Russiagate Open Thread: Russian Oligarchs and Their Money

Mueller’s team is now questioning at least three Russian oligarchs on whether they donated money to Donald Trump’s campaign.

The approach to Russian oligarchs in recent weeks may reflect that Mueller’s team has already obtained records or documents that it has legal jurisdiction over and can get easily, one source said, and now it’s a “wish list” to see what other information they can obtain from Russians entering the US or through their voluntary cooperation.

Mueller really does love to meet people at the airport. His people stopped two of the Russians as they arrived.

In January, FBI agents stopped and questioned George Nader, a Middle East specialist, when he arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport….

Ted Malloch, a self-described informal Trump campaign adviser, last week issued a statement saying he was stopped in Boston when returning from an international trip by FBI agents who took his cellphone and questioned him about Republican political operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks.

George Papadopoulos, too, if I recall correctly.

The CNN piece doesn’t name the Russians, but one of them may be Viktor Vekselberg, owner of the conglomerate mentioned here. Or this may be in addition to the others.

Earlier this year, as Donald Trump, then the president-elect, was trying to counter news reports that Russia had hacked the 2016 election to help him win, the head of the American subsidiary of a Russian conglomerate owned by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin made a huge donation to Trump.

On January 6—the day the US intelligence community reported that Putin had approved a covert operation to subvert the presidential campaign to assist Trump—Andrew Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.

And then there’s the ever-popular Konstantin Kilimnik, who found himself a partner in Sam Patten, a lobbyist and political hand who just happens to have worked previously for Cambridge Analytica. I’m going to let you read this one yourself, because it’s too complicated to extract.

Yesterday’s Russia news was that Mueller intends to write a report, which may or may not find its way into our hot little hands.

My current bottom line is that there are multiple Russian connections to people around Trump. No other President has had this kind of connection with a hostile country. In my opinion, he should be impeached for what is known publicly. Of course, the Republican Congress won’t do that, so you know how you have to vote in November.

 

Update: The New York Times joins tonight’s newsdump. Apparently George Nader has some connections to Russia, mainly helping to sell Russian weapons to Iraq, but not confined to that. Part of this story hit me personally. Another of Nader’s connections is Joel Zamel, the CEO of Wikistrat. Some years back, Zamel asked me to join Wikistrat. He had maybe a couple dozen consultants at the time. One was one of Nixon’s far-right idiots, I can’t recall which. I couldn’t be in an organization with that person, I told Zamel. We have a diversity of opinion, he said. I just couldn’t, and now I’m glad I didn’t!

78 replies
  1. 1
    🌷 Martin says:

    I wonder if German Khan is interested in a conversation to get his son in law out of prison.

  2. 2
    Kay says:

    Russian oligarchs

    Oh, yay. I was waiting for the oligarchs part of this. While he has them can he ask them if they laundered money to get it to the NRA?

    Ask about all Right wing groups. It’ll save time.

  3. 3
    JustRuss says:

    Since the thread is open, His Driftness notes that even Chuck Todd has come (kicking and screaming!) around to the notion that Sinclair Broadcasting might be a touch too right wing: http://driftglass.blogspot.com/

  4. 4
    hitchhiker says:

    Agree that meeting them as they disembark is a delightful practice.

    My mood lately is a lotta impatience combined with the occasional burst of hope. Yesterday’s election in WI was a little burst. News that Trump is a subject of the investigation, same.

    Watching the ongoing, shameless stupidity and corruption? That’s just grinding me down.

  5. 5
    piratedan says:

    well, I’m sure that these oligarchs kept various and sundry ledgers to keep track of who owns what GOP politician and special interest group, otherwise they’d be competing against one another in the free marketplace of corrupt politicos…

  6. 6
    Jay says:

    @hitchhiker:


    In somewhat pleasant news from Albany, the the eight members of the “Independent Democratic Caucus” in the State Senate have abruptly decided to abandon their unholy coalition with the Republican majority, dissolve themselves, and rejoin the Democratic Party; Andrea Stewart-Cousins will continue as minority leader and IDC chief Jeff Klein will serve as her deputy. If the indications are correct and the Democrats win the two special elections in the Bronx and Westchester on April 24, she will be the majority leader, and the first woman ever to be one of the “three (or four) men in a room” who make all the real policy decisions in this traditionally not very small-d democratic state.”

    http://yastreblyansky.blogspot.....e.html?m=1

  7. 7
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Mueller isn’t playing. I have no doubt that he will go for Trump’s jugular once he gets him to submit to questioning (either willingly or via subpoena).

