Will Trump’s relationship with Putin cost him the election?

22 September 2016   
Will Trump’s relationship with Putin cost him the election?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly praised a major U.S. adversary, Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his strong leadership tactics in the far-East. It goes as far back as 2007, when Trump expressed immense support for Putin’s highly questionable actions in rebuilding Russian nationalism. "Look at Putin -- what he's doing with Russia -- I mean, you know, what's going on over there. I mean this guy has done -- whether you like him or don't like him -- he's doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period.” Similar comments spewed from the bombastic figure’s mouth throughout the years leading up to Trump’s presidential run. Along the campaign trail, Trump has made no indication that he rejects Russian aggression toward smaller border states or Russian espionage against American electoral systems. "I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect," said Trump after Putin referred to him as the clear leader in the presidential race. The man has gone so far as to condone Russia’s execution of journalists for political purposes. "He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump said in defense of the heinous practice. "I think our country does plenty of killing also." And, in what is being regarded by many legal experts as bordering on treason, Trump has encouraged the Russian government to continue to hack Democratic Party servers and leak sensitive information in an attempt to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s chances at winning in November.

This type of relationship – a relationship in which a major party’s candidate is adamantly praising one of the country’s largest adversaries – is highly unprecedented. According to Rob Glaser, the relationship might even – and certainly should – cost Trump the election.

Glaser, one of the early employees at Microsoft and founder of a major tech firm, is a major Democratic donor and political activist. He funded much of President Obama’s early political career and has invested in the Democracy Alliance. His latest endeavor, however, does less to bolster Democratic support and more to diminish what he has perceived to be a substantial threat in Trump’s policies toward Russia. Glaser is launching PutinTrump.org with the intention of highlighting the sketchy connections between Trump and the Russian president to reveal to the American public just how dangerous Trump would be for national security purposes.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Glaser discussed the new project, which he launched yesterday. He explained the degree to which this relationship is unprecedented. “Russia is directly interfering in the U.S. election through a combination of espionage and then leaking the results of that espionage in order to discredit one of the two major presidential candidates. This never happened even during the Cold War. It’s a dangerous escalation that threatens the integrity of the U.S. electoral process.” He furthered that Trump’s encouragement for such practices adds to the danger. Glaser commented that “Trump’s deep financial ties to Russia and to politically well-connected Russian oligarchs” are also rare and problematic.

Glaser then explains what he hopes to accomplish with the new project. “We’re hoping that PutinTrump.org will encourage more reporting and investigation into the troubling links we already do know about.” He also plans to ensure that voters consider the links between Trump and Putin as major election issues come November. The team plans to “raise the awareness of this massive problem to make it one of the defining issues of the 2016 presidential campaign.”

It’s clear that Glaser does not take the prospect of a Trump presidency lightly. “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.”

Ultimately, this major Democratic donor argues that “Donald Trump’s deep ties with and affinity for Vladimir Putin disqualify Trump from being President of the United States,” and thus he hopes to bring about the demise of the candidate by shedding light on this relationship.

Do you think Glaser’s project will be successful? Will Trump’s relationship with Putin bring about his demise?