Members of the team of Russians who secured a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner also attempted to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill.
The trial, which would have come in the form of a congressional hearing, was scheduled for mid-June 2016 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a long-standing Russia ally who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him—as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Ultimately, the hearing was canceled when senior Republicans intervened and agreed to allow a hearing on Russia at the full committee level with a Moscow-sympathetic witness, according to multiple congressional aides.
An email reviewed by The Daily Beast shows that before that June 14 hearing, Rohrabacher’s staff received pro-Kremlin briefings against Browder, once Russia’s biggest foreign investor, and his tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky from a lawyer who was working with Veselnitskaya.
The Browder in this case is William Browder, the US businessman and portfolio manager who was represented by Sergei Magnitsky before Magnitsky's unseemly death. Rohrbacher by the way freely admitted to meeting with this Russian cast of characters back in May.
Although House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) had prohibited Rohrabacher from showing the Russian propaganda film in Congress, Rohrabacher’s Capitol Hill office still actively promoted a screening of the movie that was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2016. Veselnitskaya was one of those handling the movie’s worldwide promotion.
Invitations to attend the movie screening were sent from the subcommittee office by Catharine O’Neill, a Republican intern on Rohrabacher’s committee. Her email promised that the movie would convince viewers that Magnitsky, who was murdered in a Russian prison cell, was no hero.
The invite, reviewed by The Daily Beast, claimed that the film “explodes the common view that Mr. Magnitsky was a whistleblower” and lavishes praise on the “rebel director” Andrei Nekrasov.
“That invitation was not from our office. O’Neill was an unpaid intern on the committee staff. Paul denies asking her to send the invitations,” said Ken Grubbs, Rohrabacher’s press secretary, referring to the congressman’s staff director, Paul Behrends.
O’Neill went on to secure a job on the Trump transition team and then in the State Department’s Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. She did not return a call for comment.
Rohrabacher’s office was given the film by the Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow, which is run by Yuri Chaika, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin who is accused of widespread corruption, and Viktor Grin, the deputy general prosecutor who has been sanctioned by the United States as part of the Magnitsky Act.
That same Prosecutor General’s office also was listed as being behind the “very high level and sensitive information” that was offered to Donald Trump Jr. in an email prior to his now infamous meeting with Russian officials at Trump Tower on June 9—just days before the congressional hearing. Veselnitskaya attended that meeting with Trump Jr. She also happens to have worked as a prosecutor in the Moscow region and is a close personal friend of Chaika.
The Daily Beast reviewed a copy of a document that was passed to Rohrabacher in Moscow in April 2016. The document, marked “confidential,” was given to Rohrabacher and Behrends. It lays out an alternate reality in which the U.S.—and the rest of the world—has been duped by a fake $230 million scandal that resulted in sanctions being imposed on 44 Russians linked to murder, corruption, or cover-ups.
So cooler heads prevailed, but Rohrabacher was literally going to use a Russia popaganda film as evidence in a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Russian sanctions, and this was all just around the time that we start seeing the Russians mess with voter registration systems, and start openly contacting the Trump people.
And yes, it's once again Valerie Veselnitskaya and friends. Again.
Mueller has to be looking at Rohrabacher too. You can make the case that Trump may not be fully involved (but knew what was going on) on the Russia side, but there's zero doubt in my mind that Dana Rohrabacher is outright taking orders from a foreign government. Best case he's a fanatic and patsy, but worst case his actions meet the very definition, historical, literal, and legal, of treason.
We'll see how deep this krolichya nora goes.