In 2010, Bill Clinton went to Moscow for a question and answer session with Renaissance Capital. Renaissance is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. For his efforts, Clinton was compensated a cool $500,000 and received a personal thank you from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the same year, The Observer’s Mike Sainato reports, members of Congress were petitioning then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to block visas for Russian businessmen believed to be implicated in the death of Sergey Magnitsky in 2009. Among those who would be hurt by the act were members of Renaissance Capital.
In 2012, when the Magnitsky Act was finally brought to a vote, it was opposed by Hillary Clinton and the State Department. The Magnitsky Act is a US law punishing certain Russian nationals believed to be responsible for torturing and killing Magnitsky. Magnitsky accused corrupt officials of stealing $230 million from the firm where he was employed, Hermitage Capital, and was subsequently sent to prison on charges that he committed the crime he had exposed, where he died.
There’s been a host of speculation that Donald Trump Jr.’s ill-advised – but prima facie legal – meeting with Veselnitskaya was the smoking gun linking the Trump campaign with the Russian government. Veselnitskaya drew Junior in with shiny baubles like "compromising information about Mrs. Clinton." He took the bait; as "many people" would have, according to the Trump patriarch. Alas, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Veselnitskaya dangled information "allegedly about connections Hillary Clinton and the DNC had with Russians, but that tends not to be a major focus of the stories on this," said Dan Kovalik in an interview with Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker. Kovalik is labor rights attorney who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
"[Veselnitskaya] did successfully lobby, it appears, Hillary Clinton to oppose the sanctions” listed in the Magnitsky Act, Kovalik confirmed. “And this was just around the time that Bill Clinton had received $500,000 for a speech that he gave in Moscow. So this is all very interesting in terms of possible connections this individual had with the Clintons.”
During Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, her "research team" worked with major media news to silence America’s press lest the royal family be scrutinized about what some called Hillary’s abandonment of human rights in Russia and the stink of pay-to-play.
In an internal memo from May 21, 2015, Clinton campaign guru John Podesta wrote in emails published by WikiLeaks that "with the help of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to link HRC’s opposition to the Magnitsky bill to a $500,000 speech that WJC gave in Moscow."
It’s not clear what tactics were used to "kill" the story or why Bloomberg obliged the campaign’s request, or indeed why Podesta would be working media backchannels to cover up the story if there were nothing to cover up.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines collusion as "secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose." Lawfulness may not have been the issue here. But deceit? Uh, hello.
A spokesperson for the Clintons implicitly or inadvertently reconfirmed to The Observer the cover up again by saying Bill’s speaking money and Hillary’s position switch on the Magnitsky Act weren’t related in any way.
While $500,000 alone may not mean much to the wealthy Clinton family, the coordination of Bill’s speaking engagements and Hillary’s positions point again to a pay-to-play Clinton State Department, or at least a clear conflict of interest.
Correlation, of course, doesn’t prove causation, and lobbying and advocacy is standard between foreign governments, businesses petitioning the government and so forth. But once again, US media brush aside the potentially criminal half-a-million dollar coincidence when it crops up within the favoured family.
"Public office is a public trust, and any effort to realize personal gain though official conduct is a violation of that trust," according to the District of Columbia’s legal definition of conflicts of interest.
Veselnitskaya also shopped her case around to reporters, including many who spoke to The Hill about the issue. Matthew Taibbi of Rolling Stone described accepting a meeting with someone described as a "colleague" of Veselnitskaya. "I went into the meeting expecting a scoop on another topic, and instead found myself essentially being lobbied about the Magnitsky Act," Taibbi reported Friday.