Cultivating an Asset

We go through the murky world of Russian intelligence. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the old-style KGB tactics didn’t go away. Under Putin, Russian intelligence has been empowered. This episode goes the story of the Illegals spy ring, deep cover Russian agents, out to gain access and influence, and which would become the inspiration for the hit television series The Americans. It shows how a recruit from one Russian Illegal, Carter Page, even 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 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 had previously pushed.

Lastly, the episode breaks down Kompromat and Donald Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. This is not just the time and place where that infamous tape took place. It is also where once again Donald Trump sought to build a tower in Moscow.


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.


Left Photo: Getty Images/Jamie Squire. Right Photo: Getty Images/Mikhail Svetlov.