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The FBI eavesdropped on meetings involving Russian intelligence personnel in New York City, including a suspected spy posing as a trade representative, by hiding recorders in binders containing supposedly confidential information about the energy sector, U.S. prosecutors said. The hours of covert recordings from 2013 were disclosed in papers filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday in the case of Evgeny Buryakov, a Russian citizen who U.S. prosecutors say posed as a banker while participating in a Cold War-style spy ring. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s eavesdrops enabled the agency to penetrate the workplaces of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, and hear about Buryakov’s work for it, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, in April 2012, Sporyshev met an undercover FBI employee posing as an analyst at a New York energy firm at an oil and gas industry conference. Over the next two years, they met to discuss the industry and other economic and political issues, prosecutors said, with Sporyshev providing gifts and cash for information. In 2013, the FBI employee began providing Sporyshev with the binders containing purported industry analysis he wrote, supporting documents, and “covertly placed recording devices,” prosecutors wrote.
Evgeny Evgenievich Buryakov (Russian: Евгений Евгеньевич Буряков; born c. 1975) is a convicted Russian spy. He was arrested on January 26, 2015, charged with, and pleading guilty to, spying on the United States for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Buryakov was a New York-based Deputy Representative of Vnesheconombank, Russia's state-owned national development bank. Buryakov operated with non-official cover, and was thus not entitled to diplomatic immunity. Buryakov conducted his espionage with the assistance of Igor Sporyshev, Trade Representative of the Russian Federation to New York, and Victor Podobnyy, an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. In exchange for pleading guilty, Buryakov received a reduced sentence of 30 months in federal prison and fined $100,000. He was released early from prison on 31 March 2017 and deported from the United States six days later.
The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes is a 2016 docudrama feature film directed by Andrei Nekrasov, concerning the 2009 death in a Moscow prison cell, after 11 months in police custody, of 37-year-old Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky. In 2007, Magnitsky was hired by American-born British financier Bill Browder to investigate the government's seizure of three of Browder's Russian subsidiaries. Discovering evidence of embezzlement, Magnitsky implicated two senior police officers in a tax rebate scam that used shell corporations plundered from Browder's holdings to defraud the Russian treasury of $230 million. Subordinates of those officials then arrested Magnitsky and charged him with the very crime he had exposed. After initially presenting this widely accepted narrative, The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes proposes a counternarrative that, as The Guardian relates, "Magnitsky was not beaten while in police custody, and that he did not make any specific allegations against individuals in his testimony to Russian authorities." By suggesting that Magnitsky was, as paraphrased by The New York Times, "an accomplice rather than a victim," the documentary has provoked international controversy. The film takes its title from the Magnitsky Act, a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, designed to punish Russian officials allegedly responsible for Magnitsky's death.
The film's premiere was set for the European Parliament in Brussels on April 27, 2016. The event was organized by Finnish Green Party politician and MEP Heidi Hautala. In 2010, Hautala introduced her then-boyfriend Andrei Nekrasov to Bill Browder. Now Nekrasov had made a film featuring extensive interview footage of Browder and challenging his single-handed control of the Magnitsky narrative.
At the eleventh hour, the premiere was canceled. The New York Times said threats of libel suits from Bill Browder accusing Nekrasov of defaming both him and Magnitsky had accompanied the cancellation. Nekrasov blamed two last-minute interventions. The first was from MEP Marieluise Beck, unhappy because Nekrasov refused to remove her interview segment from his film. The second objection, which Nekrasov considered decisive, came from the film's principal sponsor, German public television broadcaster ZDF. Along with its French public television subsidiary Arte, ZDF also shelved the film a few days before its scheduled telecast.
The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes premiered in Oslo, Norway in June 2016.
