(Originally published at Consortium News and The Komisar Scoop)
Mueller Report Gets the Trump Tower Meeting Wrong; Promotes Browder Hoax
July 3, 2019
Natalia Veselnitskaya didn’t have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and when the Russian lawyer met with Trump’s people her focus was not on the 2016 campaign.
By Lucy Komisar
A “key event” described in the Mueller Report is the Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer met with the president’s son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Russiagaters have been obsessed with the meeting, saying it was the smoking gun to prove collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election. Months after Mueller concluded that there was no collusion at all, the obsession has switched to “obstruction of justice,” which is like someone being apprehended for resisting arrest without committing any other crime.
The Mueller report thus focuses instead on “efforts to prevent disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and senior campaign officials.”
But the report on this topic is deceptive. Ironically, as it attacks Donald Trump and top campaign officials for lying, the report itself lies about the issue the meeting addressed.
It wasn’t to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, which the Russian lawyer did not have and never produced. That was a ploy by Robert Goldstone, a British music publicist whose job is to get what his clients want, in this case, a meeting. So, recklessly, he invented the idea of Clinton dirt as a bait-and-switch to get Trump’s people to come to it. He got the lawyer the meeting for her to lobby a potentially incoming administration against the Magnitsky Act, which is why she was in the United States in the first place.
The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 U.S. law that was promoted by William Browder, an American-born British citizen and hedge fund investor, who claimed his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky had been imprisoned and murdered because he uncovered a scheme by Russian officials to steal $230 million from the Russian Treasury. It sanctioned Russians he said were involved or benefitted from Magnitsky’s death. It has since been used by the U.S. to put sanctions on other Russians and nationals from other countries.
The lawyer lobbying against the act, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort that Browder’s story was fake, a smokescreen to block the Russians from going after him for multi-millions in tax evasion. She argued the Magnitsky Act was built on this fraud. Manafort’s notes, included in the Mueller Report, trace what she said.
The Trump people did nothing illegal to meet with her. Their problem was the exaggerating communications Goldstone sent them about Veselnitskaya having “dirt” on Clinton. (While U.S. election laws says it’s illegal for a campaign to receive “a thing of value” from a foreign source, it’s never been established by a court that opposition research fits that description, the Mueller Report admits. ) Veselnitskaya testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in November 2017 that Browder’s major American client, the Ziff brothers, had cheated on American and Russian taxes and contributed the “dirty money” to the Democrats.
The Mueller investigators appear not to have looked into her charges. The report promotes Browder’s fabrications, citing “the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.”
But instead of his “lawyer” Magnitsky exposing Russian fraud, for which he was jailed and killed in prison, Magnitsky was actually Browder’s accountant who was detained under investigation for his part in Browder’s tax evasion and died of natural causes in prison, as Magnitsky’s own mother admits to filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov in the film “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.”
Mueller’s investigators might have started with documents filed in U.S. federal court in the case of Veselnitskaya’s client, Prevezon, a Russian holding company that settled a civil-forfeiture claim by the U.S. government that linked it, without proof, to the tax fraud.
The documents include a deposition where Browder admits that the alleged “lawyer” Magnitsky did not go to law school nor have a law degree. Magnitsky’s own testimony file identifies him as an “auditor.”
Why does that matter? Because it was Browder’s red herring. Magnitsky had worked as Browder’s accountant since 1997, fiddling on Browder’s taxes on profits from sales of shares held by Russian shell companies run by his Hermitage Fund. He was not an attorney hired in 2007 to investigate and then expose a tax fraud against the Russian Treasury.
That fraud was exposed by Rimma Starova, the Russian nominee director of a British Virgin Islands shell company that held Hermitage’s reregistered companies and who gave testimony to Russian police on April 9 and July 10, 2008. It was reported by The New York Times and Vedomosti on July 24, 2008, months before Magnitsky mentioned it in an Oct. 7 interrogation.
