Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). I tweet about the law, books, politics, and history. All my threads are here as blog entries: t.co/vdLoEAoLvv Jan. 09, 2019 3 min read

(Thread) Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian organized crime, and the Trumps

What we learn from the new indictment of Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya
 https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/08/politics/indictment-natalia-veselnitskaya/index.html 

Spoiler: A few more pieces come together

(I finally read the indictment!)

1/ In 2007 a “corrupt Russian organization” called Prevezon defrauded Russian taxpayers of millions of rubles and then laundered the money in NY.  https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao-sdny/legacy/2015/03/25/U.S.%20v%20Prevezon%20et%20al.%20Complaint.pdf 

In 2013 the SDNY (Preet Bharara) brought a suit against Prevezon to seize the proceeds of criminal activity.

2/ Money laundering means hiding the origins of illegally gotten money by putting the money through a series of complex transaction.  https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/money_laundering 

Aside: In about the 1980s, foreigners learned that money could be easily laundered through upscale Manhattan real estate.

3/ Veselnitskaya was on Prevezon's defense team.

Today’s indictment accuses Veselnitskaya of obstructing justice in the Prevezon case by lying to the court about her connections to the Russian government.
 https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/08/politics/indictment-natalia-veselnitskaya/index.html 

4/ Specifically, she told the court that she obtained an independent report written by the Russian government showing that her client was innocent.

In fact she herself secretly co-authored the report with a Russian government official.

5/ In her report, she accused Sergei Magnitsky of committing the crimes.

He's the guy, remember, who uncovered a tax scam in which Russian officials defrauded Russian citizens of millions—and then was killed in retaliation in a Russian prison.
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/07/20/whats-really-behind-putins-obsession-with-the-magnitsky-act/?utm_term=.4797341e731b 

6/Magnitsky's murder prompted outrage as a humanitarian crime. The US sanctioned Russia (the Magnitsky Act), designed to target the oligarchs, not the Russian people. In Helsinki with Trump, Putin said the Magnitsky act is the biggest threat to his regime.
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/07/20/whats-really-behind-putins-obsession-with-the-magnitsky-act/?utm_term=.4797341e731b 

7/ So why does the Veselnitskaya indictment matter?

She is accused of defrauding the court in Prevezon Russian laundering case from 2015 to 2017.

The Trump Tower meeting occurred in June of 2016.
 https://www.lawfareblog.com/document-indictment-charging-russian-lawyer-natalia-veselnitskaya-describes-links-kremlin 

8/ If these allegations are true, she was secretly working as agent of the Russian government while meeting with Jr., Kushner, and Manafort in the 2016 Trump Tower Meeting.
 https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/14/politics/donald-trump-jr-meeting/index.html 

9/ In particular, she was secretly working with the Russian government to defend Russian money-launders and slander Magnitsky.

According to some attendees at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, they discussed the Magnitsky Act.  https://www.justsecurity.org/56462/bottom-trump-tower-meeting/ 

10/ Who else was in the room with the Russian agent/lawyer who was defending Russian money laundering?

Paul Manafort—who recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.
 https://www.justice.gov/file/1094151/download 
The same crime. Coincidence?

11/ Also in the room was at least one other person with a personal interest in Russian money laundering.

Who might that be🤔.
(Gimme a T! Gimme an R! . . .)

Remember the story that Trump sold a $40 million estate to a Russian oligarch for $100 million?
 https://www.newsweek.com/trump-sold-40-million-estate-russian-oligarch-100-million-and-democratic-802613 

12/ @Jedshug compared Manafort’s notes from the meeting (which haven’t made much sense until now) and noticed that many of Manafort's notes seem to refer to facts from the Prevezon case and subsequent Magnitsky Act.

13/ Coincidence?

Maybe.
But I just don't think there can be this many coincidences.

Here is some additional information about @PreetBharara, the prosector who went after Prevezon and Russian money laundering:

14/ After Trump was elected, Preet Bharara, who had brought the Prevezon action, said Trump personally reached out to him, and even wanted Bharara's personal cell phone and office numbers, which made Bharara distinctly uncomfortable.
 https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/20/politics/preet-bharara-podcast-trump-firing/index.html 

15/ "It was odd," @PreetBharara said, "because as a general matter, Presidents don't speak directly to United States attorneys. It's unheard of in my experience, You know the number of times President Obama called me? Zero."

Here's why:

16/ One of the pillars of democracy is prosecutorial discretion.  https://www.law.cornell.edu/category/keywords/prosecutorial_discretion 

In autocracies, the autocrat decides who will be investigated, and who will be charged. In our democracy, the functions are separated. The prosecutor makes the decisions independently.

17/ When personal calls came from the Oval office, @PreetBharara pondered what to do. What made this awkward was the kinds of cases Preet prosecutes and where he prosecutes them (Manhattan).
He took a few calls. The president was just shooting the breeze.
 https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/20/politics/preet-bharara-podcast-trump-firing/index.html 

18/ He suspected nobody knew the president was calling him. The next time a call came, he declined it. Trump fired him 20 hours later.  https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/20/politics/preet-bharara-podcast-trump-firing/index.html 
Coincidence?

19/ If you're new to my feed, I've been writing about Trump's history with Russian money laundering in Manhattan. I am not a historian, so I mostly rely on @TimothyDSnyder as my source.

For more on the Trump/ Russian money laundering, see:

All my threads are now blog posts. You can view this one here:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/veselnitskaya-russian-organized-crime-and-the-trumps/ 


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



Bookmark

____
Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.