In June 2016, The New York Times reported that the film was "generating a furor." On June 13, it was shown by invitation only at the Newseum, a private museum in Washington, D.C. dedicated to the news industry. The Washington Post called it part of "a campaign to discredit Browder and the Magnitsky Act." Lawyers for Browder and Sergei Magnitsky's mother demanded that the screening be canceled. The New York Times said showing it at the Newseum, which "sits on Pennsylvania Avenue in the shadow of the Capitol," was "especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides." Besides congressional staffers, invitees included representatives from the United States Department of State and the White House National Security Council."
The Daily Beast reported that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. four days earlier to criticize the Magnitsky Act, paid for and attended the Newseum screening, to which Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was invited to "try to recruit him to the Russian cause."
When management refused to cancel the event, The Nation wrote that "the Newseum deserves great credit for sticking to its principles," adding that "the film provides a valuable service by asking how it is that American (and European) officials bought Browder's story without doing even the slightest due diligence. The American and European legislators who took Browder's version of events on faith now look credulous, at best."
The Washington Post, however, editorialized, "The film is a piece of agitprop that mixes fact and fiction to blame Magnitsky for the fraud and absolve Russians of blame for his death." According to The Post, "Mr. Nekrasov declares, 'Magnitsky wasn't a whistleblower. Magnitsky did not accuse any police officers. Magnitsky did not even investigate anything.' He adds, 'The young man died in a Russian prison. I do not believe it was murder. It was a case of negligence and the Russian system is to blame in many ways, but it wasn't murder; he wasn't murdered by the Russian state as Mr. Browder claims.' This is just what President Vladimir Putin and his honchos want the West to hear."
The Post predicted, "The film won't grab a wide audience but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin's increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky's family. We don't worry that Mr. Nekrasov's film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions."
Source D, according to the dossier, had been "present" for Trump's alleged "perverted conduct in Moscow."
Source E, meanwhile," acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform," according to the dossier.
Source E also claimed that the Trump campaign and Russia had moles in the Democratic Party; that US-based "cyber operators" were coordinating attacks on the DNC and Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta; and that these operators were being paid covertly via Russian "diplomatic staff" in "key" US cities via that Russia's emigre pension system.
Millian is believed to be a key source in a collection of memos Steele wrote between June and December of 2016 outlining Trump and his campaign members' alleged ties to Russian officials. The memos allege that Moscow and the Trump campaign worked hand in hand at points to influence the US election.
Millian, who changed his name when he arrived in the US from Siarhei Kukuts to Sergei Millian, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006. He has described himself as an exclusive broker for the Trump Organization with respect to the company's potential real-estate dealings in Russia.
Simpson referred to the Russian-American Chamber as a "shadowy kind of trade group."
"Russians are known to use chambers of commerce and trade groups for intelligence operations," Simpson said.
Millian attended several black-tie events at Trump's inauguration. He told the Russian news agency RIA that he had been in touch with the Trump Organization as late as April 2016. He was also photographed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a longtime business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
There were also discrepancies in his resume, Simpson said in his testimony. "In one resume he said he was from Belarus and he went to Minsk State, and then in another he was from Moscow and went to Moscow State," Simpson said. "In one he said he worked for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry; in the other, he said he worked for the Russian Foreign Ministry."
"As further time went on, we found [Millian] was connected to Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer," Simpson told the House committee. "Michael Cohen was very adamant that he didn't actually have a connection to Sergi, even though he was one of only like 100 people who followed Sergi on Twitter. And they — we had Twitter messages back and forth between the two of them just — we just pulled them off of Twitter."
Millian did not return a request for comment. Cohen told Business Insider earlier this month that the last time he spoke to Millian was in November 2016, days before the election, in which they exchanged "4-6 emails." He said he not have access to the emails offhand but offered to share their content later.
Millian has also worked with Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government organization whose "fundamental" goal is to familiarize "young people from different countries" with Russian culture through exchange trips to Moscow. The FBI has investigated whether Rossotrudnichestvo is a front for the Russian government to cultivate "young, up-and-coming Americans as Russian intelligence assets" — a theory Rossotrudnichestvo has strongly denied.