The Mueller Report says Veselnitskaya promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government support for Trump.” Two days before the meeting, Goldstone emailed Trump Jr. and said “the Russian government attorney” was flying in from Moscow. She had not been a government attorney since 2001, 15 years earlier.
I interviewed Veselnitskaya in New York in November 2016. She explained what she later told the Trump group, that Browder’s clients the Ziff Brothers had invested in Russian shares in a way that routed the money through loans so that they could evade U.S. taxes. [“Not invest – loans” in Manafort’s notes.]
The report says, “Natalia Veselnitskaya had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time.” Later it says that from 1998 to 2001, she had worked as a prosecutor for the “Central Administrative District” of the Russian Prosecutor’s office. “And continued to perform government-related work and maintain ties to the Russian government following her departure.” We are meant to presume, with no evidence, as the media does – that means “a Kremlin-connected lawyer.”
When Trump Jr asked for evidence, how the payments could be tied to the Clinton campaign, she said she couldn’t trace them, according to the Mueller Report.
Then she turned to the Magnitsky Act. The report repeats earlier fakery: “She lobbied and testified about the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.” Magnitsky did not expose a fraud. Rimma Starova did.
A footnote in the report said: “Browder hired Magnitsky to investigate tax fraud by Russian officials, and Magnitsky was charged with helping Browder embezzle money.” Browder did not hire Magnitsky to investigate the fraud. Magnitsky had been the accountant in charge of Hermitage since 1997, 10 years before the fraud. Embezzlement refers to Browder shifting assets out of Russia without paying taxes.
But the investigation’s focus was not on Browder’s fakery — the substance of the Trump Tower meeting — but on the communications organizing the event. The section on obstruction says Trump became aware of “emails setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians who offered derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’”
That would have been Goldstone’s inflated promises.
The report says “at the meeting the Russian attorney claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.” Trump Jr. told a White House press officer that “they started with some Hillary thing, which was bs and some other nonsense, which we shot down fast.”
As Veselnitskaya told me, she knew the Ziffs made contributions to Democrats. She probably started with that. Manafort’s notes don’t report a “Hillary thing,” but are about Browder and the Ziffs.
On the issue of Browder, the Magnitsky story and the essence of the Trump Tower meeting, the Mueller Report is a deception intended to keep the myth of collusion in the air while dismissing that any collusion took place.
Mueller Report deals with Browder and Trump Tower mostly in Part I, pages 110-123, and Part II, pages 98-107.
Editor’s note: In the comments section of a September 11, 2018 article published on Consortium News by Davies and Benjamin, we tried, unsuccessfully, to engage Mr. Benjamin Ferencz on the topic of Browder-Magnitsky. Because we feel the matter is of such profound importance for humanity at this historical moment, we made a 2nd attempt to engage with Mr. Ferencz, nearing 100 years old and the last surviving war crimes prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials, at his YouTube platform: “Nuremberg Legacy Channel”. Unfortunately we have yet to receive a reply or response, or otherwise know of any public statement on this issue from the highly-respected Ben Ferencz.
“Beyond Bolton: The Path to a Progressive Foreign Policy”
Consortium News, September 11, 2018 by Nicolas J.S. Davies and Medea Benjamin
(Ben Ferencz commented…)
The US public must choose between the sage advice of Dwight D. Eisenhower, our Supreme Commander in World War 2, who as President warned : THE WORLD NO LONGER HAS A CHOICE BETWEEN FORCE AND LAW. IF CIVILIZATION IS TO SURVIVE IT MUST CHOOSE THE RULE OF LAW “.
I prefer Eisenhower to the rantings of Bolton.”
Ben Ferencz, – Combat veteran and sole Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor.
(We responded to Mr. Ferencz…)
“Thank you for your inexhaustible decades-long efforts to manifest on Earth a universal legal framework guaranteeing the presence of an institution effective for ending impunity for wars of aggression forever. That your simple-to-understand solution for ending criminal wars has not yet reached and been accepted by the whole of humanity is both profoundly frustrating and disappointing. We would hope Consortium News publishes your writings and interviews you soon.
