The second basis for recruitment, the historian says, is “material.” Imagine that the Russians promised Trump some deal “in exchange for … in exchange for what? That the latter would sometime run for president and win?” According to Vasiliyev, “to such conditions, perhaps, Trump could agree. Many would.”
“Sometimes people say that perhaps [Trump] gave the KGB a note: ‘I, Donald Trump, am obliged to provide support to the peace-loving policy of the Soviet Union by supplying secret information …’ and so on.” But Russian intelligence services would never agree to that arrangement because “the agent” in this case could always walk away.
“Could Trump have been an agent of influence?” Vasiliyev asks. “He sometimes toyed with political activity. But whom or what would he influence? And was he an agent? Perhaps, he acted on the basis of his own convictions? ‘What would be the evidence’” that he did otherwise?
That leaves the third basis of recruitment – “moral-psychological” –to be considered in Trump’s case. This category includes “everything which isn’t included in the first two” ranging from a desire for revenge to fear of exposure of sexual dalliances,” the Moscow historian and journalist continues.
“Let us assume that the Russians have a video in which Trump engages in sex with a prostitute. Or with a man. Or, let’s take an extreme case, with a member of the CPSU.” And then with this video in hand, Moscow threatens Trump with exposure unless Trump does what the Kremlin wants.
But if this were the case, how does one explain the fact that Trump, during the two years of his presidency, has done many things that harm Russia? “He only says that he respects Putin but the flood of bad actions doesn’t end.” That is not how things would work if Trump were an agent under such a recruitment scenario.
There is an even more important consideration, Vasiliyev suggests. “Even if Moscow has compromising materials on Trump, Putin would never use it. He would not even hint that he did because to do so would transform Trump into his personal enemy. And that is something Putin certainly doesn’t need.”.