The Russian attorney who landed a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during last years presidential campaign with the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton had one huge thing in common with the Democratic candidate: Both had opposed Russia sanctions targeting human-rights abusers.
Former Secretary of State Clintons first resistance happened with a speech her husband gave in Moscow a connection her 2016 campaign fought to downplay in the press, according to WikiLeaks-released documents.
Trump White House officials today are trying to draw attention to this speech and the Clintons ties to Russia in an attempt to counter criticism over Trump Jr.s now-infamous meeting.
If you want to talk about having relationships with Russia, I’d look no further than the Clintons, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing. Bill Clinton was paid a million dollars to provide a speech to a Russian bank thanked by President Putin.
“With the help of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to associate HRC’s opposition to the Magnitsky charge a speech that WJC gave in Moscow. ”
The former president had received a call from then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressing his appreciation. According to Mrs. Clintons ethics disclosure form filed while she was secretary of State, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 from the Russia-based finance company Renaissance Capital for his June 29, 2010, speech in Moscow to its guests and employees attending the corporation’s yearly conference.
The speech is now coming back to haunt the Clintons, considering the firm that cut the test was allegedly tied to the scandal that spurred the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill that imposed sanctions on Russians designated as human-rights abusers and eventually would become law in 2012.
This was the same law Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was lobbying against during her sit-down with Trump Jr. last year. And back in 2010, it would have put the Clintons on her side.
Shortly before Bill Clintons speech in 2010, when members of Congress pushing against the sanctions bill had asked Hillary Clinton to refuse visas to Russian officials implicated under the policy, the State Department denied the petition. The Obama administration initially was compared to Magnitsky Act because then-President Barack Obama was seeking a reset with Russia and did not want to deepen the divide between the two nations.
Former President Bill Clintons speech to Renaissance only weeks later was all the more curious, considering Renaissances Russian investment bank executives would have been banned from the U.S. under the law.
Fast-forward to 2015, and the timeline apparently had caught the interest of Bloomberg News.
According to a memo from Clintons presidential campaign team later published by WikiLeaks, however, the Clinton campaign was able to stop the presses.
With the assistance of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to link HRCs opposition to the Magnitsky charge a $500,000 speech that WJC gave in Moscow, Jesse Lehrich, on the Rapid Response Communications team for Hillary For America, boasted on May 21, 2015.
The Global Magnitsky Act was appointed for tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in the custody of the Russian government after accusing the government and organized crime of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from a foreign company, Hermitage Capital Management. Magnitsky, hired by foreign investor and Hermitage proprietor William Browder, had monitored what turned out to be hundreds of millions of dollars in tax fraud. He reported the fraud to the Russian authorities, but rather than pursuing charges against the alleged offender, Russian authorities jailed Magnitsky.
After Magnitsky expired in November 2009, Browder said Magnitsky proved Renaissance officials were among those orchestrating the plot.
The State Department reversed its position in 2011 and denied visas to some Russians allegedly involved in the fraud seeking to enter the country.
The Magnitsky Act passed in 2012 with bipartisan support.
Russia retaliated against the U.S., ending any chance for Americans to embrace Russian orphans andalso banning 18 U.S. officials from entering their country.
Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on homeland security crime immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman
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