Active Measures

Author: Gary Hart

Sometime last year a documentary entitled Active Measures was released.  A recent viewing revealed that it is a painstaking, well-documented review of Donald Trump’s activities and associations in Russia.  It makes no effort to be “fair and balanced”.  But there seems to have been no critical, documented rebuttal of the case against this continuing close association.

The crux of the matter, leading up to Trump’s unexpected presidential victory, has to do with the confluence of Russian oligarchical money, virtually all traceable to Vladimir Putin, and the global Trump hotel dynasty.

Following disastrously failed casino ventures in New Jersey, Trump experienced a series of bankruptcies and found conventional bank financing scarce.  Through ties Paul Manafort and others developed with spectacularly wealthy Russian oligarchs, money soon became available for the Trump Tower in New York, condominium developments in Florida and elsewhere, and a variety of other Trump branded hotels world-wide.

In virtually every case the money was funneled through Deutche Bank and other international banks, then through other cut-outs and shell companies, until its original sources were untraceable.  Sophisticated people think the Mueller investigation is devoting much time and energy to the cause of recreating these schemes.

From Trump Tower onward, clever Russian oligarchs invested in apartments using shell company documentation and, in many cases, flipped the apartments at huge windfalls.

Even with the evidence provided by the Active Measures documentary, it will take years, even decades, to piece these intricate schemes together.

In the meantime, it does lay the base for understanding Trump’s bizarre, some have alleged treasonous, attitude toward Russia.  Even as Trump & Co. claim they are being tougher on the Russians than any previous president (Reagan is rolling in his grave), at least five separate discussions between Trump and Putin remain undocumented or all records held in Trump’s personal possession.  The most blatant and unprecedented was the two hour meeting in Helsinki with only translators present and their notes sequestered by Trump himself.

Given this history, only two explanations are possible: either Trump has been totally stupid, or he kept the business side with Russia in operation up to and through the election not ever expecting that he would be elected.

The latter would certainly explain his pre- and post-election antagonism toward the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the U.S. Government.  Never having read the U.S. Constitution, he believed the U.S. Department of Justice was his personal law firm and, until his new Attorney General recused himself from the Mueller investigation, that Sessions and Justice would protect him from the FBI, CIA, and Justice itself.

If Active Measures (a KGB code phrase for extraordinary operations) is only partially accurate, Mr. Trump is facing serious trouble.  If the possibility of indictment or impeachment exists, Russian money still underwriting Trump hotel operations will disappear rather than be implicated.  Thus, the political house of cards is in turn resting on a financial house of cards.  Mr. Trump is heavily leveraged both ways.

It would require a Shakespeare to construct a drama of an angry, unhinged king who loses both his kingdom and his fortune.

Meanwhile, the respectability of the United States of America is at risk.  If the worst possible thing occurs, and it could, what will be our standing with the democratic leaders and nations of the world?

Which leads to the next national election.  While media focus is on the new, the young, the attractive, the sensational, the most progressive of the sizable candidate wave, what we may require is a statesman or woman of historic standing, reputation, experience, and credibility to repair the damage, restore our friendships and alliances, and create the foundation of trust without which a great nation cannot lead.

We could well be headed at rapid speed toward a situation unprecedented in American history where high degrees of sobriety and statesmanship are required to restore the course of this nation’s ship of state.

9 Responses to “Active Measures”

  1. Max Dunitz Says:

    The president’s chaos and systematic destruction of the State Department will render our standing in the world refractory to repair by all but the ablest leader most suited to the moment—the stateswoman or man.

    Still, the more I read about Trump’s background—and the more I watch panelists at the World Economic Forum—the more I’m drawn toward whichever candidate will impose the highest tax rates on the rich.

    It is hard to decouple the loss of decency and sanity in our politics from the ballooning economic inequality on our planet.

    But overhauling the global financial system, taxing the rich, implementing the global Green New Deal, targeting aid to climate hot spots, articulating a progressive vision for trade, dismantling much of the security state and reimagining the military—these attractive, bold, progressive policies will all require careful collaboration with our international partners and tremendous diplomatic skill up and down the whole federal bureaucracy. A bureaucracy where, currently, Islamophobic conspiracy theorists are carrying out a rude unhinging of all the machinery and memory necessary for this effort.

    Good luck steering the campaign coverage to toward the difficulty of righting this ship. I’m thrilled, frankly, that we are at least talking about taxes and not emails.

  2. Brian McCarthy Says:


    You at least were, and likely still are, friends with former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev and you know Russia. If you are in a position to say so, what does HE think of the current state of American politics with Mr Trump at the helm? If you are not in a position to say that, then at the least, what do you think the current Russian leadership, Mr Putin, really thinks of him? Is Ttump positioning himself for future financial investments in Russia or does he really believe Putin is anything other than a nationalistic, imperialistic, militaristic former KGB official who is playing him like a puppet? Either way – is there any consideration for what is good for the US or is it just what is good for Trump future investments in Russia?


  3. Gary Hart Says:

    I have not been in direct contact with President Gorbachev for some time, Brian. And the Russian press pays little attention to him or his views. So, the short answer to your first question is “we don’t know.” My guess is he has little regard for our current president. And who can read Mr. Putin’s mind. What the documentary Active Measures suggests is that Mr. Trump sees no daylight between his presidency and his business. GH

  4. John Dedie Says:

    What are your thoughts on the 2020 candidates? IMO VP Biden can reach the most voters.


    Been very busy and missed out on a couple of articles here on my favourite site of my favourite person in politics.

    Very poignant and powerful to read this, both words I would use of the wonderful speech of your own State , rep in the Senate, Michael Bennet, who I now think could be your best potential candidate for President, so far have been for Elizabeth Warren or Joe Kennedy, wondering though whether you might see this man as a possible candidate, he seems that combination of moderate and common sense, passionate and common decency, needed.

  6. Gary Hart Says:

    Max got the principle point in the essay: a high degree of statesmanship will be required to set the ship of state right by restoring collective action with our allies. John and Lorenzo request my nominee on the Democratic side, but I don’t have a favorite yes. The last paragraphs of the essay suggest someone with wide international experience to repair our alliances perhaps more than a new, younger, radically “progressive” candidate of which there are several. There are a lot of attractive candidates with much to offer, with gender, generational, and ideological divides. The field will narrow quickly after the early caucuses and primaries. GH

  7. Paul G Says:

    Max is a protégé of MIT director, Bryan Moser (1987 pro-Hart student leader).

  8. Joel W Says:

    I suggest you read the new book, “Proof of Collusion.”

  9. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    Followed by “War With Russia?” by Stephen F. Cohen.

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