Speaking of collusion

The synthetic Russian “collusion” scandal in which we have been enmeshed since the inauguration of President Trump is closely related to the real Russian collusion scandal involving the Clinton campaign. Underlying both is a media scandal of epic proportions. Exposing the interrelationship of these scandals — synthetic, real, and media (also real) — has been the more or less exclusive domain of Lee Smith. I urge interested readers to take the time necessary to absorb his devastating new Tablet column “Are NBC and CNN paying off top spies who leaked info with on-air jobs?”

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS “fuse” all three scandals. Here Lee comments on the Times’s recent report that the infamous Natalia Veselnitskaya was, shall we say, a close friend of Vladimir Putin and professional associate of — wait, Glenn Simpson. But the Times forgot that last part. “Here’s the story in full,” with the omitted parts filled in by Lee Smith:

A British music publicist arranged Veselnitskaya’s June 9, 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at the Trump Tower by promising dirt on Clinton. “If it’s what you say, I love it,” the president’s eldest son replied by email.

But Veselnitskaya had nothing on Clinton. She wanted to discuss the U.S. law imposing sanctions on Russian government officials and other figures close to Russian president Vladimir Putin who are implicated in the detention and death of Sergei Magnitsky. He was a Russian tax accountant hired in 2007 by the Chicago-born financier William Browder to investigate the misappropriation of $230 million in taxes that Browder’s firm had paid to the Russian government. Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 and was found dead a year later in a Moscow jail cell. The Magnitsky Act is the sanctions legislation that Browder spearheaded to punish those involved, and fire a shot across Putin’s bow.

In turn, Veselnitskaya was hired to represent a firm owned by Kremlin associates charged by the Justice Department with laundering some of the profits from the tax fraud that Magnitsky was investigating on behalf of Browder when he was arrested. Since the fraud case and the Magnitsky Act touch on Russian national interests, as well as Putin’s personal interests, it’s only natural the lawyer handling the case would be in close touch with the Kremlin’s top lawyer.

Yet the Times piece from last week barely touched on Magnitsky. His case, the story explains, “became a cause célèbre in Washington,”—in fact it gave rise to American legislation. The Times article didn’t mention Browder at all. Why? Because that would’ve widened the lens of a story that is tasked to show the Trump team’s ties to Kremlin affiliates, and raised some uncomfortable questions that undermine the governing narrative, which is that Trump colluded with Russia in order to steal the Presidency from Hillary Clinton.

More detail in the Times story would show that one of Veselnitskaya’s partners in the anti-Magnitsky campaign was Fusion GPS. Glenn Simpson’s opposition research shop had been brought on to run a smear campaign against Browder in the press. The talking points on Magnitsky and Browder that Veselnitskaya recited in the Trump Tower meeting, talking points that she previously shared with Russia’s prosecutor general, were quite literally written by Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS—that’s the same firm that was hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to produce the Steele dossier. So Fusion GPS disseminated reports of the Trump team’s ties to Russia in order to warn America of a possible criminal conspiracy that would sell out U.S. interests in exchange for help securing the presidency—while it also worked on a campaign defending Kremlin interests by undermining an American law. How, you ask, is that possible? And why didn’t the Times report that salient fact?

Because the Times was in bed with Fusion GPS too. William Browder told me that when he was trying to get various journalists to report on Fusion GPS’ role in the campaign against him and the Magnitsky Act, he found that the company’s founder Glenn Simpson “was so deeply embedded as a source for different stories, no one wanted to write a story about him.”

I urge interested readers to consume the whole devastating thing here.

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