MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance, long one of the network’s loudest voices when it comes to pushing Russiagate conspiracies, claimed Tuesday morning that President Donald Trump is a Russian asset who was on the Russians' radar “as early as 1977” via his first marriage to Czech-born Ivana Trump.
Nance appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in a segment first spotted by Mediaite, to hawk his latest Trump-centric Russia book and was immediately congratulated by host Willie Geist for being “out front before most people” were aware of the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Nance, a retired naval intelligence operator, went on to boast that he saw early in Trump’s presidential campaign that the U.S. was under attack by a “wide-ranging information warfare attack” by Russia that was designed to make Trump president, adding that he saw it “about a year before anyone would really understand that.”
Pointing to Russia’s hack of the DNC servers, Nance said that “Russia was trying to do Watergate” and that this “set off a chain of activities in my brain” based on previous Cold War activities from the then-Soviet Union that made it clear that this was an attack on the United States.
Having established that he was aware that Russia was looking to interfere in the election at an early stage, Nance then dove headfirst into conspiratorial waters about Trump.
Citing reporting by The Guardian, Nance said there were indicators that Trump had been “under Russian intelligence surveillance for a very long time—as early as 1977 with his first wife, Ivana.” Noting that Ivana was from Czechoslovakia, then part of the Eastern Bloc, Nance claimed that the country’s intelligence community at the time was monitoring her and thus gained access to Trump’s communications.
From there, the cable news pundit asserted that “Russia became very interested” in Trump during the mid-’80s as he first considered building a Trump Tower Moscow and began tossing around the idea of a presidential run.
“They had ten years of collection and then they brought him to Moscow for what he wanted, which is Trump Tower,” Nance added. “But from that moment on, an enormous dossier of information was collected on him and more importantly, how to exploit him and his simple exploit—as we call it in the intelligence community—and he is avaricious to a fault. He wants money, they now own him. Modern Russia, with a former KGB director as president, they know how to exploit people, they know how to manipulate people, and they know how to buy people.”
Geist, meanwhile, suggested he bought what Nance was selling, remarking that “Putin and Russia never could have dreamed in the 1980s” that when they looked at Trump as an asset that he’d eventually be president. The host would go on to ask Nance when the Russians then decided to start using that information to make sure Trump was elected.
According to Nance, “supervillain” Putin “took all the files of everyone he had ever flipped” during his Soviet days and “brought that into the business world when it became modern Russia,” claiming it was around 2014 they decided to move Trump from “useful idiot” to an “unwitting asset, where he’s being used and he doesn’t know it.”
“And then by 2014, it’s pretty clear that he knows it when they back Trump Tower Moscow 2.0, and then they put a set of rose-colored glasses on his face,” Nance concluded. “Donald Trump sees the world only through Moscow’s point of view because he knows that is where an enormous quantity of money that he cannot access exists and will be made available to him. Is the next step a Russian asset, where he is aware of those activities? Robert Mueller said yes. That he was well aware that he was going to benefit from Russia.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Nance's comment. It has been updated to reflect that Nance said Trump was under Russian surveillance as early as 1977.