  8. 8

    The New York Times has an article on George Nader’s contacts. I’ve updated the top post.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    @hitchhiker:

    Agree that meeting them as they disembark is a delightful practice.

    I’m assuming that the FBI gets to meet them at the gate, or at least at Customs, and doesn’t have to hang around baggage claim like the rest of us. 😂

  10. 10
    wjs says:

    The Wikipedia page for Wikistrat lists James Joyner of OtB as a member of its analytic community.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    @wjs:

    Penetration at all levels, my man.

  12. 12

    @wjs: A lot of people joined Wikistrat. Their website says they now have 2200 members. It was easy to do and sounded like it could be fun. I just didn’t want to be associated with the hard right wing.

  13. 13
    Gin & Tonic says:

    From what I’m reading, Paul Manafort’s day in court didn’t go very well today. I’d link, but I’m on my phone on the Blue Line from ORD.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks. When the judge says “you don’t have much of a case left, do you?” that’s kind of the definition of bad day.

  16. 16

    @piratedan:
    If I understand Adam correctly, that’s a thing. The Russian oligarchs have mostly similar objectives, but they’re not all that well coordinated.

  17. 17
    Cermet says:

    Very smart tactic; Mueller is rather good. Really have those fuckers by the balls. They have to come here for meetings and to run their company’s business here and they can’t get away when caught between the gate and customs. The FBI agents own them until they leave customs. Smart.

  18. 18
    Fair Economist says:

    @Jay:

    In somewhat pleasant news from Albany, the the eight members of the “Independent Democratic Caucus” in the State Senate have abruptly decided to abandon their unholy coalition with the Republican majority, dissolve themselves, and rejoin the Democratic Part

    That is a remarkably apt example of “rats deserting a sinking ship”. Hopefully a bunch will still lose their primaries, because they have earned that. We might have 3 of the 5 most populous states under solid Democratic control by 2019 and that’s going to have effects on the country.

  19. 19
    TenguPhule says:

    How many of these interviewed Russians are going to die fairly quickly of natural causes upon their return to Russia?

  20. 20
    mad citizen says:

    @Cermet: I love how Mueller and his team have so much information available to them–when foreign nationals are flying here, etc.

  21. 21
    Jay says:

    @Fair Economist:

    Yup, putting a politically expediant distance between themselves and Sauron at the 11th hour hasn’t slowed them being primaried at all.

    Apparently it’s not a good look.

  22. 22
    FDRLincoln says:

    Donald Trump’s Voight/Kampff Test, as administered by Robert Mueller

    WASHINGTON
    JUNE, 2018
    [knock on door]
    Mueller: Come in. Sit down.
    Donald: Care if I talk? I’m kind of nervous when I take tests.
    Mueller: Uh, just please don’t move.
    Donald: Oh, sorry. I already had an IQ test this year. I’m a super-genius. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of these-
    Mueller: Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
    Donald: Sure.
    Mueller: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Donald: That’s not a very good hotel.
    Mueller: What?
    Donald: Where I live.
    Mueller: Nice place?
    Donald: No, it’s a dump. . . that part of the test?
    Mueller: No, just warming you up, that’s all.
    Donald: Oh. It’s not fancy or anything.
    Mueller: You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of the sudden-
    Donald: Is this the test now?
    Mueller: Yes. You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look. . .
    Donald: What one?
    Mueller: What?
    Donald: What desert?
    Mueller: It doesn’t make any difference what desert, it’s completely hypothetical.
    Donald: But how come I’d be there?
    Mueller: Maybe you’re fed up, maybe you want to be by yourself, who knows? You look up and you see a Russian oligarch, he’s walking towards you-
    Donald: Oligarch, what’s that?
    Mueller: Know what a Russian billionaire is?
    Donald: Of course.
    Mueller: Same thing.
    Donald: I’ve never seen an oligarch — But I understand what you mean.
    Mueller: You reach out, and you take a bundle of cash, Donald
    Donald: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Mueller, or do they write them down for you?
    Mueller: The oligarch hands you a bundle of cash to launder, Donald, and asks you to change the GOP platform to favor Russia. Your country needs your help, Donald, but you’re not helping.
    Donald: What do you mean I’m not helping?
    Mueller: I mean, you’re not helping. Why is that Donald?
    (Donald twitches and looks nervous)
    Mueller: They’re just questions, Donald. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response. — Shall we continue? Describe in single words, only the good things that come in to your mind about… your daughter
    Donald: My daughter?
    Mueller: Yeah.
    Donald: Let me tell you about my daughter…MAGA!!!
    (end transcript)

