Bill Browder’s Final Monstrous Lie & The Truth About That Infamous Trump Tower Meeting
To Andre Nekrasov’s great surprise, Pavel Karpov, one of the police officers Bill Browder claims stole $230 million from the Russian treasury and murdered Sergei Magnitsky to cover it up, agreed to be interviewed on film. And one of the most fascinating scenes is the meeting between the two, which opens with Nekrasov introducing Karpov to the actor who played his role in the reenactments he filmed and telling Karpov:
If we’re to believe Mr. Browder’s story, I’m talking to a killer.
But the real-life Karpov we meet is nothing like the brutish, hedonistic, emotionally stunted, and insecure thug we’ve seen in Nekrasov’s reenactments of Browder’s tale. Relaxed, yet sad and earnest, he patiently explains Browder’s deceptions and the holes in his story.
In one egregious case, for example, Browder’s website lists Karpov’s salary as $6,000 a year to show that he couldn’t possibly afford his possessions without some extra mysterious source of wealth. But, when Nekrasov checks the Russian documents Browder uses for corroboration, it turns out that:
Karpov’s declared income was $6,000 a month, not in a year as Browder had claimed.
But, as shocking as that is, it’s by no means the most important result of Nekrasov’s fascinating interview with Pavel Karpov.
As the officer says, the one common linchpin of all Browder’s different stories is that Magnitsky accused Karpov and fellow Russian police officer Artem Kuznetsov of stealing Browder’s companies and using them to perpetrate the $230 million tax fraud. That’s why we’re supposed to believe they arrested, tortured, and ultimately murdered him.
Magnitsky made two statements to the police in 2008 before his arrest; one on June 5 and one on October 7. And Browder’s entire story flows from his claim that, in these statements, Magnitsky accused Karpov and Kuznetsov.
Both in his book and on his website, Browder claims that, on June 5, Magnitsky had yet to discover the tax fraud and only accused the officers of fraudulently transferring ownership of Browder’s company but that, in his October 7 testimony, Magnitsky also accused them of using the stolen companies to steal the $230 million from the Russian treasury.
Browder’s Russian-Untouchables website even links to the Russian language transcripts of Magnitsky’s two testimonies to verify his story about the motive Kuznetsov and Karpov had for arresting and killing him.
Yet, Karpov tells Nekrasov that neither of Magnitsky’s testimonies contains any such accusations!
And, when Nekrasov looked at the transcripts of Magnitsky’s statements, not only do they contain no accusations against Karpov, Kuznetsov or anyone else, far from going to the police to report a crime—a claim on which all the many different versions of Browder’s story entirely hinge—Magnitsky was summoned to the police to be questioned as a suspect in one!
Both transcripts even record that Magnitsky was given the Russian version of his Miranda rights. For example, in his June 5th statement, Magnitsky begins by signing off on the following, which, you will notice, refers to his testimony as an “interrogation”:
Prior to the interrogation, I have been informed of my rights and obligations as a witness provided in Section 4 of Article 56 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation; 1) Decline to witness against myself, my spouse and other closest family members as indicated in Section 4 of Article 5 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation. Providing that I agree to give evidence, I have been warned that my affidavit may be used as testimony in a criminal proceeding including where I subsequently retract my testimony; I have been informed of criminal responsibility for the refusal to testify under Article 308 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and for the commitment of perjury under Article 307 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Witness /Illegible/ Regarding the subject matter of the criminal case, I hereby testify as follows:
And Magnitsky’s October 7, 2008 interrogation begins with a similar statement that he was advised of his rights as a suspect.
And remember, though we may not have much reason to trust the official Russian transcripts, questioning them can’t do anything to vindicate Bill Browder since he himself cites them, blatantly lying about what they actually say.
Moreover, we needn’t rely on Nekrasov’s word about the Russian transcripts since both of Magnitsky’s interrogations were translated into English when Browder was forced to testify under oath by a Russian firm called Prevezon he’d accused of laundering some of the $230 million stolen from the Russian treasury in New York real estate.
And, forced he certainly was; as noted in Part 1, one remarkable scene in Nekrasov’s film is his discovery of a video of pudgy, middle-aged, seemingly mild-mannered, Bill Browder violently knocking aside pedestrians, diving into his limo through one door, fleeing through another, and running down 51st street in New York after a Daily Show appearance in an ultimately futile attempt to avoid the subpoena.
Browder was ordered by the court after evading three subpoenas in the Prevezon Case despite the fact that he secretly provided US Attorney @PreetBharara ALL the so-called evidence, until that small fact was revealed in discovery
– but why run away?https://t.co/WYBz8K6Zc4 pic.twitter.com/q2bPDwM0mq
— Brett Harris (@BrettHar123) March 13, 2020
One can understand why Browder was so reluctant to testify. When the lawyers for Prevezon finally got him under oath, Bill Browder contradicted many of the central aspects of the story he peddled to Congress that was the entire rationale for torpedoing relations with Russia by passing the Magnitsky Act.
