Sonoma Speaker Series: In Conversation with MICHAEL McFAUL, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia

  • October 29, 2018
  • 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM


Michael McFaul is an American academic, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, an analyst for NBC News, and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post.

McFaul served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014).

As the U.S. Ambassador, he unexpectedly found himself the subject of a concerted Russian propaganda campaign, accused of plotting to overthrow Vladimir Putin.

McFaul’s two-year tenure as Ambassador ended in 2014, but Putin did not forget about him. At the July Summit in Helsinki, Putin attempted to make a deal with President Trump. In exchange for letting Robert Mueller’s team question the twelve indicted Russian intelligence officers thought to have participated in cyber-meddling in the 2016 election, Russian counterparts would get the chance to question McFaul.

President Trump said that Vladimir Putin tendered him an “incredible offer.” However, the proposal drew a formal rebuke from the Senate, which approved a non-binding resolution, 98 to 0, against allowing Russia to question McFaul or other current and former U.S. officials.

McFaul, a Montana native educated at Stanford and Oxford, was known during his Russia days as an online pioneer among the diplomatic corps, writing an ambassadorial blog and engaging in exchanges with ordinary Russians. As the Summit unfolded, he went on Twitter to express his shock and disbelief:

“When Trump says Russia is no longer targeting America, that’s not how this American feels. Putin is most certainly targeting and intimidating me. And I’m an American.”

McFaul has authored several books, most recently the New York Times bestseller, “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia.” His current research interests include American foreign policy, great power relations between China, Russia, and the United States, and the relationship between democracy and development.

Michael McFaul will be interviewed by Laura Zimmerman.

Come hear him speak about his latest book, as well as a few other topics of interest in the news these days!