The Russia Connection

The Report, Episode Six: Back Channels

By Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes
Friday, August 23, 2019, 8:25 AM

Today, we released the sixth episode of Lawfare’s narrative audio documentary, The Report, which tells the story Robert S. Mueller lays out in his famous 448-page document. 

This is the story of outreach by the Russians to the Trump campaign and the Trump transition on policy matters—the effort to reboot U.S.-Russian relations one secret meeting at a time. 

Episode 1 covers the Russian social media campaign and the activities of the Internet Research Agency. Episode 2 focuses on the Russian hacking operation; the stealing of documents and emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and figures associated with the Clinton campaign; and the leaks of the stolen materials timed to affect the U.S. election. Episode 3 covers the Trump campaign’s involvement in the distribution of hacked materials. Episode 4 tells the story of two Trump Towers—one in Moscow, which Donald Trump sought to build even as he was denying having any business in Russia, and one in New York, where Russian representatives showed up promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Episode 5 recounts the tale of three men associated with the Trump campaign: George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Paul Manafort. 

In the sixth episode, we tell the stories of Russian policy outreach to the Trump campaign, a story that begins during the campaign and accelerates after Trump unexpectedly wins the presidency in November 2016. The story of the Russian efforts to reset relations with the incoming administration begins with a policy speech Trump delivers at a hotel in Washington D.C.; it runs through a resort at a remote island in the Indian Ocean; it runs through the U.N. Security Council, Mar a Lago and the Dominican Republic, and it ends with the president’s national security adviser resigning in disgrace.

This episode features Rosalind Helderman, Franklin Foer, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris and Scott Anderson.

We continue to be delighted by the reception to this podcast series. We hope people continue to engage at such a high level with the material we’re putting together. Please continue to subscribe, rate and share it widely.

We are grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund for their support for this project. If you want to support work of this type at Lawfare, please consider becoming a monthly donor by clicking here: