Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Russiagate: Do We Follow the Money or Follow the Dead Bodies?

Follow the Money:

From USAToday (middle America's newspaper) there's this story about Trump's fear that his finances will be looked into. It's a rational fear, but it's making him irrational.

"The [Mueller] investigation could shine renewed light on eyebrow-raising deals from Trump’s past, such as his 2008 sale of a South Florida mansion to Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million or the international financing behind a condo-hotel he developed with foreign partners in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.

"It could also pierce the increasing secrecy around who is buying real estate from Trump. A USA TODAY investigation last month revealed that 70% of Trump real estate sales since he won the GOP nomination were to secretive shell companies, compared to 4% in the two years before that. The clear shift to those kinds of purchases, which help obscure the identities of the buyers, raise questions about the source of profits that ultimately flow to the President because he has not fully divested from his companies."

There's also this USAToday story about Trump's financial dealings and the cookie crumbs leading to Moscow.

Follow the Dead Bodies:

From BuzzFeed, there is this story about the latest murder of a witness before he could testify in the Russia investigation.

"Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.

"Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong "comprehensive investigation," a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an "accident," and prosecutors closed the case.

"But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were.

"“Lesin was beaten to death,” one of the FBI agents said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into.”"

This article from The Atlantic covers the testimony of William Browder regarding the murder-in-custody of his lawyer, which prompted the Magnitsky Act sanctions in the first place.

"There are approximately ten thousand officials in Russia working for Putin who are given instructions to kill, torture, kidnap, extort money from people, and seize their property. Before the Magnitsky Act, Putin could guarantee them impunity and this system of illegal wealth accumulation worked smoothly. However, after the passage of the Magnitsky Act, Putin’s guarantee disappeared. The Magnitsky Act created real consequences outside of Russia and this created a real problem for Putin and his system of kleptocracy.

"For these reasons, Putin has stated publicly that it was among his top foreign policy priorities to repeal the Magnitsky Act and to prevent it from spreading to other countries. Since its passage in 2012, the Putin regime has gone after everybody who has been advocating for the Magnitsky Act.

"One of my main partners in this effort was Boris Nemtsov. Boris testified in front of the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament, the Canadian Parliament, and others to make the point that the Magnitsky Act was a “pro-Russian” piece of legislation because it narrowly targeted corrupt officials and not the Russian people. In 2015, Boris Nemtsov was murdered on the bridge in front of the Kremlin.

"Boris Nemtsov’s protégé, Vladimir Kara-Murza, also traveled to law-making bodies around the world to make a similar case. After Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, was added to the Magnitsky List in December of 2016, Vladimir was poisoned. He suffered multiple organ failure, went into a coma and barely survived.

"The lawyer who represented Sergei Magnitsky’s mother, Nikolai Gorokhov, has spent the last six years fighting for justice. This spring, the night before he was due in court to testify about the state cover up of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder, he was thrown off the fourth floor of his apartment building. Thankfully he survived and has carried on in the fight for justice."

And while Putin is whacking witnesses and Trump is trying to kill investigations, the Republican apparatus is busy cooking up bogus stories like the one Seth Rich's family is filing suit over. Any time there is a murder the Right will seek to pin it on Democrats.

Trump admires Putin. Trump envies Putin for his ability to assert power however he wishes. Putin is Trump’s role model. Trump would like to change America to make it more like Russia, more of a brutal autocracy in which the elite loots the nation’s wealth and evades the taxes everyone else pays. So what else is new? We already knew all this. Trump has planned all along to turn the United States into a kleptocracy.

A new piece from VOX about Trump's plans for American kleptocracy.

Putin’s Russia is not a free market economy but a kleptocracy, in which Putin skims billions off of every transaction and every deal, in which nobody has wealth or power without Putin taking his cut. What happens to this massive wealth is not good for Russians because it is parked offshore. A lot of it appears to have been laundered through high end real estate transactions here in the U.S., some of them via Trump and Kushner and their associates. (Trumps Commerce Secretary owned and ran a Cypriot bank that was one of the favorite money-laundries used by Putin’s oligarch cronies.) Think of these helpful real estate tycoons as fences receiving stolen goods, in this case those goods are the wealth of an entire country. You might say this isn’t important to Americans, that it may even be good for Americans because they are parking their billions here. The danger is the corruption of our economy, and the corruption of our democracy if our president is a willing money launderer and a co-conspirator with a global criminal gang.

Is it safe for us to think of all these billions being invested in U.S. real estate as a good thing with no down side? The wealth that the Nazis stole from the Jews of Germany and Europe was rationalized to the German people as a confiscation that would benefit them, but it corrupted them and it murdered six million Jews/liberals/gays/minorities; millions of German gentiles also died in the catastrophe that ensued.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home