Back in May, the Trump Justice Department abruptly settled a multi-million dollar money laundering case with a major Russian real estate company, Prevezon.
Prevezon was accused of laundering $230 million dollars via tax fraud, but agreed to pay only $6 million to settle the case.
Sounds sort of cheap, right? $230 million in alleged tax fraud, and you get a fine of $6 million and are able to completely avoid even going to trial. That’s only 2.6 percent of the alleged amount of money that was laundered. Seems like a damn good deal to me.
The settlement didn’t initially attract a whole lot of attention until this week. That’s because, as i turns out, the lawyer who represented Prevezon was…wait for it…Natalia Veselnitskaya. Yes that Natalis Veselnitskaya, the same Russian lawyer who we learned this week met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton meant to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Trump Jr. claims that, to his disappointment, Veselnitskaya didn’t really have any good dirt to provide, but there’s no way we can really know if that’s true at this time.
Some house democrats put two and two together, and raised the issue in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a letter on Wednesday.
The letter reads in part: “Last summer, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney in an attempt to obtain information ‘that would incriminate Hillary’. Earlier this year, on May 12, 2017, the Department of Justice made an abrupt decision to settle a money laundering case being handled by that same attorney in the Southern District of New York. We write with some concern that the two events may be connected — and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts.”
You could argue that this is all circumstantial and that there’s no evidence as of yet that there was any quid pro quo. But nonetheless, in context of what we now know about Trump Jr.’s meeting, the settlement looks suspicious to say the least.
Veselnitskaya, who more or less lurked in the shadows behind the scenes until this week, is also really becoming a character of interest in this whole charade.
A picture has surfaced this week of her sitting in the front row of a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing about Russia on June 14, 2014.
How in the world did this obscure Russian attorney get a front seat? And why has she there anyway?
Former American Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted Wednesday in reference to the picture, “I’ve been told that COngressman Rohrabacher invited her to the hearing. Someone should confirm with his office. He also is anti-sanctions.”
Who is Rohrabacher? I had a story in May that you might remember called “Leaked Tape: Republican Said Putin Paying Trump in 2016.” On the leaked tape, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy says, “There’s…there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump…[laughter]…swear to God.”
This whole saga is just getting ridiculous, and while more questions are being raised right now than answers, the dealings of Veselnitskaya have got to raise some pretty major red flags.