In the same way that Republicans are complicit with Citizens United because it allows corporations to toss unlimited money at them, they are also complicit with Trump and his obvious Russian conflicts of interest because –as it turns out– many of them have had money thrown at them by the Russians themselves. Investigating Trump will, of course, follow the Russian money, and it turns out many a Republican has tell-tale signs of Russian dirt under the fingernails. It’s something most of us would have guessed given their show of complicity, but now we are beginning to get the proof and dollar amounts to back up that speculation.
As corrupt as American politics has become since Citizens United became one the worst things the Supreme Court ever did, it may be that our elected representatives took for granted that the source of cash contributions didn’t matter –even if it came from the Russians to influence our elections. Yet, as we’ve seen with the case of Michael Flynn, taking cash from foreign governments without permission can definitely have legal consequences..
The debate will continue about what really constitutes treason.
In an explosive report from The Dallas News entitled, “Tangled web connects Russian oligarch money to GOP campaigns,” we can begin to see how top-level Republicans may be more than complicit in Russia’s efforts to undermine democracy. They don’t want the American people finding how they too are incriminated. But now we know…
So what kind of money are we talking about and which Republicans received it?
“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,” wrote Ruth May.
It might not surprise anyone that Mitch McConnell got the most cash, given the Senate Majority Leader’s inability to do anything counter to Trump’s agenda. At one time it looked like he would resist, but as soon as Trump became president, that all changed…
Scott Dworkin, AM Joy contributor and co-founder of the Democratic Coalition, posted the numbers that clarify why McConnell’s resistance all-but-disappeared. (Sourced by Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org) See below:
“Doc: Mitch McConnell’s super PAC took $2.5 million in 2016 from billionaire who made his fortune in post-Soviet Russia”
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) July 27, 2017
Also named in the report:
Marco Rubio, who likes to straddle the line of complicit and keeping up appearances that he isn’t tied to Trump, received $1.5 million. He joins Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at $1.1 million, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at $800,000, Ohio Governor John Kasich at $250,000 and Arizona Senator John McCain at $200,000.
Now we can take a simplified look at where the money came from: One major source is Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonid “Len” Blavatnik. Blavatnik makes contributions to Republicans under the name of his holding companies. Interestingly, the address of his holding companies is across the street from Trump Tower in New York on 5th Avenue.
As Russian oligarchs almost certainly do, they can be traced back to Putin, the Alpha v̶a̶m̶p̶i̶r̶e̶ oligarch supreme, and to Alpha bank, and Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company mentioned in the Steel dossier. Ruth May traces Blavatnik to Oleg Deripaska. Blavatnik owns stock in the world’s second largest aluminum company, which is owned mostly by Deripaska. The Rusian government has its hands in the aluminum company, RUSAL, and Deripaska is higher up in the oligarch heirarchy. He’s part of the Russian clan called,”The Family,” and is connected to Putin through RUSAL and the Bank of Cyprus.
Deripaka is the guy who reportedly paid Trump’s one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort millions through the money-laundering Bank of Cyprus, that Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross once oversaw as vice-chairman. But Deripaka is also connected to Putin through Putin’s “pet bank,” Nesheconombank (VEB). The president of VEB, Sergey Gorkov, met with Trump’s son-in-law turned senior advisor, Jared Kushner. Kushner, of course, is now under investigation since he conveniently forgot to disclose this meeting, among others, such as the meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The Washington Journal elaborated further on Len Blavatnik’s close relationship to the Trump White House, noting his partnership with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to finance Hollywood films. They post a photo of a wire-transfer from Putin-controlled Rosneft Oil Company and link to an article by Forbes entitled, “The Four Horsemen Of Russia’s Economic Apocalypse,” that outlines in great detail how Len Blavatnik and three other oligarchs took part in the sale of Rosneft. That sale, a mega-energy merger, seems to have led to the collapse of Russia’s currency, leading to a recession and to a murky bond sale in December. Rosneft has yet to make significant disclosures on how much money was raised or who bond buyers were.
The sale of Rosneft, and where proceeds went, are a subject of the Steele dossier, which has continued to bear out as credible to this day, despite efforts of the right wing to discredit it.
When the collective ties to Russian money and Russian oligarchs are considered, it’s small wonder that the GOP appears not to be phased much (so far) by the investigations into Trump’s own probable corruption. The connections and the money exchanges have been so comprehensive that it simply overwhelms you trying to keep up with it all. We can only hope that Mueller’s investigations will make it clearer soon, and that democracy will somehow prevail in the face of so much ubiquitous corruption.
Featured image: McConnell from Gage Skidmore (CC BY 2.0)