BILL MOYERS’ INTERVIEW AND TIMELINE UPDATE

Bill Moyers interviewed me for the launch of the new interactive Trump/Russia Timeline at BillMoyers.com.

Here are the links:

Moyers Interview

New Interactive Trump/Russia Timeline

Meanwhile, here are this week’s additions to the Timeline:

  • Nov. 16, 2009: Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky, 37, dies after physical abuse in prison. Prior to his arrest, he had worked on behalf of American financier William Browder. Magnitsky had found that Russian officials had redirected more than $230 million in taxes that Browder’s companies had paid to the Russian government. After testifying against those officials, Russian authorities arrested and imprisoned him on Nov. 24, 2008. After Magnitsky’s death, Browder makes it his personal mission to get justice for Magnitsky. [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

***

  • Dec. 14, 2012: President Obama signs into law the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. With William Browder’s urging, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) had sponsored the legislation, which the House and Senate then voted overwhelmingly to pass. The Magnitsky Act freezes assets and bans visas both for Russians who had killed Magnitsky in 2009 and for other Russians involved in serious human rights abuses. Putin is furious with the sanctions and retaliates by banning US adoptions of Russian children. In subsequent testimony on July 26, 2017 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Magnitsky’s former client Browder testifies that Putin took the Magnitsky Act personally because “since 2012, it’s emerged that Vladimir Putin was a beneficiary of the stolen $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky exposed.” Browder testifies that this worries Putin because “he keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation. Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.” According to Browder, the sanctions also create a problem for Putin because it “destroys the promise of impunity he’s given to all of his corrupt officials.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

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  • June 9, 2016: Natalia Veselnitskaya, the “Russian government attorney” referenced in Goldstone’s earlier emails to Donald Trump Jr., meets at Trump Tower with Don Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. The lawyer was formerly married to a former deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region. Her clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company is under investigation in the United States at the time. She is also one of the principal players in Russia’s ongoing efforts to eliminate US sanctions that the Magnitsky Act imposes.

Another Russian attendee at the June 9 meeting is Rinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist reported by some to be a former Soviet intelligence officer, though he denies having ties to Russia’s intelligence agency. Akhmetshin also has been pushing repeal of the Magnitsky Act.

A third attendee is a Russian associate of real estate developer Aras Agalarov, Ike Kaveladze—a vice president focusing on real estate and finance for Agalarov’s company. Born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia, he came to the United States in 1991. In 2000, a Congressional inquiry led to a Government Accounting Office report that Kaveladze had set up more than 2,000 corporations in Delaware for Russian brokers and then opened the bank accounts for them, without knowing who owned the corporations. According to contemporaneous reporting in The New York Times, “The GAO report said nothing about the sources of the money. In view of past investigations into laundering, this wave was highly likely to have arisen from Russian executives who were seeking to avoid taxes, although some money could be from organized crime… In an interview, Mr. Kaveladze said he had engaged in no wrongdoing. He described the GAO investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’” [Revised Aug. 7, 2017] 

***

  • Nov. 8, 2016: Sergei Krivov, 63, is unresponsive and declared dead at the scene inside the Russian consulate in New York City an hour after voting opens. Russian-born Krivov was duty commander involved with security affairs, according to Russian news reports. At first, Russian consular officials say Krivov fell from the roof. Then, they say he died of a heart attack. The initial police report filed on the day of the incident says Krivov had “an unknown trauma to the head.” The New York City medical examiner later rules that Krivov died from bleeding in the chest area, likely due to a tumor. [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

***

***

  • March 21, 2017: Nikolai Gorokhov, 53, is near death with “severe head injuries” and remains in a hospital’s intensive care unit. Reportedly, he fell from the fourth floor of his Moscow apartment. Gorokhov is a private Russian lawyer on an anti-corruption crusade and represents the family of Sergei Magnitsky, and has continued work to uncover the tax fraud first identified by Magnitsky. After regaining consciousness, Gorokhov can’t recall what happened to cause his injuries, but he thinks he may have been targeted. Gorokhov is also set to be a key witness in the related federal money-laundering case trial in May. US attorney Preet Bharaha had alleged that some of the $230 million in stolen proceeds from the fraud scheme that Magnitsky uncovered had been used to purchase “pricey Manhattan real estate.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

