This is Part Six of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death — and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016.
Today concludes this six-part series, by discussing Natalia Veselnitskaya’s relentless propaganda effort against Bill Browder, Sergei Magnitsky, and the Magnitsky Act. I return to Michael Weiss’s weekend piece, and draw some conclusions about the significance of the meeting with the Trump personnel.
PROPAGANDIZING AGAINST MAGNITSKY AND LOBBYING AGAINST THE MAGNITSKY ACT
Weiss’s latest piece notes the by-now familiar fact that Veselnitskaya has lobbied against the Magnitsky Act:
Concurrent with her legal work, she also lobbied in Washington against the very foundation upon which the US government’s case against Prevezon was constructed.
In February 2016, a few months before her meeting with Team Trump, this Moscow resident co-founded a Delaware-registered NGO called the Human Rights Global Accountability Initiative Foundation, purporting to seek the revocation of a controversial ban on American adoption of Russian children. In actuality, the ban itself and the dangled prospect of its repeal was cleverly conceived of by the Russian government as leverage with Washington to negotiate away a piece of American legislation acutely painful to the Kremlin.
He also explains how Veselnitskaya has aggressively maintained, consistent with the position of the Russian government, that Browder and Magnitsky are the Real Bad Guys:
Veselnitskaya has frequently argued in the Russian media that the entire story of what Magnitsky uncovered and the plight he endured is a fabrication accepted by a gullible US government from Magnitsky’s former client, William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage and Magnitsky’s posthumous flame tender.
In 2014, she told RBK-TV, “Sergei Magnitsky did not uncover any theft referred in the Magnitsky Act,” and, “Many events and data stated in the Magnitsky Act did not exist.”
Weiss also details her connections to high-level officials in the FSB, which was ultimately behind the case against Browder and Magnitsky. Indeed, she is also connected to Yuri Chaika, a high-level prosecutor and Putin favorite who opposed the Magnitsky Act.
CONNECTIONS TO YURI CHAIKA, PROSECUTOR WHO SOUGHT REVERSAL OF MAGNITSKY ACT
Veselnitskaya admitted in a Wall Street Journal interview that she knows Chaika and provided him with information about the Magnitsky affair:
The Russian lawyer whom Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met last year with the hopes of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton says she talked with the office of Russia’s top prosecutor while waging a campaign against a U.S. sanctions law and the hedge-fund manager who backed it.
Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya said she wasn’t working for Russian authorities, but she said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that she was meeting with Russian authorities regularly, and shared information about the hedge-fund manager with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, including with Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, a top official appointed by the Kremlin.
“I personally know the general prosecutor,” Ms. Veselnitskaya said. “In the course of my investigation [about the fund manager], I shared information with him.”
Mr. Chaika’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment on whether he knows and received information from Ms. Veselnitskaya.
The hedge-fund manager discussed in the article is Bill Browder.
Now, recall that former tabloid reporter Rob Goldstone had written Trump Jr. saying that the dirt on Hillary was going to come from “the Crown prosecutor of Russia:”
“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Mr. Goldstone wrote in the email. “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
He added, “What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?”
There is no such title as crown prosecutor in Russia — the Crown Prosecution Service is a British term — but the equivalent in Russia is the prosecutor general of Russia.
That office is held by Yury Yakovlevich Chaika, a Putin appointee who is known to be close to Ms. Veselnitskaya.
So Veselnitskaya admits she knows Chaika, a man very close to Vladimir Putin, and the most logical candidate for the person who (according to Goldstone’s email) offered to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary. This is all rather significant because the Magnitsky Act was the focus of the meeting from the point of view of Veselnitskaya, and Chaika was similarly interested in having the Magnitsky Act sanctions removed. Financial Times:
Mr Chaika did have an interest in the Magnitsky sanctions.
Bill Browder, the US financier who employed Sergei Magnitsky and inspired the sanctions on Russian officials, has accused Mr Chaika of covering up the real causes of Magnitsky’s death in prison and of closing down the investigation into the $230m tax fraud.
Two months before the June 2016 meeting, Viktor Grin — a top Chaika deputy who is on the sanctions list — gave Dana Rohrabacher, a pro-Russian US congressman, a dossier that included materials from Ms Veselnitskaya and hinted at possibilities of better US-Russia relations if Congress repealed the Magnitsky Act.
“Veselnitskaya was working hand in glove with Chaika’s office on the anti-Magnitsky campaign,” Mr Browder said.
None of this means that Donald Trump collaborated with Russia, or that Trump Jr. or the other meeting attendees were doing so. That’s not the point of this series of posts.
But when this meeting was first announced, certain commentators on the right portrayed Veselnitskaya as a sort of odd character with an inexplicable obsession with adoption. Here is Brit Hume laughing it up at the notion that the meeting with Veselnitskaya was in any way connected to the Russian government:
Hume portrays the meeting as farcical — but someone armed with the information I have discussed in this series of posts would come to a different conclusion. Rather than some random Moscow lawyer only tangentially connected to the Kremlin, Veselnitskaya was well connected not only to the Kremlin, but also to thieves deeply involved in the fraud uncovered by Magnitsky. Now, with Weiss’s latest piece, we know that she was strangely enriched in a manner similar to the enrichment of those (like cops Kuznetsov and Karpov) behind Magnitsky’s murder.
Perhaps the stupidest single opinion I saw about Veselnitskaya was this howler from Trump shill Jack Posobiec, which I ran across while perusing a link supplied by a commenter of mine who (like Posobiec) is a mindless Trump-supporting drone:
This has to be a candidate for the dumbest thing I have ever seen on the Internet. The notion that Veselnitskaya is out there promoting Bill Browder’s book is something that only a dim, totally uninformed, demi-literate nincompoop would say publicly. If this series of posts has taught you nothing else, it is that Veselnitskaya is very much anti-Browder, anti-Magnitsky, and in favor of Putin’s attempts to have the Magnitsky Act repealed.
If you have come this far, and you want to see the entire story presented in a compelling documentary that contains footage of the Russian hero Sergei Magnitsky, and what his death means, I encourage you to watch this:
It’s only about an hour long, and tells the story better than I can.
You’ll never think about the issue of “Russian adoption” the same way.
This is Part Six of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. The springboard for the series of posts is this Michael Weiss article about Veselnitskaya and how she is connected to the Magnitsky case.
In Part One, I introduced the series and Weiss’s conclusions.
In Part Three, I discussed what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result.
In Part Four, I discussed the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much.
In Part Five, I discussed the connections between Natalia Veselnitskaya and the thieves behind the tax fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.