Bill Browder’s Testimony and a Possible Putin-Trump Quid pro Quo
It’s been surreal watching some in the GOP Congress who used to talk such a tough game on Russia actually taking potshots at Bill Browder-the architect of the Magnitsky Act.
Just shows you how far the GOP’s tribalist negative partisanship has gone.
In any case Browder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and it’s must read material.
“William Browder knows Vladimir Putin’s Russia all too well.”
“Browder made a fortune in Russia, in the process uncovering, he says, incredible amounts of fraud and corruption. When he tried to report it to authorities, the government kicked him out of the country and, he alleges, tortured and killed the lawyer he was working with.”
“In what one senator called one of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s “most important” hearings, Browder, a wealthy businessman-turned-activist-turned Putin-adversary shed a chilling new light on a Russian system of government that operates ruthlessly in the shadows — as Browder described it for lawmakers: a “kleptocracy” sustained by corruption, blackmail, torture and murder with Putin at its center.”
“Effectively the moment that you enter into their world,” Browder told senators investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, “you become theirs.”
The minute you enter their world you become their’s. You know who has entered their world? Trump, his family, and his associates. Like when his kids went with Russian mobster Felix Sater to Moscow in 2007. Or in 2008 when Eric Trump said they get most of their money out of Russia, or when Trump was at the Moscow beauty pageant in 2013.
So this whole theory that Trump apologists cobble together-‘Gee, we just met with them, but it was about the weather and the tropics’ is not reality. You hang with them, you’re theirs.
“No good guys”
“Browder’s story — how he ended up living in London, after almost a decade of vast success as a businessman in Moscow, is arguably a case study in how Putin’s government works: a system of intermediary influential businessmen who aren’t directly employed by the Russian government, but who benefit financially from Putin’s regime.”
“Even if you aren’t directly employed by Putin, you certainly can’t succeed if Putin doesn’t like you.”
“Browder founded and ran one of the largest investment firms in Russia, Hermitage Capital Management, from 1996-2005. When he and his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky discovered a massive corruption scheme, they went to the authorities.”
“And we waited for the good guys to get the bad guys,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It turned out that in Putin’s Russia, there are no good guys.”
“After making their complaint, Browder was accused of tax evasion; he alleges the $230 million he thought his business was paying in taxes to the Russian Treasury was misappropriated and funneled to those in power, at once making him a criminal and making Putin’s circle richer.”
After Magnitsky was murdered, Putin has spent the last 5 years trying to end the Magnitsky Act:
“Putin has spent the last half decade fighting through various methods to undermine and ultimately repeal the eponymous law. In addition, as retaliation for the law, he imposed a policy in Russia — what Browder called “the most sadistic thing he could do” — banning the adoption of sick and disabled Russian children by American families.”
Yes and the Trumpsters have absurdly acted like Putin offering to end the ban in exchange for ending Magnisky Act was some wonderful gesture on Putin’s part.
About Donald Jr’s Russian lawyer friend:
“Natalia Veselnitskaya has become what Browder called “the point person” for Russia’s fight to repeal the law. The Russian attorney has been lobbying against the Magnitsky Act for years, and fighting to discredit Browder.”
So what about that June 9, 2016 meeting between her-and the money launderer, and the former Soviet intel agent who is also a suspect in an international hacking conspiracy-and the Trump campaign?
“Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee’s ranking member, asked Browder if the meeting could have been the Russian government’s way of offering a “quid pro quo” in exchange for repealing the Magnitsky Act.”
“This was a big ask,” Browder said in response — in reference to repealing the U.S. law that essentially imposes global banking sanctions of Russian human rights abusers who are found to have violated it. “They wouldn’t have gone in and said ‘please can you repeal this for us,’ without having something to offer in return.”
“Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya have both said no incriminating information about Clinton ended up changing hands in the meeting.”
Well that clears that up. They said everything was fine so it must have been.
Of course, at this hearing the GOP was trying to concoct more counter scandals to get Trump off the hook:
“Sen. Lindsey Graham’s almost entire line of questioning on Thursday focused on the seeming contradiction in the fact that Russia allegedly has ties to a company behind the controversial and unverified dossier on Trump while Russia was also rooting for Trump to win on Election Day, according to to the emails exchanges with Trump Jr. prior to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.”
Fusion GPS points out this is just a tactic on Trump’s apologists part to divert from the fact that his campaign conspired with Russian intelligence.
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