Fox News’ Catherine Herridge reports that two strains of the Russia story collided or, at least, crossed paths on the day Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower:
The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with a Russian lawyer before and after a key meeting she had last year with Trump’s son, Fox News has learned. The contacts shed new light on how closely tied the firm was to Russian interests, at a time when it was financing research to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump…
Hours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, a confidential source told Fox News. Court records reviewed by Fox News, email correspondence and published reports corroborate the pair’s presence together. The source told Fox News they also were together after the Trump Tower meeting…
NBC News first reported that Veselnitskaya and Simpson were both at a hearing centered around another Fusion client, Russian oligarch Denis Katsyv. His company, Prevezon Holdings, was sanctioned against doing business in the U.S. for its alleged role in laundering more than $230 million.
The story of Russian influence on the election now has so many moving parts that it’s getting hard to keep them all straight. But it all connects back to lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian prison in 2009. According to his employer, businessman Bill Browder, Magnitsky was arrested after he uncovered millions of dollars in fraud involving Russian companies.
Up until Magnitsky’s death, Browder had been a huge fan of Vladimir Putin. But after his death, Browder became an outspoken critic of Putin and gathered information which he claimed proved that Magnitsky had been arrested and eventually beaten to death in prison to silence him.
Browder was so successful at stoking outrage over Magnitsky’s death that in 2012 the U.S. passed a law called the Magnitsky Act which sanctioned Russian oligarchs and officials who were believed to be responsible for his death and to have benefited from the fraud he uncovered. These sanctions cost various Russians millions of dollars so they have been fighting the Magnitsky Act for years. Russia also cut off adoptions from America in response to the passage of the Act. From NBC News:
In 2013, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office sued a Russian company, accusing it of laundering some of the proceeds of the fraud Magnitsky allegedly uncovered. The complaint incorporated Browder’s account about what happened to Magnitsky.
That lawsuit set in motion a process through which that version of events would come under challenge.
The defendant, a company called Prevezon, is owned by Denis Katsyv, who became wealthy while his father was vice governor and transport minister for the Moscow region, according to published reports. The father, Pyotr Katsyv, is now vice president of the state-run Russian Railways. Veselnitskaya has long represented the family.
Prevezon hired a law firm, BakerHostetler, and a team that included a longtime New York prosecutor, John Moscow. Also working on Prevezon’s behalf were Simpson, Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin.
According to lawyers for Prevezon, Browder’s story of what happened to Sergei Magnitsky was a lie, one he concocted to cover up his own company’s tax fraud! In 2016, Browder responded to these claims by filing a lawsuit against Prevezon and Glenn Simpson, claiming they were “in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.” In other words, he claimed they were foreign agents who were lobbying illegally.
So Glenn Simpson and Natalia Veselnitskaya were in court together because they’ve been involved in representing Russian oligarchs for some time. That happened on the same day that Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner with the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton. What Veselnitskaya actually presented, according to the NY Times, was the contents of a memo about some American DNC donors who had allegedly failed to pay taxes in Russia:
The memo that Ms. Veselnitskaya brought to the Trump Tower meeting alleged that Ziff Brothers Investments, an American firm, had illegally purchased shares in a Russian company and evaded tens of millions of dollars of Russian taxes. The company was the financial vehicle of three billionaire brothers, two of them major donors to Democratic candidates including Mrs. Clinton. By implication, Ms. Veselnitskaya, said, those political contributions were tainted by “stolen” money.
Kremlin officials viewed the charges as extremely significant. The Ziff brothers had invested in funds managed by William F. Browder, an American-born financier and fierce Kremlin foe.
Are some of the puzzle pieces starting to fall into place? Veselnitskaya was working against the Magnitisky Act on behalf of Russian oligarchs with the help of Glenn Simpson. That act was largely supported by claims about Magnitsky’s death in prison which were made and circulated by Kremlin foe William Browder. Simpson was apparently engaged to help undercut the story Browder was telling.
Veselnitskaya, with the help of Russian prosecutor general Yuri Y. Chaika, apparently decided that the Ziff brothers (alleged) failure to pay taxes on investments to Browder’s funds could be spun as “dirt” on Hillary. Why? Because those same investors were big DNC donors. Maybe the plan was to get Trump or his people to make a stink about this, but it seems Donald Trump Jr. just didn’t get how Americans not paying taxes in Russia constituted dirt. Describing the Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya Trump Jr. told Sean Hannity, “It was this ‘Hey, some DNC donors may have done something in Russia and they didn’t pay taxes…I was like, what does this have to do with anything?” Trump Jr. said the meeting broke up when Veselnitskaya started talking about adoptions.
There was perhaps another motivation for trying to get Trump Jr. to bite on the “dirt” about the Ziff brothers. It would be another avenue to attack William Browder, the person most responsible for the Magnitsky Act. Getting the Trump campaign on board with the attack involving Browder’s funds could have been a coup for Veselnitskaya and the Russian oligarchs she was representing. But again, it seems Trump Jr. didn’t think not paying Russian taxes was a big deal.
The fact that Veselnitskaya and Simpson were working together on behalf of Russian oligarchs at the same time Simpson’s company, Fusion GPS, was gathering memos full of Russian dirt on Trump for Hillary’s campaign and the DNC seems worthy of further investigation.