Is Donald Trump on the hook to Russian President Vladimir Putin? His tax returns might tell, but he's refusing to release them. (Photos: Getty)

Is Donald Trump on the hook to Russian President Vladimir Putin? His tax returns might tell, but he’s refusing to release them. (Photos: Getty)

Donald Trump has caused alarm bells among U.S. allies in Europe who are on the front lines against Russia and have dealt with Valdimir Putin’s efforts to interfere in their own elections. They fear he’s been co-opted because of his pro-Putin stance.

Trump has repeatedly rebuffed suggestions that Russia is meddling in the U.S. election, despite being briefed to the contrary by U.S. intelligence agencies.

For more than a month now, the Homeland Security Department and the Director of the Office National Intelligence have said they are “confident” Russia is responsible for the hacks of Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee emails.

Thousands of the stolen emails have been published by Wikileaks, headed by Julian Assange. He appeared today (Oct. 4) on a Russian propaganda television station to disparage the U.S. elections.

Assagne’s comments were on message with both Trump and Kremlin claims that the election is vulnerable to being “rigged.”

European allies fear Trump’s support for Putin and his refusal to acknowledge Moscow is behind the cyberattacks is undermining their own efforts to combat Russian interference, according to Newsweek.

European intelligence officials are disturbed because Trump does not believe, does not understand or is purposely misleading the American public about Russia’s meddling in Western democratic elections, including the presidential election, according to the magazine.

Russian chessmaster Gary Kasparov, who is a leading Putin critic, said one of the dictator’s goals is to discredit the electoral process.

“Putin probably has an even bigger goal to seed doubts in America and the world about the integrity of U.S. elections,” he said in a recent interview.

“By doing so, he could have the biggest geopolitical victory that KBG colonel could ever dream of, because, if American elections are rigged, who cares about elections in Russia.”

Both American and European intelligence agencies are especially concerned about ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who is suspected of being Trump’s Russian handler.

Page traveled to Moscow earlier this year, but has denied inappropriate contact with Russian officials, Newsweek reported. He has, however, been highly critical of U.S. foreign policy and praised Putin’s.

Trump adviser Michael Flynn, a retired Army general, has appeared frequently on a Russian television news network identified by American intelligence as a primary outlet for Moscow’s disinformation campaigns, Newsweek reported.

Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t hesitated to cite misinformation known to have been disseminated by a Russian propagandist or Russian publications that are regularly used to spread Russian disinformation.

Kasparov sees something more sinister.

“Trump, even not being a very smart politician, he should recognize the damage done by his repeated statements about Putin. But he keeps doing that.

“So that’s why I think we should look for more sinister reasons for Trump being so pro-Putin,” he said.

For more on the story, check out Newsweek online.