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Could Donald Trump actually be Putin’s puppet?

Could Donald Trump actually be Putin’s puppet?

Could Donald Trump actually be Putin’s puppet?

After the Democratic National Committee email hacks last Friday, rumours have spread that the entire thing was orchestrated by the Russian government to undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign. 

Although the jury's still out on whether this is the case, Donald Trump's recent call for Russia to continue to hack Clinton has produced more than a little outcry.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The debacle has led many commentators to consider whether there are any potential links between Vladimir Putin and Trump, and whether Putin is influencing and aiding Trump in his campaign. As reported by The BBC, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that may be the case.

Some of Trump's staff are distinctively pro-Putin

Josh Marshall, the editor of Talking Points Memo, has worked tirelessly to expose the pro-Putin leanings of Trump staffers.

Firstly, there's Trump's foreign policy adviser Carter Page, who Marshall claims has "deep" financial ties to Russia's major energy company, Gazprom.

Then there's Paul Manafort (pictured), Trump's campaign chairman who, during his time as a political adviser in eastern Europe, worked closely with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych - a known ally of the Kremlin who was ousted from power during the mass uprising in 2014.

There's a lot of money involved

Another thing that Marshall is keen to emphasise is that there's "a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump's coffers". 

Trump's debt is currently estimated by Bloomberg to be at $630 million, and his own son admitted that the family rely on Russian investors to buy their properties. 

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Jr., said at a real estate conference in 2008. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

And a bit more money, too

"Trump’s worldview has been formed through the lens of commerce rather than the think tanks, government deliberations and international diplomatic conferences," wrote the Washington Post last month in their piece about Trump's financial ties to Russia

The piece goes into the ins and outs of who is funding who, but it's important to note that there is no evidence Trump's political views have been bought. After many failed attempts to build a Trump tower in Moscow, it's clear that he doesn't have as many important connections as it might seem. 

The Republican manifesto changed its stance on Russia

In the days before the DNC, the Republican National Committee altered their stance on Russia due to pressure from Trump. 

They amended the call for the US to provide eastern Ukraine with "lethal defensive weapons" (which would be used against Russian rebels in the region), instead saying they'd provide "appropriate assistance".

Although this implies some form of support for Russia, it's worth noting that Obama also didn't authorise sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. 

Trump doesn't care much for NATO

In what Vox is calling "the scariest thing he's said", a few weeks ago Trump revealed that he wouldn't necessarily come to the defense of a NATO ally if they were attacked. The billionaire specified that he wouldn't necessarily defend the Baltic states if Russia invaded them, unless they'd fulfilled their financial obligations. 

The Russian media have become suddenly pro-Trump

The Russian government-funded television network RT has taken a pro-Trump turn recently, and has been criticised in the past for "whitewash[ing] the actions of Putin". 

Although Putin claimed "we do not meddle” in RT, former staffers have spoken out about the government's involvement, which makes the pro-Trump angle all the more suspicious. 

Trump & Putin are fond of one another

Despite accusations Trump and old Boris Johnson are involved in a bromance, the things Putin and Trump have said about each other are sure to raise a few eyebrows. 

Putin has called Trump "bright" and "very talented" and Trump in turn has spoken of his admiration. Just today Donald Trump implied Putin said the "n word" about Obama, but followed this up with the sentence: "I hope he likes me." 

Still, a lot of this evidence is circumstantial

With questions still being asked over Russia's potential involvement in the DNC email leak, it's important that we remind you this is all conjecture for now. Very fun, and very important conjecture, as any truth in the alleged links could signal huge ramifications in the western world, but conjecture nonetheless.

[Via: The BBC]