  23. 23
    Feebog says:

    Don’t know where Yarrow has been the last few days, but tick tock motherfucker.

  24. 24
    Schlemazel says:

    I noticed that Rudy Gholiani is in for another divorce. He apparently told the media there will be a 50/50 split so, from now on he will be known as Rudy 5/8/01

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    Mueller really does love to meet people at the airport.

    It’s a good place to do that. Once they get on the plane, you know a specific place they’re going to be during a narrow time window, and in an environment where they’re legally forbidden to be armed. IIRC, there are also some rules about ICE being allowed to search their documents and electronics on landing.

  26. 26
    JMG says:

    Not just forbidden to be armed, but unable to enter the country until you let ’em go.

  27. 27
    Yarrow says:

    @Feebog: I’m here! And yes, this newest news report is definitely worthy. Tick tock, motherfuckers!

    @Kay:

    While he has them can he ask them if they laundered money to get it to the NRA?

    Ask about all Right wing groups. It’ll save time.

    The evangelical groups and leaders.

  28. 28
    moops says:

    @Roger Moore: as a foreign national, I’m not that jubilant about how non-citizens lose all but the most basic human rights while transiting the border.

  29. 29

    @TenguPhule:
    If these are the oligarchs, then while Putin is much stronger than any one of them, as a group he fears them. Killing them, if he is even able, could start a government clusterfuck in Russia.

    …please proceed, Dictator.

  30. 30
    Yarrow says:

    @Schlemazel: Rudy is a traitor, just like Don Jr. Their divorces are either a way to shelter assets before all hell breaks loose on them or their wives have recognized they need to get as much money as they can before that happens. Could go either way.

  31. 31
    Barbara says:

    @Jay: Falling into the category of not needing a weatherman to tell them which way the wind blows.

  32. 32

    I think the Russian asset in the WH is deliberately trying to tank the economy
    1. Irresponsible tax cut
    2. Attacking legal immigration
    3. Starting a global trade war
    4. Threatening to leave NAFTA.
    .
    .
    .

  33. 33
    kindness says:

    I think Republicans have played this all too cute by a half and will get burned. They know Donald is in cahoots with the Russian mob & Putin. They didn’t care as long as they got their tax cut and rolled back every regulation they could because they thought they had control of the meme and could cover it up. Paper it over. Ignore it all just like McConnell did with Merrick Garland. Act like it wasn’t there and skate into a fat 2018 election on voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering.

    Karma is a funny thing, ain’t it?

  34. 34

    @Frankensteinbeck: Putin has taken their fortunes from a couple of oligarchs, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for one. Putin has take the traditional Tsar’s role of mediating among the boyars, now known as oligarchs. I don’t know if he’d poison them, but accidents do happen. It’s very hard to judge what might be a tipping point that would cause rebellion, either among the populace or the nobles in Russia. There is a certain level of dissatisfaction, but there is also the caution that when you strike at the Tsar, strike to kill.

  35. 35
    Duane says:

    It’s well past time this poor excuse for a president to address the situation with Russia attacking our elections. The American public deserves answers, and solutions, from our CinC. Besides, his silence makes him appear he’s got something to hide.

  36. 36
    Jay says:

    @Barbara:

    Storm’s still coming.

  37. 37
    Roger Moore says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I think the Russian asset in the WH is deliberately trying to tank the economy

    It’s hard to know if he’s deliberately trying to tank the economy or if he’s stupid enough to think that will help. There are certainly plenty of people out there who are in favor of each part of that program because they think it will help them personally.

  38. 38
    Dopey-o says:

    @moops: even american citizens’ rights are reduced as they transition the border into the USA. It is well-established law, and common sense dictates that like any cellular organism, nations may ‘filter’ what is allowed inside their borders.

  39. 39

    @Cheryl Rofer: Boris Berezhovsky may have committed suicide. Both he and Khodorkovsky were critical of Putin. So it can happen.

  40. 40
    Jay says:

    @moops:

    There has always been a gap in rights between borders.

    In Civilised Countries, it’s not a problem.

    In less than civilized Countries, there are gaps between rights, inside borders.

  41. 41
    Schlemazel says:

    @Yarrow:
    Agreed but when I thought “what is half of 9/11 it occured to me that would be the 127th day of the year.

    BTW – the last of the MSD survivors was released from the hospital. He was shot 5 times while he blocked the door with his own body thereby protecting the other 20 kids in the room. Anthony Borges, 15 years old. Came with his family from Venezuela in order to avoid the violence there. They had to remove 1/3 of a lung and repair a lot of other damage in his abdomen plus 3 shots to his legs.
    The family is hard pressed financially so there is a gofundme if you want to kick in a couple bucks. https://www.gofundme.com/anthonyborges

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    There is a certain level of dissatisfaction, but there is also the caution that when you strike at the Tsar, strike to kill.

    And, I assume, a belief that it’s better to stick with the devil you know. Any government that respects the rule of law is going to want to take away all the oligarchs’ ill-gotten gains, so they’re largely stuck with some kind of dictator. That can be one like Putin, or it could be one much worse. Or, for that matter, toppling Putin might trigger peasant revolt and wind up with all the oligarchs strung up by their entrails.

  43. 43
    Jay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It’s also a three sided pyramid, with the Ogliarches on one side, the Security Services on the other side, the bottom side being the Russian Mob, and Putin at the tippy top.

  44. 44

    @Roger Moore: All the actions taken together don’t make it seem accidental.

  45. 45
    trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:
    It’s like having a 7 year old drive an A380, or perhaps a gerbil (gerbil not driven in this similie). Even on autopilot the fuel eventually runs out.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Yarrow:

    That’s my suspicion as well. Money laundering charges usually carry some kind of fine with them.

  47. 47
    efgoldman says:

    @Duane:

    It’s well past time this poor excuse for a president to address the situation with Russia attacking our elections

    Why? He’d only lie, and then a few days later contradict himself with different lies. He’s incapable of doing things any differently

  48. 48
    TenguPhule says:

    @Yarrow: Fuck the wives too. No innocent spouses there. They knew exactly what they were getting into.

  49. 49
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Agree. Given that he received detailed feedback on what the likely worldwide response would be to his tariffs and had one advisor resign specifically because of that issue, the most charitable thing I’d say is that he is not afraid to tank the economy.

    He probably figures that his desperate deplorables are brainwashed enough to aim their ire at liberals and Democrats, no matter what he does. Let’s see how the soybean and corn farmers react to China’s proposed retaliatory measures, as it directly affects their bottom line. Then we’ll know whether or not Trumpists are truly a cult.

  50. 50
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Killing them, if he is even able, could start a government clusterfuck in Russia.

    Maybe one, of natural causes, but no more because that would be too obvious. The oligarchs are not without power, and some of them would be considered unethical[1] by typical humans. If one is to believe the stories.
    [1] “Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior”, 603 citations as of tonight, lots of argument.

  51. 51
    efgoldman says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Fuck the wives too

    You do it. I’m too old..

  52. 52
    TenguPhule says:

    @efgoldman: Obviously you need a better class of onion.

  53. 53
    Duane says:

    @efgoldman: If he won’t address the nation about his Russian enablers, or lies to the world, then let him be seen as the liar and coward he is.

  54. 54

    @Felanius Kootea: He is trying to destroy the system the post WWII system that the United States set up and has benefited from.

  55. 55
    Ruckus says:

    @mad citizen:
    You get on a plane to fly to the US, customs knows. Passports are routinely scanned as you enter security. And again when you first enter customs after landing. So if you have more than one and switch, they will know.
    And if customs knows, the FBI knows.

  56. 56
    moops says:

    @Jay: The point in having the suppressed rights in the border region is in the interest of national safety and sovereignty. In Mueller’s case he is actually trying to investigate a plot against the US democracy and this is a valid use of these grey areas.

    …but there are other ways the grey area is exploited that have only a carefully crafted narrative can be construed as relevant to the purpose.

