Ukraine-born billionaire with biz ties to Russian oligarchs is funding Trump’s legal defense via the RNC
Who’s paying for the attorneys representing President Donald Trump in the federal probe of Russian election interference? His legal defense is in part funded through a Republican Party account with a number of rich donors. Among them are a “billionaire investor, a property developer seeking U.S. government visas and a Ukrainian-born American who has made billions of dollars doing business with Russian oligarchs,” reports the WSJ. Oh, and there’s a Rosneft connection, you Putin conspiracy hounds.
The RNC account in question has been historically used to pay for the RNC’s own legal bills, but just last month paid over $300,000 to help cover Trump’s personal legal expenses, Federal Election Commission filings reveal.
Oh, and that same fund also paid about $200,000 to attorneys representing the President’s dumbest son, Don Jr.
From Rebecca Ballhaus at the Wall Street Journal,
In April, billionaire Len Blavatnik gave $12,700 to the RNC’s legal fund, on top of donations of about $200,000 to other RNC accounts. He also gave the legal fund $100,000 in 2016, according to FEC filings.
The contribution from Mr. Blavatnik came during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, a month before the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee its probe of Russian interference—which subsequently prompted Mr. Trump to hire a private legal team.
Moscow has denied interfering in the election. Mr. Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russia and called the investigations a “witch hunt.”
A spokesman for Mr. Blavatnik didn’t return a request for comment. The White House referred questions to the RNC.
Mr. Blavatnik, who was born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, and moved to the U.S. in his early 20s, amassed his fortune in Russia in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He is a longtime business partner of Viktor Vekselberg, who is one of the richest men in Russia and has close ties to the Kremlin.
In 2013, Mr. Blavatnik earned billions when he, Mr. Vekselberg and two other partners sold their stake in the oil company TNK-BP to Rosneft, a Kremlin-controlled oil company.Rosneft’s chief executive is Igor Sechin, a top ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin.
During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Blavatnik through his company donated to several Republican presidential campaigns, including for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. He didn’t donate to Mr. Trump’s campaign.
Washington Examiner–23 minutes ago
Earlier this week a curious storyline emerged: the Republican National Committee was paying Donald Trump’s attorney fees in the Russia scandal for no apparent reason. Now the other shoe has dropped, and it’s become clear why the RNC has been willing to shovel six figures worth of money in Trump’s direction: the money is being funneled through the RNC to Trump by way of a Kremlin oligarch.
Len Blavatnik was born in Ukraine, raised in Russia, and now has dual U.S. citizenship – but he’s a Kremlin oligarch who makes his money by doing business with his fellow Kremlin oligarchs. According to the Wall Street Journal, he’s donating money to the RNC legal fund, which is in turn being funneled to Donald Trump’s Russia attorneys (link). Because of the dual citizenship, Blavatnik’s donations to American political entities are technically legal, but in practical terms this reads like the Kremlin finding a way to pay Trump’s legal bills in the Russia scandal. This is not the first time Blavatnik has surfaced in this role.
Back on May 24th of this year, Palmer Report brought you the story of how Len Blavatnik had donated millions of dollars to key Republican political leaders including Mitch McConnell and Scott Walker in 2016 (link). Months later, in August, the Dallas Morning News confirmed our reporting (link). Now the same Kremlin oligarch is funneling money through the Republican National Committee to fund Donald Trump’s legal defense.
Each of Blavatnik’s largest donations just happened to go to a Republican who played a convenient role in ushering Donald Trump into office. McConnell worked behind the scenes during the election to try to prevent the Russia meddling from becoming public. Walker is the Governor of Wisconsin, a state which Trump won in nearly statistically impossible fashion. Now, after Blavatnik paid off these two politicians, he’s paying for Trump’s attorneys.
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CNN Special Report “Twitter and Trump” with Bill Weir explores the President’s prolific and controversial use of the social media platform Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook,”
. “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?” (Why is “Media” capitalized? I ask myself these questions all the time.)
Then, shortly after that first tweet came
: “The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media ‘screaming’ for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate!”
The problem with that line of thinking is that it’s a) wrong and b) leaves the US open to future intrusions by foreign powers on our elections.
How is it wrong? Because every intelligence agency in a position to know has said there is definitiveproof Russia was seeking to meddle in the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Trump and hurting Clinton. The CIA. The FBI. The NSA.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”
Unless you believe that all three of our major intelligence agencies are involved in some sort of elaborate scheme to trump — ahem — up the idea that Russia sought to influence the election on behalf of Trump, then the president’s charges of “hoax” ring totally false.
Trump’s national security H.R. McMaster insisted to CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday that Trump took seriously the allegations against Russia.