Says who, Michael? Bill Browder? Is that why he and his lawyers do everything they can to prevent the distribution of the film The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes? Have you watched the Prevezon depositions (I have) ? This guy can’t get the basic facts of his story straight: pic.twitter.com/e3iR0wvSDZ
— Vagabundo (@libertadorzn) September 15, 2018
Moreover, Prevezon’s lawyers discovered that absolutely nothing was done to verify the very sketchy information Browder turned over on the basis of which the company was indicted when they deposed a Department of Homeland Security Agent who bears a striking resemblance to Curly from The Three Stooges.
And I’m not just talking physically, either.
See clip video deposition of lead investigator Special Agent T Hyman, SDNY manufactured fake case by @PreetBharara . Fraudster extraordinaire, liar, scammer, the convicted criminal Bill Browder faked all the documents of U.S. case. The Magnitsky Act is an almighty hoax. pic.twitter.com/F5RdxDlfcg
— Sam 🏴 (@SamScottish5) January 13, 2019
Though hardly anyone is aware of the real story here, as the above tweets indicate, Browder’s perfidy about Magnitsky and the $230 million theft from the Russian treasury played a crucial role in propping up the Russian collusion hoax.
The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in that now-unjustly-derided Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was in the country representing Prevezon because a judge was set to rule on an important motion Browder’s attorney’s had filed in the case against Prevezon that he’d instigated.
Veselnitskaya did not conspire to set up the Trump Tower meeting with Simpson or anyone. The question is who else knew she would be in New York on 9 June? Bill Browder! His appeal to bury his deposition was on 9 June. He sent the photo to Otto, as a signal for SD to issue visa pic.twitter.com/YNzf3Xsk3Z
— Brett Harris (@BrettHar123) April 22, 2019
And she brought up Russia’s ban on Americans adopting Russian children—one of the few things Democrat and Republican voters both persistently scoffed at as an obvious lie— because, as covered in Part 1, the ban was instituted in response to Browder’s brainchild, the Magnitsky Act, becoming U.S. law.
The fact is that Veselnitskaya had a perfectly rational reason for bringing up the plight of all those unadopted kids. She had very limited time to engage Don Jr.’s interest and she didn’t have a whole heck of a lot to work with that he was likely to give a horse’s patoot about. So she gambled and lost on trying to gain his sympathy for all those kids who were never going to find a family because Browder’s BS story about Magnistky was indirectly responsible for their plight.
Though she’s been almost universally maligned, Natalia Veselnitskaya was in the States on other totally legitimate business and her meeting with Don Jr. was just a small side-project arranged by a British publicist named Rob Goldstone.
23/ On June 3, 2016, Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr, offering up incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump”
“If it’s what you say, I love it.” pic.twitter.com/F4n9Mb7w5a
— ʀaмpaʀт (@imthemadridista) March 23, 2018
It seems overwhelmingly likely that the meeting was a set-up. There were many participants and there’s a lot going on here, however, so getting into the nitty-gritty would require another very long article. And, unfortunately, in the end, there isn’t any evidence that’s anything close to conclusive.
But, to say just a little, hacked State Department emails have since been released revealing that—when Veselnitska arrived in the country—Bill Browder had her under surveillance and notified a State Department official with whom he was in contact.
This is independently corroborated by this email from the State Dept’s Robert Otto email dump, sent the day she was granted a US visa by the State Dept to attend Browder’s appeal hearing in New York on 9 June 2016. pic.twitter.com/8FXcywvovQ
— Brett Harris (@BrettHar123) October 5, 2019
Given how— as we saw in Part 1—Browder also used his influence with the media to promote the poisonous lie that President Trump was a Russian mole, the fact that he sent a picture of her residence to State Department officials makes it entirely possible that Browder played some role in setting up Donald Trump Jr.
Can anyone possibly watch Browder's testimony to the Senate in 2017, while questioned by Sen Graham, and not see how he couldn't hide his hubris for setting up the Trump Tower meeting, which is conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the Prevezon Case: pic.twitter.com/NAPfH87JwV
— Brad Secor (@SecorBradley) December 6, 2020
But, be that as it may, if it was a setup, Natalia Veselnitska was one of its victims not—as both Democrat and Republican voters are virtually united in believing for their own very different reasons—aligned with its perpetrators. It would be an exaggeration to say she was there as a Trump ally. But there’s no question she had legitimate business the purpose of which was to bring down someone who happened to be one of the president’s most vocal enemies and a man whose lies had poisoned relations between the U.S and Russia, Bill Browder.
And, I have to say here, the idea a lot of GOP voters seem to have that Putin worked with the Democrats to frame himself, thereby incurring the sanctions passed in 2017 and generally poisoning US-Russia relations, is at least as preposterous as the idea Democrat voters have that Donald Trump is a Russian mole.
But, regardless, the lies Browder used to get Congress to ban any Russian officials who might testify against him from ever entering the States by passing his Manitsky Act get even worse.
After discovering that Russian newspapers had printed stories on the police investigation into the $230 million tax fraud before Browder alleges Magnitsky first reported it, Andrei Nekrasov looked at archived pages from Hermitage’s website and found a September 16, 2008 press release that was later scrubbed in which Browder’s own company says that the tax fraud was reported to the police by a woman named Rimma Starova in April of 2008; two months before Browder falsely claims that Magnitsky first reported the transfer of his companies to the police and four months before he falsely claims Magnitsky reported the tax fraud.