Simpson mentioned Millian's work for Rossotrudnichestvo in his testimony, noting that the organization had landed on the FBI's radar for allegedly conducting recruiting operations. Last January, however, Millian told Mother Jones he "never got any business with Rossotrudnichestvo." He did not respond to requests from Business Insider to clarify.
While Millian was not directly named in the version of the dossier that was published by BuzzFeed last January, he was "someone who was important," Simpson said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented a draft law to create a gambling zone in Crimea, now that the Kremlin has declared the Ukrainian territory part of Russia. By law casinos are restricted to four special areas in Russia, all a long way from Moscow. Now Crimea will become the fifth area, under Mr Putin's plan. So far only Azov City, a coastal area east of Crimea, has opened casinos.
On September 21, 2016, the Daily Mail published an article claiming that Weiner had engaged in sexting with a 15-year-old girl from North Carolina, and devices owned by Weiner were seized as part of an investigation into this incident. The report prompted a criminal investigation and Weiner's laptop was seized. Emails that were pertinent to the Hillary Clinton email controversy were discovered on the laptop; this prompted FBI Director James Comey to reopen that investigation 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. Hillary Clinton has cited Comey's decision as the reason why she lost the election to Donald Trump.
Agents at the FBI headquarters in Washington later obtained their own search warrant and looked at the laptop in connection with its investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of classified information as State Secretary. But there was a notable difference between the Washington warrant and the New York one. The New York one read, in part: “Depending on circumstances, a complete review of the seized [electronically stored information] may require examination of all of the seized data to evaluate its contents and determine whether the data is responsive to the warrant.” The Washington one read, in part: “Law enforcement personnel will make reasonable efforts to restrict their search to data falling within the categories of evidence specified in the warrant.” That would suggest the New York agents could look at everything, while the Washington investigators worded its warrant in a way that restricted them to look only at data regarding the mishandling of classified information.
Agents, along with the country, had just absorbed the troubling optics of Attorney General Loretta Lynch meeting privately with the husband of the investigation’s primary target on a jet tarmac just days earlier. And then hours after that debacle, the FBI announced Hillary would venture to its headquarters, in a matter of hours, to finally answer the bureau’s lingering questions about how she handled classified and top secret emails as secretary of state.
We say Clinton investigations, plural, because there were really two parallel inquiries that unfolded during the year-long FBI probe. There was the public email and home server investigation but agents were also building a pay-for-play criminal case involving Clinton, the Clinton Foundation and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. And that case was growing serious wings.
The FBI case agents and support personnel are forbidden to “go public” or comment on the record to share their frustrations and dismay because they each signed an unprecedented confidentiality agreement prior to signing onto work the Clinton investigation. Violating that agreement would likely cost them their careers and pensions. Regardless, True Pundit conducted interviews with FBI assets and support personnel who collectively painted a dark insiders’ portrait of the Clinton criminal probe which was commissioned to determine how Clinton and her aides handled, maintained, stored and ultimately botched some of the most sensitive information ever breached in the country’s 240-year history. True Pundit’s interviews and intelligence gathering on the Clinton investigation found:
- Allegations of pay-for-play involving the Clinton Foundation were not properly vetted, ultimately white washed
- FBI agents were blocked from serving search warrants to retrieve key evidence
- Attempts to secure Clinton’s medical records to confirm her head injury were sabotaged by FBI Director James Comey
- FBI agents were not allowed to interrogate witnesses and targets without warning
- Clinton and aides were provided special VIP accommodations during interviews
- FBI suspended standard investigative tactics employed in other probes
- FBI agents efforts were often blocked, suppressed by FBI, DOJ brass
- Agents lost faith that their superiors and DOJ wanted to see the case reach a grand jury
John Giacalone was the supervisor of the bureau’s National Security Branch and also the FBI brains and genesis behind the Clinton email and private server investigation. He first approached Comey in 2015 for the green light to probe how the former secretary of state operated her private email server and handled classified correspondences. Rumors had been swirling in intelligence circles. Once approved, Giacalone spearheaded the investigation, and helped hand select top agents who were highly skilled but also discreet. Many of those agents were concerned when Giacalone abruptly resigned in the middle of the investigation. FBI insiders said Giacalone used the term “sideways” to describe the direction the Clinton probe had taken in the bureau. Giacalone lamented privately he no longer had confidence in the direction the investigation was headed. He felt it was simpler to quietly step aside, walk away instead of fight to keep the investigation on its proper track. Giacalone was a true heavyweight agent at FBI. In fact, he likely should have been running the entire show. His pedigree included running and creating FBI divisions in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and even serving as deputy commander in the Iraqi theater of operations. But in the midst of the Clinton investigation, Giacalone handed the bureau his retirement papers in Feb.