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    @moops:
    Until it’s determined that anyone belongs in the US you are not treated as being allowed to enter the country or have any special treatment, citizen or not. There are reasons that I know this. Personally.

  59. 59
    efgoldman says:

    @Duane:

    let him be seen as the liar and coward he is.

    That’s pretty much what the whole country, except for the RWNJ mouth breathers who are unmoored from rreality, and the whole rest of the world, knows long since

  60. 60
    Ruckus says:

    @Duane:
    I’m sorry I was under the impression that you understood how republican politics works. Lie, steal, cheat, fuck over, kill, etc anyone who they don’t like, for whatever reason. Liberals, people of color, women, non member religions – some groups have priority, like anyone black and I’m absolutely sure that I left out a few.

  61. 61
    Duane says:

    @efgo@Ruckus: ldman: Cant argue with that logic. It really is a sad situation. Here’s looking to better days.

  62. 62
    Kay says:

    ABC News
    @ABC
    34m34 minutes ago
    More
    Senators from major soybean-producing states, including Republicans, are blaming Pres. Trump’s aggressive actions against China for trade retaliation that could hit farmers and ranchers particularly hard.

    Donald Trump’s thinking “soybean-producing states? WTF?”

    He doesn’t know anything about any of this.

  63. 63
    efgoldman says:

    @Kay:

    Donald Trump’s thinking “soybean-producing states? WTF?”

    The goobers voted for him. Guess what, goobers?

    Fuckem

  64. 64
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @efgoldman: Leopards, faces, &c.

  65. 65
    El Caganer says:

    @Kay: Why would Trump give a shit? They don’t make Big Macs out of soy.

  66. 66
    debit says:

    @El Caganer: I legit spit water when I read this. Well done.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @debit: Oh good, you didn’t waste booze.

  68. 68
    efgoldman says:

    @El Caganer:

    They don’t make Big Macs out of soy.

    So you say

  69. 69
    Anonymous patient says:

    @moops:

    as a foreign national, I’m not that jubilant about how non-citizens lose all but the most basic human rights while transiting the border.

    Honey, it isn’t just non-citizens who lose all their rights in the airport/port of entry – it’s everyone, you and me and everyone. Not to criticize you, but you are not the only powerless person in the hands of ICE, we are all powerless. Same at a Border Patrol Checkpoint, everyone is powerless at that point in time and space.

    I got shackled, chained to an interrogation bench, and asked to sign a form that said I was willing to be interrogated by the Border Patrol, which I did not sign. A few minutes later, a guy came by, and said “You forgot to sign here…!” pointing to the line which said I gave up my Miranda rights, and I said “I didn’t forget anything!” I did confess to owning the truck/trailer/construction equipment, they had me dead to rights there, by looking at the registration and insurance documents. Since I wasn’t guilty of any federal crimes I was released about 3 am, in West Texas on I-10.

    I do not recommend that anyone travel on I-10, anywhere. Ever. Airports are not quite as bad, unless they’re waiting for you…
    So don’t feel special, we all get screwed by the man at the first opportunity!

  70. 70
    Jay says:

    @moops:

    the right’s for both citizens and foreigners have for well close to 200 years, always been supressed between the landing, and exiting Customs.

    The US has always had way bigger problems with the “supression of rights”, than what occurs between the airplane door and the Customs stamp.

    Every country does it, but not every country or petty official is an asshole about it.

    That’s one way to tell when you are entering a Civilized Country.

  71. 71
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jay: Worst place I was ever treated was the Netherlands.

  72. 72
    Steeplejack says:

    @Schlemazel:

    Thanks for posting the Borges GoFundMe link. I’m going to donate and forward the link to friends and acquaintances.

  73. 73
    eric says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: i read that too fast as “worst place i was ever treated was the Nether regions.” And thought…ouch.

  74. 74
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eric: No, they were a bit abrupt. I am a well-off looking white guy – of course I never have problems.

  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    @efgoldman:
    No, he’s right. They’d have to improve about 12 levels up to be made of soy.

  76. 76
    rikyrah says:

    @JMG:
    Didn’t know that. Thanks for the information.

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @FDRLincoln:
    And that’s a cogent day.

  78. 78
    Lalophobia says:

    Well this looks interesting.

    Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.

    Oh my.

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