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The Breach: Sarah Kendzior on the ‘Oligarch Envy’ Haunting President Trump

Lindsay E. Beyerstein

Journalist Sarah Kendzior is back on The Breach to shine a light on the surprisingly coherent, and wholly anti-democratic, philosophy driving many of the choices of President Donald Trump. Kendzior, who speaks Russian and earned her PhD studying politics and propaganda in post-Soviet republics, also discusses the systemic challenges facing the mainstream media and U.S. intelligence agencies in the current political climate.

An edited excerpt:

Lindsay: Where do you think Trump’s attachment and admiration for Russia comes from?

Sarah: I think it’s multifaceted. I think there’s some kind of ideological or philosophical component in that Trump generally admires dictators, he admires strong-men governments, he admires oligarchs. I think he has oligarch envy. I think if he could, he would have lived like an oligarch in the United States, free of the kind of rules and regulations that we have–although obviously, we do not have enough regulations, because people like Trump and his cabinet members manage to come to power. And I think he’s worked directly with Russian financiers throughout his whole career, but especially after his bankruptcies in the ’90s. They propped up his business and gave him money when nobody else wanted to work with him, because he was very high risk, and I think that it’s possible he owes them quite a bit of money. And so I think there’s an aspect of debt. I think there’s an aspect of greed, where certain policies like removing the sanctions could prove beneficial to the Kremlin, to the oligarchs that back the Kremlin, to Trump, and to Trump’s cronies in the United States, to plutocrats here.

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Transcript (PDF)