In late 2015 through January 2016, Giacalone shared the frustration of many agents who were perturbed about one lingering issue: When was the FBI going to interview Hillary Clinton?
By June, that frustration had reached a boiling point, largely fueled by Giacalone’s resignation months earlier. Frustrated FBI personnel were beginning to question the pace of the case and believed their intelligence gathering and analysis were beyond strong enough for a referral to the Justice Department in early 2016, sources said. Agents were left to wonder if their dogged research would ever see public eyes. There was a fear creeping into the case that perhaps the investigation was being politicized, that FBI and DOJ brass were trying to run out the clock, or “slow-walk” the case, on what should be considered an easily warranted criminal indictment prior to November’s general election.
Suddenly, Giacalone’s retirement in Feb. was starting to make more sense to FBI grunts who didn’t have the seasoning and street smarts of the retired New Yorker to digest the landscape, months prior, of the probe’s downward trajectory
“The window here has almost closed,” a federal law enforcement source told True Pundit in June. “Clinton should have been interviewed months ago. There is no longer enough time to refer it to DOJ, vet the case with AUSA’s (Assistant US Attorney’s), the AG and her staff, prepare the case, call a Grand Jury, and put the case on.”
Officials in June reiterated that all those elements in the legal process, if expedited without delays or legal snags, would put a grand jury decision to indict in late September or October, just weeks before the election.
“Can you imagine the uproar if she was arrested weeks before the election?” a federal law enforcement source said. “There was a window we were shooting for and we could have made it but everything is so slow now. I mean, she hasn’t even been interviewed. It’s incredible.”
Agents, again, had been trying to interview Clinton since about Dec. 2015 but approval within the bureau has been often delayed, sources said. Agents said the case was running smooth under Giacalone but once he exited, strange things started happening. For starters, in early April Comey said he would personally interrogate Clinton in the coming days about her private server and email use. Days passed. Then weeks. Then months. Comey still had not interviewed Clinton or even allowed her to be interviewed by anyone in the FBI, despite numerous requests. Comey was quickly losing the trust of his frustrated subordinates.
Agents at first thought Comey was joking when he said he would personally interrogate Clinton, who at the time was locked in in a death match to win the Democratic nomination against Sen. Bernie Sanders. Then, when they realized Comey actually made these statements publicly, a wave of dismay quickly built among rank and file FBI.
“He doesn’t know the case well enough to interview witnesses or targets,” a FBI source said. “It makes no sense. It could ruin the case or any case.”
Clinton arrived with her legal entourage in tow. Attorneys David Kendall, Katherine Turner, Heather Samuelson, and Cheryl Mills flanked Clinton. On the government side of the conference room: FBI Section Chief Peter Strzok, David Laufman from the Justice Department, two unnamed DOJ representatives as well as the two confidential FBI agents conducting the interview.
Following the interview, word quickly spread through FBI circles that Mills was permitted to represent Clinton as part of her legal team during the session. Mills served as Clinton’s counsel and chief of staff at State. But some agents immediately thought news of her presence at the table had to be a simple mistake. There was little chance she could be allowed to sit in on an interview with the target of a criminal case, when Mills herself was a case witness and also considered a potential target. It made no sense.
“What the hell was she doing there and who allowed this?” a FBI source fumed.