“The questions about what they did, who might have helped them and how to stop it, you believe those are all legitimate questions for us to look at?,” host Chris Cuomo asked.
“Of course, and so does the President,” replied McMaster.
But his tweets tell another story. Why would Trump knowingly defy the unanimous assessment of his intelligence agencies on Russian influence? Because, in his mind, validating that, yes, of course, Russia sought to meddle in the election somehow de-legitimizes his victory. As if the fact that Russia was actively involved in trying to help him means he didn’t win on his own or didn’t win fair and square.
That is, obviously, not true. While all the relevant intelligence agencies agree that Russia sought to meddle in the election on Trump’s behalf, none of them have come forward with any evidence that suggests any actual vote tampering occurred. As in: Russia tried to help Trump but it’s not clear — at least when it comes to directly messing with votes — they succeeded.
Trump is blind — willfully or otherwise — to that set of facts.
The insistence by Trump that the news media’s role in the campaign was somehow more threatening than a foreign power’s attempt to influence an American election is mind-boggling.
It’s also dangerous. Here’s why.
Every intelligence official — from former FBI Director James Comey to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — agrees that Russia views their role in the 2016 election as a success and that they will be back for more come 2018 and 2020.
By minimizing the threat posed by Russians trying to influence US elections, Trump is ensuring that whatever Mueller finds will be seen through a totally partisan lens by many of his followers. It won’t be taken at face value or anything close to it.
And, that’s not even the biggest problem! The biggest problem is that the president of the United States has repeatedly and publicly denied the idea that Russia was involved in trying to throw the election to him. That means that whatever recommendations Mueller — and the congressional committees also investigating Russia’s role in 2016 — make to Trump about how to keep this from happening again are likely to be ignored or minimized.
Which, in turn, makes it more likely to happen again. That’s dangerous for our democracy.
At the annual United Nations gathering in New York this week, Mr. Trump called the nuclear deal “an embarrassment to the United States,” and Mr. Rouhani retorted, in his own address: “It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by ‘rogue’ newcomers to the world of politics.”
Upon his return from New York, Mr. Rouhani strongly defended Iran’s right to self-defense.
“We will increase our military power as a deterrent,” he said. “We will strengthen our missile capabilities. We will not seek anyone’s permission to defend our land. Not only will we fortify our missiles, but our ground, navy and air forces will always be supported by the people.”
The unveiling of the new missile, called the Khoramshahr, comes two months after Iran launched a missile into space, prompting a new round of sanctions and criticism from the United States.
“Rouhani is playing hardball,” said Sanam Vakil, an Iran scholar at Chatham House, a think tank in London, and at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “By promising to step up Iran’s ballistic-missile program, Rouhani seeks to gain support from Iranian hard-liners who have long been critical of the nuclear deal, and who have repeatedly accused him of being soft in international relations. Moreover, hard-liners, such as Iran’s supreme leader, believe compromise with the United States is a futile exercise.”
She added: “History and the experience of other rogue states such as North Korea has also shown the Iranian government that it is only from a position of strength that regimes such as Iran’s can be protected.”
In his remarks, Mr. Rouhani said that Iran was ready to “defend the innocent people of Yemen, Syria and Palestine,” and would “strengthen our defensive and military power as much as we deem necessary for deterrence.”
The state-run news agency IRNA quoted the chief of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, as saying that the new missile “can carry several warheads for various uses.” The agency did not provide further information on the missile.
Mr. Rouhani, a moderate, has staked his reputation on sealing the nuclear deal and relieving the Iranian economy of debilitating international sanctions. In a rejoinder to Mr. Trump’s call to renegotiate the nuclear deal, he said that “all countries” at the General Assembly meeting supported the nuclear deal, “except the United States and the Zionist regime,” a reference to Israel.
“Like North Korea, Iran is responding to Trump’s bellicosity by its own display of strength, to show it is not cowed,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank.
He cautioned that Iran’s claim that the new missile could carry multiple warheads “needs to be taken with a grain of salt,” adding that the it “may mean nothing more than multiple cluster bombs,” not the kind of ballistic missile payload — multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle, or MIRV — associated with nuclear missiles.
Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, has said that the Iran nuclear agreement must be changed or the United States would not stick with it. Iran has said the accord is not up for renegotiation.
The possibility that Washington might renege on the deal has worried some countries, especially as the world grapples with North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development.
This week, Foreign minister Wang Yi of China said that tensions on the Korean Peninsula highlighted the importance of the Iranian deal, and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said that the United States’ imposition of unilateral sanctions on Iran was “illegitimate and undermines the collective nature of international efforts.”