Bob Baer

Bob Baer, former undercover CIA operative and current CNN correspondent, talks Trump and Russia during a free event at the Wilkinson Public Library Thursday night. (Photo by Justin Criado/Telluride Daily Planet)

 

Bob Baer says he knows some of President Donald Trump’s Soviet secrets. The former undercover CIA operative divulged what he’s learned about Trump’s long-running relationship with Russia — specifically the KGB — during a free community event Thursday night at the Wilkinson Public Library. At the Telluride TV-sponsored talk, he explained the chumminess with the Communists dates back to 1986, when Trump, then a real estate developer in New York City, attended a cocktail party that included KGB agents, unbeknownst to Trump. America’s future president unwittingly became an “agent of influence,” which Baer explained is a person who is “susceptible to KGB manipulation, but the word KGB never comes up.” 

During that time, he added, a KGB “illegal” (the term for an undercover KGB agent) filled Trump’s head with anti-Ronald Reagan rhetoric and delusions of grandeur, including planting the possibility of a U.S. presidential run, during a 1991 visit to the former Soviet Union, which was close to collapse and “broke.” 

“It was a piece of flattery,” Baer said. “The Russians started his political aspirations,” 

The “criminalization” of the KGB, the Soviet Union’s formal intelligence agency, begins during the collapse, Baer explained. 

“What we have to look at it in this way, in 1991, the KGB didn’t give up, they simply retreated and regrouped,” he added.  

Russian immigrants, including KGB illegals, began settling in Brighton Beach, New York, which is the start of the Russian mafia in America, Baer explained. The mob bosses worked out of Trump’s Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino. Trump, who needed money to finance his endeavors, started taking “Russian money,” according to Baer. 

Moderator Sarah Holbrooke, Telluride TV board president, asked, “So what did you know, and when did you know it?” 

The scenario may sound like a “Godfather” spinoff, but Baer began digging after becoming privy to the Trump-Russia ties during the 2016 election cycle, when he received a tip from a current Democratic operative who asked him to reach out to an ex-KGB officer. 

“I knew from the phone number from the FBI that it was a legit KGB guy,” he said. 

He added that the man on the other end of line said, “We have a tape of Donald Trump.”

“What I didn’t know was how did the guy see the tape? Why should I believe him? Was this KGB disinformation?” said Baer, a current CNN intelligence and security analyst who lives in the Telluride area. “I worked with the KGB for years in the CIA. They’re very good at making stuff up. I knew that Russian President Vladimir Putin (a former KGB foreign intelligence officer) wants to disrupt our democracy at any cost, and, of course, he has. He’s done a great job of it.”

Baer said he “filed away” the information until the Steele dossier was released in January, which alleges misconduct and conspiracy between Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 election. He added that the music video for Russian pop-star’s Emin Agalarov “Got Me Good,” which came out in June, depicts an alleged incident with Trump and two women during the 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow, which he hosted with Emin’s father, Aras. Baer proclaimed the Agalarovs are KGB agents. It is unclear if the Trump video the Russians maintain to have is from the 2013 Miss Universe contest. Baer did explain that a popular tactic the KGB like to employ involves planting a camera in a hotel room air conditioning vent in order to capture less-than-flattering encounters, usually with a “lady of the night.”  

“All of those things are telling me that Russia is poking us in the eye,” he said.

He explained that he used the contacts he’s collected over the years to conduct his independent investigation. 

“As a former CIA officer will do, I went back to my old KGB contacts,” Baer said of his recent research. “I said, ‘What happened? What’s the relationship between Donald Trump and the KGB.’ (His contacts) proceeded to lay it out.”

He explained that the U.S. intelligence agencies (i.e. FBI and CIA) quit monitoring Russian activity after the 1991 collapse, and didn’t resume monitoring until 2016. 

“It’s been a black hole,” he said. “We’re not looking at it.” 

During a Q&A, an attendee asked why the U.S. quit Russian surveillance so abruptly.

“The curtain dropped down because we were patting ourselves on the back for winning the Cold War,” Baer said. (He added that he may turn what he’s discovered into a TV series; working title: “How the KGB won the Cold War.”) 

The Hillary Clinton email debacle? It was the Russians.  

“They hacked Hillary’s email and the Democratic National Convention’s simply to cause problems after she was elected president. That’s all they wanted,” he said. “They hated her for the Ukraine. They hated her for Russian elections. They said, ‘This is great. We’ll get in her email. She’s elected president and we’ll go after her. We’ll make her miserable and the Democratic Party for four years. Then, we’ll get back in and we’ll do it again.’ Disruption. That’s what Putin is after.” 

When it became apparent that Trump may become the next President of the United States, the Russians worked to set up backchannels, according to Baer. 

The July 16 Russia-United States summit in Helsinki, Finland, didn’t help matters either, Baer said. 

“This servile kissing the ring of Putin really makes you wonder what’s going on,” he said. “We’re not going to know what went on in that meeting, because if there’s any tape of it, it’s Putin that has it. We simply don’t know.”

He added, “You have a President of the United States that’s clearly in political trouble for his connections with Russia.”

Many people in the crowd of around 100 people asked questions, including “what can the American people do now?”

“The worst thing you can do when you look at this Russian thing is take sides,” he said.