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May 14, 2018

Strange Redfellows: The Weird Collusion Between Fusion GPS and the Russian Government

At the Wall Street Journal, by Tunku Varadarajan.

Varadarajan recounts the William Browder's history with Sergei Magnitsky and the Russian government -- gangster-entrepreneurs connected to the Russian government stole Magnitsky's money, then the government jailed Magnitsky and beat him to death him in prison when he complained of it.

In response, the US passed the Magnitsky Act, which would freeze Russian officials out of the global banking system. Something Putin and the oligarch-gangsters don't like, because they want to hide their money outside of Russia in case they ever are forced to flee from that country.

The Russians hired a law firm to try to undo the 2012 act, and that law firm hired Fusion GPS.

The law--and Mr. Browder--featured most recently in the drama surrounding the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who in June 2016 met with representatives of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The story also involves Fusion GPS, the Washington-based opposition-research firm contracted by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic Party to investigate Mr. Trump's possible Russia connections. "Putin hates the Magnitsky Act, as we know," Mr. Browder says, "and looks for different ways to stop it. And one of his projects--well-resourced, with millions of dollars--was Veselnitskaya. She was deputized for this project because she represented the Katsyv family--Putin cronies caught up in laundering some Magnitsky money in the U.S. Some of that money enabled the purchase of apartment buildings in New York by Denis Katsyv, whose father is a government official close to Putin." (In May 2017 Mr. Katsyv's company, Prevezon Holdings, reached a $5.9 million settlement with the U.S. government, thereby avoiding a trial. The company and the Katsyvs denied any wrongdoing.)

In Mr. Browder’s account, Ms. Veselnitskaya came to America on behalf of the Katsyvs when the U.S. Justice Department began a forfeiture order for the properties. Ms. Veselnitskaya then began "a legal campaign to extricate the Katsyvs" from the case "and a political campaign to repeal the Magnitsky Act." She hired John W. Moscow, a lawyer with the firm Baker Hostetler, who "brought Glenn Simpson on as part of their team" in 2014. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last August, Mr. Simpson, Fusion GPS's founder and a former Journal reporter, said his firm provided litigation support to Baker Hostetler in the Prevezon case. Mr. Browder says that Mr. Simpson "got very energized in the spring of 2016 and basically started to work on behalf of Veselnitskaya, who has since been shown to be a Russian agent."

Mr. Browder is referring to Ms. Veselnitskaya’s public acknowledgment that she is "an informant" for the Russian prosecutor general's office. "That makes her an agent," Mr. Browder insists. "So Glenn Simpson was working, effectively, also as an agent for the Russian government, as an adjunct to the Russian FSB," the KGB’s successor. "At the same time . . . he's doing this project to create a dossier on Trump."

Mr. Browder tells me he heard from reporters that as the campaign against the Magnitsky Act proceeded, Mr. Simpson was pitching a story that "Magnitsky wasn"t murdered, he died of natural causes," that "Magnitsky wasn't a whistleblower, he was a criminal," and that "Bill Browder telling this story is in contempt of Congress and perjuring himself." (Through a lawyer, Mr. Simpson declined to comment. In November Mr. Simpson testified before the House Intelligence Committee: "I obviously think Sergei Magnitsky was killed in prison by neglect, if not worse.")

He was beaten to death. How could that be "neglect"? Did they neglect to beat him in such a way that the bruises wouldn't show?

It can't be the case that Veselnitskya was a Russian agent connected to the FSB when she met with Don Trump Jr. but was not a Russian agent connected to the FSB when she hired Glenn Simpson to smear Browder and the murder victim Magnitsky's memory.

The media (apart from the WSJ and Fox and a few others) never talks about this aspect of the Fusion GPS operation. It confuses the narrative too much to have the alleged anti-Russian-influence crusader Glenn Simpson simultaneously acting as a Russian agent and influencer.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 01:56 PM

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