Was Trump lured into a Russian 'honey trap'?

January 12, 2017 Alexey Timofeychev, RBTH
American media now claim that Russian secret services have compromising material on U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. Russian security experts, however, say it's highly unlikely that a foreign private investigator would be able to ascertain its existence.
Donald Trump
A woman carries a sign for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump following a campaign event in Atkinson, New Hampshire, Oct. 26, 2015 Source: Reuters

The Trump dossier was allegedly prepared by a former British intelligence official, who is currently working as a private investigator, and it was included in a recent report by American secret services for President Obama. It alleges that over the past several years the Russian government has been secretly supporting Trump and has compromising material on the president-elect. The alleged material concerns "depraved sexual acts" with hired prostitutes in a fashionable Moscow hotel where the Federal Security Service (FSB) had installed a wiretap and a surveillance camera.

Ridiculous accusations

Russian experts interviewed by RBTH believe the U.S. media accusations are a political move orchestrated by President Obama's outgoing administration in order to cultivate Trump's distrust towards Russia.

Experts say the fact that such alleged compromising material has reached the public domain is highly suspect. Secret services keep such information in absolute secrecy, and there is no way they would share it with a British agent.

"Compromising material is used only in very serious situations, and announcing that Russia possesses such material is absolutely ridiculous," said Alexander Mikhailov, a former high-ranking FSB official.

The report claims Russian agents hinted to Trump that they have compromising material on him. This occurred before Trump was elected president, which places the veiled threats in an even stranger context.

Profile building

Mikhailov does not exclude the possibility that Russian secret services have some kind of material on Trump, but whether or not it's compromising remains a big question. Information is often obtained, for example, when building a routine profile on an important person.

Russian secret services often collect basic information on people with which the government has to deal with. The information concerns the person's personality, his likes and dislikes, as well as his strengths and weaknesses.

The information is often obtained both from open sources and through traditional spy methods. Secret services can tap telephone conversations. The person of interest, however, may not frequently use a mobile phone and if he does it's unlikely he will discuss important issues. Powerful people such as Trump often have very secure means of communication, and are not hacked so easily.

Secret services also use computer hackers to obtain important information, and everyone has heard about the alleged involvement of Russian hackers against the Democratic Party.

‘Honey traps’

Secret services also use so-called "honey traps" - gaining someone's cooperation through sexual seduction. Valery Malevanyi, a historian and former employee of Soviet special forces, said the Soviet Union, East Germany, and the U.S. utilized female spies for such missions. They were often highly effective, as in the case of Margarita Vorontsova Konenkova, who was able to procure U.S. nuclear secrets for the Soviets.

Malevanyi, however, does not believe such methods were used on Trump when he visited Moscow in 2013. Trump has bodyguards who thoroughly check the people he deals with, removing all suspicious types.

Nevertheless, Malevanyi admits that neither the best bodyguards in the world nor the most sophisticated equipment can guarantee total security. 

"It's practically impossible to predict every situation, and it's possible some conversation recordings… could have been obtained by Russian secret agents,"said Malevanyi.

Read more: Russia's cyber army hacks a spot in the Top 5

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