What did it mean? To seasoned law enforcement agents, Mills’ presence meant the Big interview with Clinton was part of a dog-and-pony show for the media and American public. No legitimate FBI interview would allow another suspect in the same case to sit in on the supposed interrogation of another criminal target. Ever. Case agents realized they had been played. Their earlier fears about FBI brass tampering in the Clinton case were being quickly realized.
“This wasn’t a legitimate interrogation,“ a FBI source said. “It was more of a proffer passed off to the media as a tough criminal interview so the public would think she (Clinton) was being grilled.”
According to the FBI’s 302 report detailing her interview and the bureau’s general report of the email investigation, Clinton could not “recall” the answers to 27 different questions about her private email server and did not “remember” details of her emailing and classification habits at least another 12 times. But those were the numbers released just for public consumption. Agents said during the interview, Clinton didn’t remember details for dozens more questions and scenarios not detailed in the declassified 302. How do you cross examine someone with amnesia? Or purporting to have amnesia? You simply can’t. It was a frustrating exercise for agents and the team working the Clinton case. If nothing else, agents thought Clinton could perhaps provide bogus answers to some of the questions and perhaps set herself up for possible violations of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, making false claims to government agents, a felony charge which could perhaps be used as leverage after an indictment during a possible plea. That went out the window as well with the amnesia drama.
Moreover, once agents had access to the completed 302 report detailing what precisely went down during the Clinton interview, agents thought it might be missing pages or portions because it failed to contain key ingredients. There were not questions about the Clinton Foundation and what role it played in her setting up and employing her private server. There were no questions about Clinton’s emails and her aides’ thousands of emails to and from Clinton Foundation personnel. The FBI’s interview, Agents criticized, also never truly pressed Clinton with follow up to her answers. Agents and DOJ officials never presented her with contradictory evidence to counter her claims and statements. Clinton, they summarized, was given a free ride. Any other person would have been skewered for hours, or brought to tears, or simply muscled into contemplating a future plea. They had the dirt on her to do just that but chose to let her off easy, seemingly sensitive to her alleged medical woes. These tough questions were, again, off limits.
Plans to obtain Clinton’s medical records leaked up the chain of command and by Monday evening Comey issued a directive ultimately putting the cabash on what otherwise seemed like a smart investigative grab. No one in the FBI was permitted to obtain Clinton’s official medical records. No exceptions. The directive set off chaos within the bureau, especially on the heels of the fake criminal interview with Clinton just days earlier. This wasn’t the first time FBI brass had blocked agents from obtaining Clinton-related intelligence crucial to the probe. Now, it was a pattern. How were agents supposed to work the case to drill holes in Clinton’s interview defenses and tactics without confirming she had a severe head injury?
Since launching the site in June 2016, Paine and True Pundit have carved out a unique niche among the news grifters capitalizing on our conspiracy-laden, deeply polarized information environment. As New York magazine noted in a piece debunking two True Pundit stories, Paine is “fluent in the paranoid language of 2016 social media.” Paine combines the use of a pseudonym with almost exclusive use of anonymous sources to establish the persona of a deeply connected reporter with a vast network of FBI, law enforcement, and government sources. As with the Page story, he adds false or conspiracy-filled claims to real events or documents in order to create the impression of being rooted in fact. And the retweets, traffic, and supporters have rolled in.
The question of who’s behind True Pundit has itself become the source of wild theories. Viral #resistance tweeter Seth Abramson dedicated an 84-tweet thread to True Pundit and Paine. Abramson argued that True Pundit was being fed information by “a cadre of pro-Trump FBI agents and intel officers — some active, some retired — [who] conspired to swing the election to Trump.” (Another Twitter user investigated the account and concluded it’s a fake persona concocted by the Trump campaign’s social media team.)
