Mueller Probing Foundation Linked To Trump Tower Meeting Attendees

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow, Russia. President Donald Trump's eldest son changed his account of the meeting he had with ... In this photo taken on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow, Russia. President Donald Trump's eldest son changed his account of the meeting he had with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign over the weekend, saying Sunday July 9, 2017, that Natalia Veselnitskaya told him she had information about Clinton. A statement from Donald Trump Jr. one day earlier made no mention of Clinton. (Yury Martyanov /Kommersant Photo via AP) RUSSIA OUT MORE LESS
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The creation and funding of a foundation ostensibly seeking to lax Russia’s ban on U.S. adoption is being examined by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

Rinat Akhmetshin — a Russian-American lobbyist with ties to Russian intelligence who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting — is a registered lobbyist for the foundation, the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative. Another employee at the foundation, Robert Arakelian, has testified in front of Mueller’s team, Bloomberg reported.

The foundation was reportedly part of a larger crusade to roll back a U.S. sanctions program known as the Magnitsky Act. Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who also attended the Trump Tower meeting, was part of that endeavor on behalf of one of her clients, Denys Katsyv, who is listed on the lobbying registration documents for the foundation.

While the lobbying forms say the foundation’s goal was to “restart US adoptions of Russian children,” previous reporting as well as Bloomberg’s latest story suggest that Russia’s adoption policy was a fig leaf to obscure its larger agenda to alter the Magnitsky Act, which was initially enacted in 2012. A broader version, known as Global Magnitsky Act, became law in 2016. The legislation levies targeted sanctions and visa bans on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations.

Russia banned U.S. adoptions in its country to retaliate against the law, particularly because it was named after an accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison in 2009. The law’s supporters say Magnitsky’s was beaten to death by Russian authorities after Magnitsky exposed an alleged money-laundering scheme implicating Kremlin allies, including Katsyv.

Katsyv had retained Veselnitskaya to represent him a money laundering case brought by U.S. government brought against his company Prevezon Holdings LTD. The case was settled without an admission of guilty, but litigation has continued surrounding the enforcement of the settlement. Veselnitskaya, according to CNN, established the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative.

According to the Bloomberg report, Veselnitskaya in January met with Sarah Peterson, who had reached out to the foundation seeking to work on the adoption issue.

“I don’t think adoptions were their primary agenda,” Peterson said of a meeting she held with Akhmetshin in August 2016 about the foundation.

A meeting that Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin and other figures held with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort in Trump Tower in June 2016 has become the focal point of the multiple investigations into Russian meddling.

Trump Jr.’s initial statement explaining the meeting — which was reportedly dictated to him by President Trump from Air Force One — claimed that the primary subject discussion was adoptions. Revelations after that initial statement, including emails sent to Trump Jr. setting up the meeting promising incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, proved the explanation to be misleading. A memo Veselnitskaya reportedly took to the meeting focused on criticizing the Magnitsky Act and rebuking the claims by the law’s champion, Bill Browder, who had hired Magnitsky to investigate his Russian business dealings.

Browder would go on to be a key witness in the Prevezon case.

“They were trying to get in touch with anybody who had any power,” Browder told TPM in July, about Veselnitskaya’s outreach to the Trump campaign. “I’m sure they’d have tried to contact the Clinton campaign if they thought they would help.”

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  1. Avatar for johnrm johnrm says:

    This is the KEY to the investigation…and the Magnitsky Act yet it is not included in this story…it STOPPED the flow of russian money into the US bank system meaning the russians could no longer launder their money using the US bank system.

    In June 2012, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs reported to the House a bill called the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4405).[4] The main intention of the law was to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system.[5] The legislation was taken up by a Senate panel the next week, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin, and cited in a broader review of the mounting tensions in the international relationship.[6][7]

  2. In other words, financial crimes or other crimes committed in the pursuit of naked self-interest, vs. Vladimir Putin magically handing the presidency to Donald Trump. Were crimes committed? Well, to use the words of Honore de Balzac, “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” Should they be investigated and prosecuted? If there is evidence, yes. Is Robert Mueller the Deus ex Machina that will save the world from Donald Trump? Decidedly, no. It will take a lot more work than that, the first order of business being to stop Republican’t voter suppression and winning more elections…

  3. Incoming angry tweet from Orange Julius Caesar any minute now…keep digging that hole, Donnie.

  4. It also should be noted that it was the flow of Russian money that kept Trump’s businesses solvent as no “legitimate” bank (legitimate being a relative term) other than Deutsche Bank will do business with Trump.

  5. Avatar for dave48 dave48 says:

    To say this is the tip of the iceberg is a massive understatement at this point. The entire Trump campaign and much of the current administration was compromised by the Russians in several ways many years ago. Stories like these are a bit like saying “Al Capone might have enjoyed a glass of whiskey once in a while.”

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