Friday, July 14, 2017

All Roads Lead, Well, In Trump's Direction

With the air in Washington this foul even the smell test is losing its effectiveness.

Case in point, that Russian lawyer Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort met with during the election campaign. Of course we know that private meeting went nowhere. It was a giant "nothingburger." That would be assuring if it didn't come from demonstrated chronic liars.  We know they met. We know what the meeting was clearly stated to be about. We don't have any credible information on what actually transpired.

But what about that enigmatic Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya? Fredo claims she only wanted to talk about re-opening the conduit that allowed Americans to adopt Russian babies. As if.

Well she's surfaced again and she's raising eyebrows. Lawyer Veselnitskaya has been representing some rather sketchy Russians accused of laundering more than $200-million worth of purloined Russian rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate.

The case was launched by - wait for it - the former US Attorney Trump first praised and then abruptly fired, Preet Bharara. That 230 million dollar lawsuit? Trump appointee, Jeff Sessions, settled it for 6 million which had Veselnitskaya rolling in the aisles.

Veslnitskaya was surprised by how generous the settlement was, telling one Russian news outlet the penalty appeared like “an apology from the government.”

While the Congressmen didn’t cite any evidence that the two events are definitely related, they sent Sessions a laundry list of questions. They want to know if there was any contact between members of the Trump administration or campaign and the Department of Justice or the Russian attorney about the case.

It's now emerging that Veselnitskaya wasn't worried about Russian orphans but about repealing the Magnitsky Act.

The Magnitsky Act was passed to punish those suspected of being involved in the death of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme in 2008 that implicated high-level Kremlin officials and allies of President Vladimir Putin. The scheme quickly snowballed into one of the biggest corruption scandals of Putin's tenure.

Magnitsky uncovered the scheme on behalf of the investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital, which was at that point the largest investment firm in Russia. Magnitsky was later thrown in jail by the same Interior Ministry officers he testified against during criminal proceedings to punish those involved in the tax scheme, Hermitage founder Bill Browder recalled in 2015.

Magnitsky died in custody after being held for 358 days, and an independent human-rights commission found he had been illegally arrested and beaten. The Kremlin maintains that Magnitsky died of a heart attack.

Browder, the founder of Hermitage, said in an interview on Saturday that fighting against the Magnitsky Act was Veselnitskaya's "main project last year. And "t here was no obvious reason," Browder said, for Veselnitskaya and her team to engage in this lobbying "as part of their defense for Prevezon."

"It wouldn't have helped the company address the money laundering allegations mounted by the US Department of Justice," Browder said. "The only reason for them to do this would have been at the behest of the Russian government."


Owen Gray said...

The stench gets ranker with each passing day, Mound.

Anonymous said...

It gets even better, Mound. NBC's reporting that Veselnitskaya was accompanied by a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer.


John B. said...

Browder detailed the history of his business and legal troubles in post-Soviet Russia in "Red Notice".

Northern PoV said...