My name is Michael Moore. No, not the Lib movie guy Michael Moore (Now you understand why I use a pseudonym) I have won numerous awards in journalism, including the Gerald Loeb Award in 1996. None of that much matters in the scope of things — or life in general — but being nominated for Pulitzer Prizes in your 20s is something I can tell my grandkids about. And the Loeb speaks for itself. A Certified Fraud Examiner too, I worked for Citi running its anti-money laundering Ops in three states. Until the FBI ruined that career.
But it is time for Thomas Paine to go public. The good guys don’t hide, as a Congressman told me this weekend. Especially after being terrorized by the FBI.
These are the times that try men’s souls, the real Thomas Paine penned. Especially when a dozen FBI agents are pointing high-powered rifles at my children during an early-morning search warrant raid.
My boys. Then eight and twelve. With M-4 carbine rifles pointed at their wet heads just before getting on the school bus. One slip of a finger and poof, they’re dead. My wife too. Courtesy of cowboys from the FBI.
BECAUSE as a contractor I knew too much. And I still know too much. And it is almost time to tell the world all about it. We are working on a book that will detail why the FBI turned on me. The reasons are hard to stomach but I am safer if all know. While the FBI was tossing my house and asking me dumb questions the wheels in my head were already years ahead of those chaotic moments. My wife and boys were in tears but I was already thinking how this could play out.
"They were working together so of course texted and called each other," a Columbus Nova spokesperson said in a statement. "This was all known and investigated, and wasn't even deemed worthy of being included in the special counsel's report.” Cohen told lawmakers earlier this year that he signed a $1 million contract — of which he only got about $416,000 — with Columbus Nova, whose largest client is Vekselberg’s Renova Group.
The plan was to “put together an infrastructure fund” that would be financed by overseas investors, Cohen testified. But he downplayed Vekselberg’s interest in the deal, telling Congress that the Russian oligarch was only a “minimal” investor in Columbus Nova when they started working together in January 2017.
Emails obtained by the FBI and described in the search warrant for the first time, however, show that Vekselberg met with Cohen and Intrater 11 days before Trump’s inauguration. At that gathering, the three discussed a lobbying group based in Moscow that promotes Russian business interests, called the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
And according to the court documents, Cohen also remained in touch with Vekselberg and scheduled a meeting with him in March 2017 at Renova headquarters — while Columbus Nova was still paying Cohen.
The meeting was of interest to lawmakers because Cohen had met in late January of that year with his longtime acquaintance Felix Sater and the Ukrainian lawmaker Andrei Artemenko to discuss a Russia-Ukraine “peace plan” that would involve lifting sanctions on Russia. The FBI wanted to know whether Vekselberg was paying Cohen to promote the sanctions-lifting plan, which would have benefited the Russian oligarch. Vekselberg has been doing business in the United States since at least 1990, when he co-founded the conglomerate Renova Group as a joint U.S.-Russian venture.
No evidence has emerged of such a quid-pro-quo, and Columbus Nova has denied participating in anything related to a Ukranian peace plan. But the FBI did reveal some new details about the episode in the search warrants unsealed on Wednesday.
According to phone records investigators reviewed, “a call was exchanged” between Cohen and soon-to-be White House national security adviser Michael Flynn on Jan. 11, 2017, just days before Trump's inauguration. A New York Times report said Cohen had delivered the sanctions-lifting plan to Flynn, but Cohen later told lawmakers that he threw the plan in the trash and never delivered it to the White House.
The FBI also found that Cohen continued speaking to Sater, a Russian-born businessman who helped Cohen negotiate a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the election, well after the peace plan meeting. Records they obtained showed approximately 20 calls exchanged between them from Jan. 5, 2017 to Feb. 20, 2017. Sater on Wednesday told POLITICO he couldn't remember the exact substance of the calls but said they likely had to do with the New York Times’ story about the “peace plan” meeting, which was published on Feb. 19.
The following morning, New Year’s Eve 2015, he sent Cohen an image of a letter from GenBank — not VTB Bank, as they had earlier discussed — inviting the men to Moscow for a visit.