Browder stopped responding to Nekrasov’s attempts to question him once he realized that the filmmaker had gone from being a naive and trusting chronicler to a skeptical investigator. But when Nekrasov finally managed to get a meeting and confront him with the fact that neither of Magnitsky’s testimonies actually contains any accusations against anyone, Browder suddenly claimed that he wasn’t sure about crucial parts of the story that he’d used to ramp up tension between Russia and the rest of the world before finally saying that such questions were better left to his lawyers, threatening Nekrasov, and abruptly ending their meeting.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the deceptions Bill Browder engaged in that Nekrasov exposes in his gripping work of investigative journalism. And it would be impossible to do much more than scratch the surface of Browder’s total perfidy in an article or a two-hour film.
To consider one crucial example, Browder claims that the purpose of a July 4, 2007 raid Kuznetsov and Karpov conducted on his firm’s Moscow offices was to take the documents that were necessary for transferring his companies to dummy owners so the officers could run the $230 million tax scam.
However, Nekrasov discovers that the documents seized in the raid were actually irrelevant to transferring the companies since copies could be used. What was instead needed was a power-of-attorney on behalf of Browder’s parent companies. And, though Browder later went to court to regain ownership, his lawyers argued that the power-of-attorneys weren’t properly certified, not that they’d been forged!
Furthermore, as Lucy Komisar has noted, in his June 5, 2008 testimony, Magnitsky himself indicates that the documents Kuznetsov and Karpov seized weren’t necessary to transfer the companies because Browder’s people “decided to produce seal replicas” created by “a commercial firm specializing in the manufacture of seals and stamps.”
And, when he was deposed by Prevezon’s American attorney’s, Browder admitted that Kuznetsov began investigating both him and Magnitsky for another tax fraud in 2004, contradicting his repeated insistence that the raid on his offices couldn’t have had any legitimate justification and also shifting the entire gestalt of his story in a way very unfavorable to him.
Some of the voluminous information revealing Browder’s incredibly brazen lies wasn’t available to Congress or human rights activists when they turned Magnitsky into an innocent martyr and Browder into a selfless hero by uncritically parroting his ludicrous tale.
But the sad fact is that much of it was.
As we’ve seen, all anybody had to do was get someone to translate any of the Russian documents Browder cited to discover he was making it all up. Yet, either because Browder’s tale fit their own preconceived mental fixations about Russia or because they were corrupt, no one bothered to even do that minimal amount of checking.
And, at the end of the day, it isn’t really important whether corruption or incompetence caused Congress to ramp up hostility with Russia based on lies told by someone whose fortune built taking advantage of ordinary economically illiterate Russian citizens and the disturbing lengths he was willing to go to avoid paying American taxes should have deprived of any credibility. As someone once said, “Who is more to blame? A Devil who spreads obvious lies or a fool who chooses to believe those lies and pass them along?” And, even if Congress was more foolish than corrupt, the effect is, at the end of the day, the same.
One of the things that must have most aggravated the Russians when the United States decided to punish them by passing the Magnitsky Act was the strong feeling that Americans were butting into strictly Russian business and getting everything wrong to boot. And, the tale of Bill Browder’s brazen lies has something very general to teach us about the kind of busy-body meddling into the affairs of other nations that the late John McCain spent—and the Magnitsky Act’s other congressional sponsors like Marco Rubio still spend—so much of their time self-righteously thundering about.
Discovering the truth about matters occurring a world away will always be fraught with the possibility of error. And, even if Congress and the human rights activists who promoted Bill Browder’s preposterous fairy tale hadn’t been utterly irresponsible and had done the little work it would have taken to see through his blatant deceptions, there’s no guaranteeing that the moral certainty they exhibit and is required to pass punitive judgment on another nation’s affairs would be justified the next time.
Passing judgment on events happening a world away is always going to be a difficult business leaving so little room for indulging in the self-righteousness that necessarily accompanies it as to suggest that minding one’s own business as much as possible is the best policy in international as well as purely personal relations.
As Darren Beattie noted in an insightful essay criticizing the neo-conservative impulse to search the globe for other people’s messes to clean up:
Hard as it may be, a post-neo-conservative America First foreign policy must first recognize that the chief struggle for our nation’s future is taking place right here in America.”
And, if McCain, Rubio, and the rest had obeyed these wise words, they wouldn’t have increased hostility between the United States and Russia based on the word of a man who may be one of the least trustworthy individuals who’s ever walked the face of the earth.
In any event, somebody ought to be asking Putin if his offer to trade Browder for Mueller’s dirty Russian dozen (covered in Part 1) still stands.
And, if the Senators and Congressman who self-righteously passed a law punishing Russia based on Bill Browder’s unsubstantiated and ludicrous tale had any honor or decency, they’d offer to go along for the ride.
That’s it, thanks for reading! But if you want the whole story, I’m afraid you’re going to have to start at the beginning.
But don’t despair. As Spinoza taught us, “All things noble are as difficult as they are rare.”