Cracking the Shell: Trump, Corporate Transparency, and the Corrupting Potential of Russian Money

A foreign power can exploit systemic vulnerabilities such as gaps in money laundering regulations, lack of corporate transparency, and insufficient anti-corruption measures to undermine democratic institutions and influence elections anywhere around the world, including in the United States. Corroding a system from within through corruption and financial leverage has been a central pillar of the Kremlin’s political tactics in Europe and in post-Soviet states. In this vein, the 2016 U.S. presidential election is a useful lens through which to analyze just how such methods could be deployed in the United States. Given the Kremlin’s preference for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, as determined in the Director of National Intelligence assessment, it is imperative to consider how his long-standing business ties with a bevy of figures from Russia and the former Soviet Union could have been exploited in the context of the campaign and beyond.

The Center for American Progress is releasing a report that takes a sustained look at the decadeslong conversion of President Trump’s business interests with that of Russia’s moneyed elite and considers how this relationship could have evolved into one of political currency. More broadly, this assessment lays bare certain domestic regulatory gaps—particularly with respect to corporate transparency, campaign finance disclosure, and money laundering interdiction—which pose a threat not only to the U.S. elections but to national security as well. By recognizing the key role that illicit and furtive money plays in the undermining of democratic institutions, the United States should treat money laundering, conflicts of interest, and bribery as the foreign policy threats that they are.

Please join CAP Action, along with leading national security, Eurasia, and illicit finance experts to discuss the challenges at hand and solutions to close the financial loopholes that threaten to corrode American democracy from within.

Introductory remarks:
Neera Tanden, CEO, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Featured remarks:
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Featured panelists:
Heather Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Director of the Europe Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Franklin Foer, National Correspondent, The Atlantic

Diana Pilipenko, Associate Director, Anti-Corruption and Illicit Finance, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Moderated by:
Liz Kennedy, Senior Director, Government and Democratic Reform

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