A new trove of more than 13 million leaked documents implicates top officials and associates of President Donald Trump—as well as foreign politicians—in shady business relationships tied to offshore financial accounts.
In at least two cases, the documents highlight top administration officials’ previously undisclosed connections to Russia and Kremlin-linked interests.
The so-called Paradise Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the same publication that obtained the “Panama Papers.” Süddeutsche Zeitung shared the new documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which led a global effort of 96 media organizations from 67 countries to pore through the records. The findings were published on Sunday.
The documents show that many of the wealthy individuals Trump brought into his administration have worked to legally store their money in offshore havens where they would be free from taxation in the United States. Trump has promised repeatedly to “drain the swamp,” in condemning the idea that well-connected individuals in Washington, D.C., preserve their own interests at the expense of the rest of the country.
Among the Trump administration officials implicated in the leaks is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who according to the documents concealed his ties to a Russian energy company that is partly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s judo partner Gennady Timchenko and Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov. Through offshore investments, Ross held a stake in Navigator Holdings, which had a close business relationship with the Russian firm. Ross did not disclose that connection during his confirmation process on Capitol Hill.
“In concealing his interest in these shipping companies—and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs—Secretary Ross misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in a statement on Sunday. He characterized Ross’ financial disclosures as a “Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous companies.”
Ross has been linked to Russian interests before; in 2014, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Bank of Cyprus, an institution regarded by financial watchdogs as a haven for Russian money laundering. Ross became a vice chair of the bank, along with a reported former KGB official. Ross was joined in his investment by the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Former Deutsche Bank executive Josef Ackermann was installed as chairman. Deutsche Bank—one of Trump’s biggest creditors—subsequently paid hundreds of millions to settle disputes that it shipped $10 billion or more to Russia in suspect loans.
Ahh, but Ross isn't alone.
Top White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is also implicated. The documents reveal that Russian tech leader Yuri Milner invested $850,000 in a startup called Cadre that Kushner co-founded in 2014.
Milner has long had a reputation in Silicon Valley as a big-league investor; his firm at one point owned major chunks of both Facebook and Twitter. But Milner was never considered particularly Kremlin-connected. These new documents call that reputation into question. The investing arm of Gazprom, the state-backed energy company, financed a share of Facebook worth up to $1 billion; A Kremlin-owned bank invested $191 million into a Milner firm, and some of that money was then injected into Twitter.
Despite Milner’s investment in his startup, Kushner said in July that he told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting that he never “relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.”
Representatives for Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), the chairman and vice chairman of the committee, did not immediately return requests for comment. Kushner, who still has a stake in Cadre, did not previously disclose the firm’s other business ties.
So to recap, both Trump's Commerce Secretary and, you know, his son-in-law
, are neck deep in Russian money laundering. No big deal.
But I guarantee you Mueller's been on this trail for months. Kushner, Ross, the Flynns, Sessions...lots of perjurt, lots of lies to Senate committees, lots of straight up criminal activity.
I still think the Flynns are either cooperating or will soon be. As to who's next, things get really interesting when we eventually get to Kushner. That's when Trump will make his move.
Of course, that move could come a lot sooner if it's Trump's own son in the dock
A Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s oldest son last year says he indicated that a law targeting Russia could be re-examined if his father won the election and asked her for written evidence that illegal proceeds went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said in a two-and-a-half-hour interview in Moscow that she would tell these and other things to the Senate Judiciary Committee on condition that her answers be made public, something it hasn’t agreed to. She has received scores of questions from the committee, which is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Veselnitskaya said she’s also ready -- if asked -- to testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Her June 9, 2016 encounter with Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort in New York plays a key role in allegations that the campaign worked with Russia to defeat Clinton.
Veselnitskaya said she went to New York to show Trump campaign officials that major Democratic donors had evaded U.S. taxes and to lobby against the so-called Magnitsky law that punishes Russian officials for the murder of a Russian tax accountant who accused the Kremlin of corruption.
Vladimir isn't getting what he wants right now. He wants sanctions from the Magintsky Act gone and doesn't understand why Trump can't deliver on his promises...so maybe it's time to put some serious pressure on him ahead of the expected Putin-Trump meeting in Vietnam later this week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Council summit.
Having one of his agents saying she will fully cooperate with Mueller on Donny Jr's collusion
is about as "pressure" as it gets.
Keep in mind that there's plenty of other Moscow connections to Trump's businesses
being investigated too.
Documents released last week as part of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea show that Mueller’s team is deeply interested in the Trump campaign’s operations, including possible links to Moscow, at even the lowest levels. And Mueller’s interest in Russian contacts may extend to Trump’s business, as well, with the special counsel’s office recently asking for records related to a failed 2015 proposal for a Moscow Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the request.
A key question in the investigation — and one that hangs over Trump’s presidency — is whether these instances add up to a concerted Russian government effort to probe and infiltrate the Trump campaign, or whether they were isolated coincidences and, therefore, inconsequential. Ultimately, Mueller must decide whether anyone in Trump’s orbit coordinated with the Russians, and, if so, if such actions were illegal or just unseemly. Collusion itself is not a crime.
The new court filings, along with recent interviews and other documents reviewed by The Washington Post, reveal more details than were previously known about the extent to which Trump’s campaign became a magnet for people who believed U.S. policy toward Russia should be retooled — and for Russians who agreed.
In all, documents and interviews show there are at least nine Trump associates who had contacts with Russians during the campaign or presidential transition. Some are well-known, and others, such as Papadopoulos, have been more on the periphery.
We'll see what Mueller, Congress, and America does with this information. Again, anything directly implicating Trump's family (Kushner or Trump Jr.) forces him to try to make his move to fire Mueller, that's when the real fight begins. That's coming soon, trust me.
And it's when we decide whether or not we're still in what's left of a representative democracy or a proto-fascist authoritarian regime.