Trump isn’t a fringe candidate like Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage, he’s the nominee of one of the two major parties in the U.S., the most powerful country on earth. The damage that could, and I fear would, be done if Trump were elected president would be profound.
Because we’re in such uncharted waters it’s hard to predict exactly what would happen in a Putin-Trump world. Might Putin engage in a full-on invasion of Ukraine thinking he has Trump’s blessing or at least acquiescence? Might Putin feel emboldened by his ability to subvert U.S. democracy through cyberhacks that he will go all in on doing so throughout Central Europe until he has re-created the hegemony of the Soviet era?
And back in the U.S., what will Trump’s admiration for Putin mean for Trump’s willingness to subvert democracy to get his way and to pad his own pockets? We’re already seeing an unprecedented lack of transparency by Trump—for instance him not releasing his tax returns. I think there’s a real risk of a Trump presidency turning into a full-on kleptocracy.
Frum: So tell us more about the new project. What exactly are you planning to do? Do you have wider ambitions than collecting and stockpiling information?
Glaser: We have three big goals for PutinTrump.org.
The first is to be the world’s definitive place to find rigorous reporting, lucid analysis, and thoughtful opinions on the dangerous and unprecedented connections between the head of Russia and a major-party presidential nominee.
The second is to raise the awareness of this massive problem to make it one of the defining issues of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The third is that by raising the issue in a thoughtful and rigorous way, and by raising the profile of the issues surrounding the Trump-Putin nexus, we want to persuade as many people as possible—including many who might otherwise seriously consider voting for him—that Donald Trump’s deep ties with and affinity for Vladimir Putin disqualify Trump from being President of the United States.
How we achieve these three goals may evolve over time (although we recognize that time is short with the election less than 50 days away). For instance, we’re hoping that PutinTrump.org will encourage more reporting and investigation into the troubling links we already do know about as well as potentially raising new issues.
Frum: The conventional opinion holds that foreign policy make relatively little impact on American voters, except in times of outright war. What impact do you hope for from this effort?
Glaser: As you point out, under normal circumstances foreign policy rarely determines elections. But the Putin-Trump situation is so highly abnormal that I’m not sure that this rule of thumb applies. What’s the last time a major U.S. presidential candidate ever spoke lavishly about one of our adversaries and urged that adversary to commit burglary against his opponent? What’s the last time that adversary overtly interfered with our electoral system by stealing information and then using that information to overtly try to discredit one of our two major party nominees?