There have been questions raised about Trump’s ties to dirty Russian money, but Geopolitical Futures' chairman George Friedman says many people were doing business in Russia prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“This is not to defend Trump,” explains Friedman, “it is simply to point out that prior to 2014 there was nothing at all questionable about wanting to build a hotel in Russia.”
Friedman says the takeover of Crimea changed everything: "[Trump] was doing business in Russia. Well, prior to 2014 Russia was a friendly country. Many people were doing business in Russia: Democrats, Republicans and so on. The money that was being invested by the Russians—some of it did turn out to be black money, some of it didn’t. But, he was far from the only one who was taking investment from people who it would turn out later were using it to do money laundering or something like that."
The geopolitical expert who founded Stratfor says questions about the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia are, so far, overblown.
“We have not yet seen anything to get excited about,” describes Friedman. “The mere fact that there were discussions (with the Russians before coming into office) is normal; what was discussed is the important matter.”
If there was a quid pro quo between Trump’s team and the Russians over hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers, then the situation could change. But for now, the current “scandal” engulfing Trump’s team over Russian connections is much ado about nothing in Friedman’s opinion.
“I’m far less concerned with the hysteria in Washington than I am about what exactly Trump’s policy (on Russia) is going to be,” says Friedman. “I will note that the one thing the Russians wanted—which is the lifting of sanctions—was something Trump refused to do.”
Listen to the full podcast interview with Geopolitical Futures' George Friedman and RiskHedge’s Jonathan Roth above.