“Of course, as you of all people certainly know, the International Criminal Court (ICC) that John Bolton bashes is precisely the institution for ending war crimes impunity for all time, for all future generations – if only all nations on Earth agreed to sign the Rome Statute and come under ICC jurisdiction. A United Nations reform making it mandatory for all member states to agree on ICC jurisdiction for their respective nations or face expulsion from the UN – a UN “terms of service”, if you will – would be impossible to reject except for those nations wishing to prolong war crimes impunity.
“The “public relations disaster” facing nations which would reject universal ICC jurisdiction is that their nations would face a near immeasurable loss of reputation, or in other words become perceived as a war-like nation, with all the negative, mainly economic, consequences. The choice of joining the ICC or not, when UN member states weigh and assess the potential severe negative outcomes associated with being perceived the world over as a “warmonger nation”, virtually guarantees no nation will reject the reform, therefore 100% of nations on Earth will (if sane/rational) agree to ICC jurisdiction.
“Humanity now experiences a new disturbing phenomenon as relates to international law, as yourself and readers of Consortium News are aware after reading articles 1st published by the late great Robert Parry, – that being expansion of so-called “Magnitsky Act” legislation in a number of countries around the Earth, begun in the United States and followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, among others. In America, the legislation has expanded to passage in the U.S. Congress of a so-called “Global Magnitsky Act”, which could be described as an alternative International Criminal Court, but with different aims and/or agendas, – namely, the capacity to carry out economic/financial warfare against any individuals, groups or nations on Earth.
“There is an unresolved controversy surrounding Magnitsky Act legislation, made more visible by the mention of Bill Browder by Russian President Vladimir Putin at his press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump a few weeks ago in Helsinki, Finland. There is what could be described as an “Iron Curtain” separating the narratives of Russia and the United States regarding Browder and Magnitsky. A powerful documentary film which contradicts Bill Browder’s narrative of how Sergei Magnitsky died – “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes” – was the subject of an article by Mr. Parry, bringing many people an awareness of the controversy. Mr. Nekrasov’s film was recently published at Vimeo.com, and a few days ago taken down from the platform after Vimeo management reportedly received communications from Mr. Browder’s legal advisors.
“A book by author Alex Krainer, “Grand Deception”, deconstructs “errors” in Mr. Browder’s book “Red Notice”. After Mr. Krainer published the book critical of Mr. Browder on Amazon.com, like the documentary film taken down at Vimeo, reportedly Mr. Browder’s legal advisors contacted Amazon shortly before Mr. Krainer’s book was removed from that platform. The question is why were these messages critical of Bill Browder’s narrative regarding Sergei Magnitsky effectively repressed?
“One might reasonably suggest the recent bashing of the International Criminal Court by Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton is directly related to the global expansion of Magnitsky Act legislation. The magnitude of this issue is unprecedented, massive and of profound historical significance. One might also reasonably suggest, given the current state of international affairs, that the controversy surrounding Bill Browder and Sergei Magnitsky is the most important – and sadly, under-reported – story of the 21st century.”
We had hoped, but were unfortunately disappointed, for your response to our sincere expression of legitimate and serious concern over the massively consequential Browder-Magnitsky Act (Earth-wide) legislative phenomenon. It is near impossible to think that you, your son and associates with a long-time record of working for a world of “Law, Not War” have not determined the absolute truth regarding Browder-Magnitsky.
Please consider taking on this issue and making a public statement of clarification as soon as possible, especially in light of profound breakdown of U.S.-Russia relations and real threats of military conflict.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Benjamin Ferencz is evidently a regular reader of Consortium News. Perhaps he will become inspired to apply his enormous legal experience and knowledge after reading Lucy Komisar’s powerful article of July 3, and speak out publicly on this enormously important issue for humanity.
In conclusion: It appears impossible for the powerful individuals behind the Browder-Magnitsky scandal to maintain secrecy and avoid demands for 100% truthful, serious, in-depth responses from ALL candidates in the 2020 election race for President of the United States.