha Rangappa, former Special Agent for the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence investigations in New York City

 John Sipher, former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, and in high-threat environments, including Moscow

 David Corn Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones and co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump





Apr 26, 2019