Just nine days earlier, the US Treasury Department had sanctioned GenBank for operating in Crimea after the disputed Russian takeover. GenBank became the first Russian financial institution to move into the Crimean peninsula.
Sater told Cohen that GenBank operates “through Putin’s administration and nothing gets done there without approval from the top. The meetings in Moscow will be with ministers — in US, that’s cabinet-level and with Putin’s top administration people. This likely will include Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary. To discuss goals, meeting agenda and meeting time between Putin and Trump.”
Cohen was incensed. “First it was a government invite, then VTB and then some third-rate bank signed by a woman Panamarova with no title. It’s like being invited by Independence Savings Bank. Let me do this on my own. After almost two months of waiting you send me some bull# letter from a third-tier bank and you think I’m going to walk into the boss’s office and tell him I’m going there for this? Tell them no thank you and I will take it from here.”
Sater: “Michael a lot of work has been done and it’s not a third-rate anything.”
Cohen: “We’re done. Enough. I told you last week that you thinking you are running point on this is inaccurate. You are putting my job in jeopardy and making me look incompetent. I gave you two months and the best you send me is some bull# garbage invite by some no name clerk at a third-tier bank. So I am telling you enough as of right now. Enough! I will handle this myself.”
He added, “Do you think I’m a moron? Do not call or speak to another person regarding MY project.”
Sater has told investigators that during the first months of 2016, he and Cohen were using Dust, at Cohen’s suggestion, to communicate secretly about the Moscow project. Those messages, which were encrypted and are deleted automatically, have disappeared forever, Sater told BuzzFeed News. But on May 3, the day Trump won the Indiana primary and his top opponent Ted Cruz suspended his campaign, Sater sent Cohen an ordinary text message: “Should I dial you now?”
A hedge fund manager’s reputation, U.S. sanctions targeting human rights violations in Russia, and the truth about how Sergei Magnitsky, a tax lawyer caught up in a $230 million dispute, wound up dead. So the story goes in Andrei Nekrasov’s new documentary, “The Magnitsky Act” — a film that’s been pulled thrice by European theaters and broadcasters who bent to legal pressure from the man it seeks to expose as a fraud. Next Monday, the Russian-born Nekrasov will finally get his chance to premiere it at the Newseum, a journalism history museum in Washington. Nekrasov is showing it to a private audience whose invitees include congressional staffers, State Department employees, members of the White House National Security Council, and journalists. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh will moderate the screening.
Nekrasov told FP he set out to make a film based on Browder’s story that would be “a docu-drama praising Magnitsky.” Instead, he says close to two years of research led him to conclude that the conventional narrative was false. He said funding for the film came exclusively from mainstream western European organizations. Nekrasov’s film documents how he went from trusting Browder’s word to disbelieving it. The director says he began to doubt the hedge fund manager after reading the actual police reports in Russian. For example, Nekrasov argues that Magnitsky’s first contact with the police was not a voluntary act of whistleblowing, as Browder maintains, but a record of the police questioning him as a key witness in a tax evasion investigation.
Nekrasov told FP that his experience dealing with Browder “has been a bit depressing, to be frank.” “What I discovered is how easy it is — if you have a lot of money — to basically gag somebody,” Nekrasov said.
Movie director Andrei Nekrasov, a well-known Putin critic, wanted to film this story. But during the shooting he became increasingly doubtful: he realized that Magnitsky was not Browder’s lawyer, but his accountant, and that he was arrested not as a whistleblower, but as a suspect in the tax fraud allegedly organised by Browder himself. The final film traces this surprising turn of events. European TV channel ARTE, which had commissioned the original film, did no longer want to broadcast the final version. A screening at the European Parliament, on Press Freedom Day 2016, was cancelled at short notice, and a book on the case got censored by Amazon. In 2018, the film was eventually leaked. How did Magnitsky really die in Moscow prison, and where did the stolen tax money go? Through an aluminum-based poison by order of Browder, and partly into the election campaign of Hillary Clinton — the Putin government has claimed. Russian propaganda?