Last night's Trump regime/Russia bombshell (so many these days) comes from Jenna McLaughlin at Foreign Policy magazine, reporting the same Russian lawyer that Donald Trump Jr. met with in June 2016, Natalie Veselnitskaya, was the central figure in a huge Russian money laundering case that Attorney General Jeff Sessions suddenly settled after Trump fired the lead US Attorney prosecuting the case: one Mr. Preet Bharara.
Democratic congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee want to know why Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly settled a money laundering case in May involving the same Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the presidential election to offer “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The civil forfeiture case was filed in 2013 by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — who was fired by Trump in March. The case alleged that 11 companies were involved in a tax fraud in Russia and then laundered a portion of the $230 million they got into Manhattan real estate.
The forfeiture case was heralded at the time as “a significant step towards uncovering and unwinding a complex money laundering scheme arising from a notorious foreign fraud,” Bharara said. “As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate.”
But Instead of proceeding with the trial as scheduled, the Trump Justice Department settled the case two days before it was due to begin. By then, Bharara had already been axed by the president. Bharara’s assistant did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“We write with some concern that two events may be connected—and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts,” wrote 17 Democratic Congressmen on the House judiciary panel in a letter to Sessions on Wednesday.
The Russian attorney who uncovered the tax fraud scheme, Sergei Magnitsky, mysteriously died in prison. As a result, U.S. lawmakers passed the Magnitsky Act, which levied sanctions on Russian officials—sanctions that Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney, worked to reverse.
This is so ridiculously quid pro quo that it's approaching cartoonish, but there you are.
A credible theory at this point is this: Preet Bharara was bringing a massive federal money laundering case against US companies working with Russian firms. The probability that the Trump regime was directly involved in that case through its corporate entities is approaching like 99.999%, and the trial would have almost certainly publicly revealed not only the relationship between Trump's businesses and Russian money laundering but also the relationship between Veselnitskaya and Trump Jr. Ergo, Trump fired Bharara and Jeff Sessions settled the case to make it go away.
I really hope the Dems on the committee can crack this wide open, but it's painfully obvious when you look at the rest of the evidence what happened here. Trump knew it, Sessions knew it, so Bharara had to go.
The money laundering side of the Russia/Trump story was always going to be the most criminal and most damaging, and it's where Trump and Sessions have taken the most action to cover themselves. The Trumpies can deploy smokescreens on the collusion angle and make arguments all day about "being unpatriotic isn't treason" but there's not a whole lot they could do to polish the turd of "Trump helped Russians spend Moscow mobster money to buy Manhattan real estate and got a cut."
Ahh, dear reader, but there's more from this morning after the jump...