Monday, July 10, 2017
What The Kremlin Wanted To Trade
In 2012, Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, named for a Russian lawyer who was pursuing a massive tax fraud scandal involving the Kremlin hierarchy and major oligarchs, most of whom are tied to Russian organized crime. Sergei Magnitsky was arrested on bogus charges, imprisoned by the officials he was investigating, and died following denial of medical treatment and beatings. Eighteen individuals linked to Russian kleptocrat and killer Vladimir "Vlad The Invader" Putin, who were identified as being responsible for Magnitsky's arrest and death, were sanctioned under the Act. Putin was furious at the passage of the act, and terminated adoptions of Russian children by U.S. families in retaliation. The Magnitsky Act remains a major issue for Putin, who wants himself and his cronies out from under the sanctions it imposes.
Forward to June 2016 and to oily Donald "Uday" Trump, Jr. the shady son of con man and sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump. His recently disclosed meeting with a Russian mob lawyer to get dirt on Dem candidate Hillary Clinton was the Rump half of the story. The Russian lawyer he met with, Natalia Veselnitskaya, represents a major figure in the Magnitsky scandal, Denis Katsyv, a high-ranking Russian official who owns a real estate company that is being investigated by the Justice Department for money laundering millions of dollars of the aforementioned tax fraud funds into New York real estate (including Rump's properties?). Veselnitskaya herself has been a central figure in lobbying for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act.
So what was the desired trade? Uday wanted dirt on Hillary from Russian officials. In exchange, the lawyer wanted a commitment that a Rump Administration would work to repeal the Magnitsky Act, and if that came to pass, the Kremlin would provide relief on the orphan adoptions, which was initially what Uday said the Russian lawyer was meeting about. Ultimately, Uday indicated that the dirt that he sought wasn't up to his standards and the meeting ended.
BONUS: To understand how this all fits into a larger picture, Michael Tomasky and Jonathan Chait have provided timelines. Good reads.