Millions of words have been written about whether Putin interfered in the2016 election to help Trump. The matter will be debated for years to come, and I do not think the definitive answer has been revealed. Trump’s behavior while in office supported the belief that he was indebted to Putin. He was obsequious to Putin whenever they met. He always spoke admiringly about him and implied that they had a special friendship, akin to his “love affair” with the North Korean tyrant.

This article appeared in The Guardian in July 2021.

It begins:

Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.

The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present.

They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position.

Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature.

By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use “all possible force” to ensure a Trump victory.

Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin…

The report – “No 32-04 \ vd” – is classified as secret. It says Trump is the “most promising candidate” from the Kremlin’s point of view. The word in Russian is perspektivny.

There is a brief psychological assessment of Trump, who is described as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex”.

There is also apparent confirmation that the Kremlin possesses kompromat,or potentially compromising material, on the future president, collected – the document says – from Trump’s earlier “non-official visits to Russian Federation territory”.

The paper refers to “certain events” that happened during Trump’s trips to Moscow. Security council members are invited to find details in appendix five, at paragraph five, the document states. It is unclear what the appendix contains.

There is more to read. It’s impossible to know whether these documents are truthful. Yet Trump’s lapdog attitude toward Putin and the dissension he caused as President, as well as his outright hostility towards NATO and our allies support the veracity of the document. The analysis of his character is spot on. Even recently, as Putin invaded Ukraine, Trump continued to praise him.

Someday historians will resolve the question. But not yet.