By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (9/18/7)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Irma missed Miami but slammed the Keys. The neighbors were happy but it’s hard to feel good about any of it. Miami is mostly back to normal though a few houses in this part of Miami are still without power. No air conditioning reminded me of the ‘good ole days’ – I’m not really sure what that is or was, but we didn’t have air conditioning then either.
As I get ready to head from Miami back to the real world I’ll offer a quick update and stick with the two themes from the last column – Donnie Jr. and Facebook.
CNN reports on The Curious Rise Of Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Russian Lawyer Who Met Team Trump
As I’ve pointed out, Russians have a curious way of showing no significant income or assets but still buying property – I have mentioned Trump Tower Sunny Isles, Little Russia, a few times as modest examples. In this case the Russian lawyer who took the lead in the Donnie Jr. Trump Tower June 2016 meeting gets some attention.
“But here’s the curious thing: In August 2003, before the lion’s share of that $53,645 was earned, the Russian land registry shows that Veselnitskaya was somehow able to buy two large plots of land in an elite residential community in the Moscow suburbs — properties that cannot have been sold for less than $500,000 apiece at the time, according to two Russian brokers with extensive experience selling in that area.”
Personally, I am happy for Veselnitskaya, I don’t care how she came by her 8,000 square-foot dacha (just down the road from Vladimir Putin’s digs). But I find her connections to US policy, specifically US sanctions against Russia and the Putin regime’s desire to find a friendlier political climate to undo these sanctions to be of interest – the question being, how far did they get with Donnie Jr. and Trump? We already know Trump attempted to undermine US Russia sanctions his first week in office.
You might remember a recent interview with spy-thriller authors John le Carre and Ben McIntyre, here’s McIntyre again:
“When the topic of Russia’s interference in the US political system inevitably came up, Macintyre immediately alighted upon Veselnitskaya as the most intriguing figure in the story, an obscure woman of inscrutable significance and influence by which so much political skullduggery is done in contemporary Russia.”
But again, who cares – her version of the little masquerade is not unique.
If you are interested, here is a short drone video of Veselnitskaya’s little cottage.
Bloomberg weighs in with: Russia Laundering Probe Puts Trump Tower Meeting In New Light
Veselniskaya is linking to the Prevezon trial (settled out of court) – just think Hermitage Capital, Bill Browder, the murder of Browder’s lawyer Magnitsky in Russian prison and the subsequent US sanctions against Russia called the Magnitsky Act. I say all this because Donnie Jr.’s various shape-shifting explanations of why he took a meeting with Russians for the Trump campaign touches on these connected threads and many other points.
Buried at the end of the Bloomberg article is this gem:
“Several Democratic lawmakers looked at the Prevezon settlement in a new light two months later, when news emerged about the Veselnitskaya meeting in Trump Tower. In a letter, they whether the Russian lawyer, or members of the Trump team, may have put pressure on prosecutors in the matter. They also pointed out that Bharara, whose office opened the case, had been summarily fired by as the case neared trial.
“What wasn’t publicly known at the time was that federal prosecutors in Bharara’s old office were continuing a criminal probe into the laundering allegations.”
I’ve offered my own questions of why Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for southern district of New York, was fired immediately after being assured by Trump that he’d be kept on.
BUT LITERALLY THE LAST SENTENCE offers new insights – Bharara was also investigating all parties in parallel for potential money laundering.
Sound familiar? Sound a little, well, Trumpian? Worthy of firing Bharara to cover some ass? Next I’ll offer a crazy idea that Trump fired former FBI director James Comey to get him off the Trump-Russia investigation? Wait, Trump already told us he did exactly that.
“FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the “inauthentic” accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election.
“The warrant was first disclosed by the on Friday night and the news was later
“Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team.
“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” , a former FBI counterintelligence agent.”
And here’s why this is important:
The Facebook warrant “means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with an election,” Mariotti wrote on Saturday.
“It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things: first, that there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second, that evidence of the crime existed on Facebook.”
That has implications for Trump and his associates, too, Mariotti said.
“It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That’s aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller’s search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged.”
Those are three very important paragraphs. So, who holds the bag here you ask?
“Kushner was put in charge of the campaign’s entire data operation and is over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.”
I’ll end with this – same report but more succinct… ‘This is big news’: Bob Mueller’s Facebook Warrant Signals Stunning New Turn In Russia Probe
Maybe I just like including the headline.
Meanwhile the entire staff of the Russia Monitor returns to its Wisconsin home base.