Is Donald Trump a Russian spy? Unpacking the conspiracy theory
Donald Trump's career has spanned from businessman to real estate developer, reality television star and President of the United States.
However there are many who believe that "Russian spy" should also be added to his long list of exploits.
Rumours of Trump's involvement with Russia are not new-found, with his 1977 marriage to Czech woman Ivana Zelníčková first sparking the conspiracy theory.
The theory was reignited in 2020, after former FBI agent Peter Strzok published a bestselling book claiming that Russia had been grooming Trump as an asset.
Despite the rumours, Trump himself has always maintained that he has not entered into any kind of unsavoury agreement with Russia, labelling claims of collusion with the country a "hoax" and "witch hunt" orchestrated by his political rivals, namely the Democratic Party, and mainstream media.
But are the spy claims true or just another part of the hoax as Trump claims?
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Could Russia have recruited Trump?
Futurist Dr Richard Hames told Yahoo's Conspiracies Unpacked there are several factors that could have allowed Trump to be manipulated by Russian government.
"Benefits to him [could include] money through his business interests, and power through his sheer narcissistic personality," he said.
Dr Hames also cited Russia's ability to recruit high-level government officials in the United States, referencing the infamous Cambridge Five who worked as spies in the Soviet era.
"[Russia] had groomed university graduates who were working in the foreign service at high levels in MI6 who were definitely spies and very active indeed," he said.
Theory 'quite possible': Expert
While there are conflicting opinions over whether Trump was a fully fledged Russian spy, Dr Hames said he believes that Trump may very well have "been used" during his presidency.
"You have to look at his record when he was president and the tightening of restrictions around Russia at the time especially by the British intelligence services," he said.
"[That] would seem to rule out any direct involvement as an agent. But as an asset, unknowingly? Quite possible."
Those who believe the conspiracy theory maintain that as an asset, Trump fed Russian agencies sensitive and classified information, although Trump himself has repeatedly asserted his innocence in the matter.
Regardless, Dr Hames summarised the conspiracy in it's entirety with one cutting quote: "I think there was a fool in the White House and he didn't know how he was being used."
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