In This Review

Deception: Russiagate and the New  Cold War
Deception: Russiagate and the New Cold War
By Richard Sakwa
Lexington Books, 2021, 382 pp

Sakwa contends that the investigations into “Russiagate”—the alleged collusion of the Russian government with Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election—were politically biased and rested on unverified material. In the end, the main investigation, headed by the U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, concluded that the Russian government and the Trump campaign did not engage in a criminal conspiracy, thus throwing cold water on the notion that Trump owed his victory to Russian interference and was therefore beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The investigations themselves, Sakwa argues, did grave damage to the United States by exacerbating the polarization of U.S. society, compromising the media, and politicizing the security services. Russiagate reduced relations between the United States and Russia to a new Cold War and ruled out any rapprochement between them. Sakwa is not the first to make these points, but his is an exceptionally detailed and well-documented account of all the major episodes covered by the Trump-Russia probes. He aims to help his audience “understand the main issues and facts” of Russiagate. But in the divisive social and political environment that spurred the investigations in the first place, his argument is unlikely to change the minds of those Americans who were anxious to blame outside forces for the defeat of Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.