Since 2008, Russia has been cultivating and supporting Trump in his political efforts, with exchanges of intelligence taking place over a period of at least 8 years up to 2016. This operation was supported and directed by Vladimir Putin with the aim to sow discord and disunity within the US and among its allies. As part of this relationship, Russia fed Trump and his team intelligence on his opponents, including Clinton. In exchange, Trump and his associates obtained and supplied to Russia intelligence on the activities in the US, business and otherwise, of leading Russian oligarchs and their families.
“Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.” Source
In 2004, Donald Trump purchased “Maison de l’Amitie,” a huge, some say tasteless mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, for $41 million at a bankruptcy auction. After performing very minor renovations, Trump put it on the market in 2006 at an apparently, unreasonably high price of $125 million. After being on the market for 2 years, on July 15, 2008, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased the home for $100 million, a profit of around $50 million for Trump. Rybolovlev never lived in the home, and appears only to have visited once before demolishing the property. The lot was subdivided into three parcels, the largest one of which sold in 2015 for $34 million. It is speculated Rybolovlev may lose around $20 million in the deal. Source
Note that Trump happened to be cash-poor in 2008, which was the same year that Deutsche Bank sued Trump for defaulting on his payments for a $640 million loan.
In 2008, Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr. spoke at a real estate conference in Latvia, saying that he frequently traveled to Russia. “In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets, say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Source
In 2011, Donald Trump settled a lawsuit filed by buyers of units in Trump SoHo, a Manhattan condo–hotel, who claimed Trump and his children had defrauded them by making inflated claims about brisk sales in the struggling project. During the lawsuit, it was revealed that funding for the project was provided in part by Bayrock, a development company controlled by Tevfik Arif, a former Soviet commerce official from Kazakhstan, and Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant.
In 2010, Arif was on board a luxury yacht raided by police in Turkey, who were investigating a suspected prostitution ring that catered to wealthy businessmen.
Sater had been implicated in a $40 million stock fraud scheme involving Mafia figures (e.g., the Genovese and Bonanno crime families) and Russian criminals, and pleaded guilty in 1998 to racketeering. He became a confidential FBI informant for more than a decade to avoid prison, informing on the Mafia and on national security-related matters. His information led to the conviction of over 20 people, including members of La Cosa Nostra.
It was also revealed that Bayrock occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.
In 2013, Journalist James Dodson alleged that Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump told him, while golfing together, that the Trumps relied on Russian backers to finance their golf courses. Trump later denied it, but Dodson insisted, and multiple colleagues of Dodson later recalled him telling them about the statement in 2013. Source
In 2013, in an interview that aired on MSNBC, Donald Trump said he had a relationship with Vladimir Putin. Trump was effusive in his praise of Putin and his actions in Syria, comparing him directly to Obama and judging Putin to be superior. Source
Emails dated June 3–9, 2016, released by Donald Trump, Jr. confirm that Russia shared, or at least tried to share, intelligence on Clinton with the Trump campaign. In addition, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has revealed that the Russian government had been making overtures to the Trump campaign to provide them with stolen emails from Hillary Clinton and requesting high-level meetings, since March or April 2016.
Also Circumstantially Confirmed
Information abounds about Trump’s interest in Russia and Trump campaign members’ contacts with senior Russian officials.
The Steele allegations fit with Putin’s apparent long-term global strategy to drive right-wing sentiment and destabilize Western countries, weakening alliances such as NATO. Source
Further, Trump’s close involvement with Arif and Sater, both ex-convicts with connections to La Cosa Nostra and the Russian mafia, is troubling. Sater’s position as a known informant on mob members, and his later connections to a Russian proposal on taking control of Ukraine, further support that he maintained high-level connections in Russia.