***

  • July 8, 2017: The New York Times prepares to report the story of the June 9, 2016 meeting that Donald Jr. had arranged with Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a Kremlin-connected lawyer. Returning from Europe aboard Air Force One, a small group of Trump’s advisers huddle in a cabin helping to craft a response for Don Jr. to give the Times. According to the Times report, Trump personally signs off on the following statement for his son: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up… I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.” But according to later reporting by The Washington Post, Trump does more than “sign off” on his son’s false statement. He helps to write it. [Revised Aug. 7, 2017]

***

  • July 12, 2017: After The New York Times reports that Trump signed off on Don Jr.’s initial (and misleading) statement about the June 9, 2016 meeting among top Trump campaign advisers and the Russians, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow tells Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos, “The president didn’t sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20, the statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr., and I’m sure in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn’t involved in that.” Sekulow goes on to say that the Times report is incorrect. [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

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  • July 16, 2017: Responding to reports that President Trump was personally involved in drafting Don Jr.’s initial and false statement about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, tells NBC’s Chuck Todd: “I do want to be clear—that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr. So that’s what I can tell you because that’s what we know. And Donald Trump Jr. has said the same thing.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

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  • July 25, 2017: In an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the paper does not release (but becomes public on Aug. 1), editor-in-chief Gerard Baker asks Trump if Robert Mueller’s job is safe. “No,” Trump says, “we’re going to see. I mean, I have no comment yet, because it’s too early. But we’ll see. We’re going to see. Here’s the good news: I was never involved with Russia. There was nobody in the campaign. I’ve got 200 people that will say that they’ve never seen anybody on the campaign… There’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia… And if Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

***

  • July 26, 2017: American financier William Browder testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the case that, he believes, cost his Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky his life in 2009. Browder explains that repealing the Magnitsky Act and preventing it from spreading to other countries are among Putin’s top foreign policy priorities. He says that two of the Russians attending the June 9, 2016 meeting with Trump’s top campaign advisers were connected to Russian efforts seeking repeal of the Magnitsky Act: lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and former Soviet intelligence agent Rinat Akhmetshin. [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

***

  • July 31, 2017: The Washington Post reports that Trump had personally dictated the misleading statement that his son initially provided to The New York Times about the June 9, 2016 meeting among Trump’s top campaign advisers and the Russians. According to the Post, “The president directed that Trump Jr.’s statement to the Times describe the meeting as unimportant. He wanted the statement to say that the meeting had been initiated by the Russian lawyer and primarily was about her pet issue—the adoption of Russian children.” Responding to the article, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow says, “Apart from being of no consequence, the [Post’s] characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

  • Aug. 2, 2017: Signing the sanctions bill that had passed Congress with veto-proof majorities, Trump issues a signing statement calling the legislation “significantly flawed” and saying the administration “particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.” In an accompanying press release, Trump says, “Despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

  • Also on Aug. 2, 2017: In response to the new US sanctions, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev writes a scathing Facebook post decrying what he describes, according to a translation by NPR, as Trump’s “total weakness” and saying that the package “ends hopes for improving our relations with the new administration.” Medvedev describes the sanctions as a “declaration of a full-fledged economic war on Russia.” Slamming Trump for signing the act, he says that the “US establishment fully outwitted” him. The fact that Trump signed the bill, Medvedev continues, “changes the power balance in US political circles.” He says the sanctions are “another way to knock Trump down a peg” and predicts: “New steps are to come, and they will ultimately aim to remove him from power.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

  • Aug. 3, 2017: Trump tweets:

[Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

  • Aug. 3, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a Washington grand jury to investigate the Russia probe. [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

  • Aug. 3, 2017: In response to a CNN story that federal investigators are pursuing Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia, Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, says, “The president’s outside counsel has not received any requests for documentation or information about this. Any inquiry from the special counsel that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment we would object to.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

  • Aug. 3, 2017: At a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, Trump tells the crowd, “Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign; there never were.” [Added Aug. 7, 2017]

 

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