As the media circus concerning the actions of President Trump, his cabinet, and connections to Russia unfold, many people are questioning the significance of one key factor: namely, Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer, which supposedly resulted in a discussion about Russian orphans.
What exactly do these Russian orphans have to do with any of the politics going on right now?
Although the idea of Russian orphans may seem completely unrelated, when you connect the dots, the story creates a real-life thriller so complex that it would seem as if Steig Larsson has been writing our reality! I assure you that while everything may seem incredible, sometimes real life is far stranger than fiction.
How Did We Get to Talks about Russian Orphans?
In some of the latest developments concerning investigations into Russia and their involvement with the 2016 election and our current presidency, news has come out that Donald Trump Jr., along with Paul Manafort, (President Trump’s campaign chairman during the election), and Jared Kushner, (President Trump’s son-in-law), all attended a private meeting at Trump Towers with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
According to the Washington Post, as well as other reliable media sources, the meeting between Trump Jr., his associates, and the Russian lawyer were set up via email through a third-party, Rob Goldstone, who has known connections to Russia.
In a nutshell, the emails implicated that Goldstone’s Russian connections had illegally obtained information about Hillary Clinton that would damage her reputation during the 2016 election. Trump Jr. clearly acknowledged that he wanted to acquire this information, which led to the meeting.
Since being questioned about that meeting, Trump Jr. first denied it, then later admitted to everything and claimed that the meeting had completely slipped his mind, since it was only 20 minutes and not much was discussed. He claimed that all that was discussed was Russian orphans.
As of August 1, 2017, allegations are being made that Trump Jr.’s statement about what occurred during the meeting may have been “dictated” by President Trump, according to both the Washington Post and the BBC . If President Trump was involved with creating his son’s statements, many have already surmised that such suspicious activity on top of everything else could lead to impeachment trials.
Okay – But What about the Russian Orphans?
The idea of Trump Jr. and his colleagues talking to some Russian lawyer about orphans seems bizarre in and of itself. How do you get from emails offering condemning material about Hillary Clinton to a 20 minute conversation about Russian orphans?
To understand this strange twist, you need to know about Bill Browder and The Magnitsky Act.
On July 25, 2017, Bill Browder released to The Atlantic his remarks on his upcoming hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The hearing, which took place on July 26th, can be viewed here .
In case you aren’t aware, Browder is a financier and the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was one of the biggest firms advising Russia on investments prior to Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in Russia.
You can read Browder’s full remarks from The Atlantic article here . While I encourage everyone to read his story, it is a long piece, so I have prepared take away points to summarize:
- Before Putin came to power, corrupt oligarchs were in power in Russia.
- Browder was trying to expose the corruption, as was Putin.
- While Browder and Putin were not friends, they had mutual goals.
- Putin eliminated his competition and became the President.
- Browder alleges that Putin came into power by eliminating the oligarchs and stealing $230 million.
- Browder was trying to prove that Putin had stolen the money.
- As a result of his investigations, Browder was kicked out of Russia.
- Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was acting as Browder’s man on the ground to find out information about the corruption and to put pressure on the Kremlin.
- Magnitsky was forcibly taken into custody by Putin’s regime in November 2008.
- Magnitsky was detained (imprisoned) for almost a year.
- During that time, he was tortured, deprived of sleep, starved, beaten, and received little to no medical care.
- Magnitsky was told that if he signed documentation stating that he had stolen the money on Browder’s behalf, he would be set free.
- Magnitsky refused to perjure himself and never signed any such documents, which is why the torture lasted for so long.
- During his detainment, Magnitsky filed almost daily complaints with the Russian governments through his lawyer, documenting the whole sordid affair.
- Magnitsky died in a detention facility in 2009 directly as a result of being beaten and receiving no medical attention.
- No one was punished for this gross injustice!!!
- Browder took it upon himself to do what he could to seek justice for Magnitsky.
- While Putin could protect his followers in Russia, Browder knew that most of Putin’s money and the money of his underlings were in the West.
- Browder knew he needed to hit them where it would hurt, their wallets.
- Browder presented his findings and information about what happened to Magnitsky to government committees all around the world.
- In 2012, The Magnitsky Act was signed into law in America.
Alex Horton provided a thorough explanation of The Magnitsky Act in this article from The Washington Post. In the article, Horton summarized the effects of the law as follows:
“The Magnitsky Act was signed by President Barack Obama in December 2012 as a retaliation against the human rights abuses suffered by Magnitsky. The law at first blocked 18 Russian government officials and businessmen from entering the United States, froze any assets held by U.S. banks and banned their future use of U.S. banking systems. The act was expanded in 2016, and now sanctions apply to 44 suspected human rights abusers worldwide.”
The government officials described above were those who had helped Putin rise to power, and who Putin was protecting. Before the act was signed into law, Browder implied that Putin’s protection also gave these government officials small fortunes. By implementing The Magnitsky Act, the government officials would no longer be able to access these fortunes promised to them by Putin, thus reducing his power and his support.
Browder has acknowledged that he feels more should be done to punish those responsible for what happened to Magnitsky, but given the levels of corruption in Russia, Browder also realized that creating the law was his only course of action to get some form of justice for his fallen friend.
Still Wondering about the Russian Orphans?
Okay – we’re really at the part about the orphans. (Thanks for sticking with me!)
In Browder’s statement in The Atlantic, he makes the following comment concerning what happened after The Magnitsky Act went into effect:
“Putin was furious. Looking for ways to retaliate against American interests, he settled on the most sadistic and evil option of all: banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American families.” (Browder)
Starting to connect the dots, yet? Let me help you make a few more connections.
After The Magnitsky Act was signed into law, Putin was in a difficult spot. Especially since information exposed in the Panama Papers, according to Browder, could implicate Putin and make him subject to The Magnitsky Act himself, which would freeze an immense amount of his fortunes. Therefore, Putin used his fortune, his political influence, and the Russian government to try to have the act repealed.
The Russian government and their associates have tried discrediting Browder’s story, and they have been lobbying for support in the U.S. to repeal the law. All of their attempts have proven fruitless thus far, according to Browder.
The group of Russians who were trying to repeal the act here in the U.S. were working on behalf of two Russian government officials, Denis and Pyotr Katsyv, a father and son team. Their lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, proved a major force in their lobbying efforts.
Does her name look familiar?
That’s because Veselnitskaya is THE SAME LAWYER who had the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.!!!!
“Russian Orphans” as Possible Code for Talks of Dismantling The Magnitsky Act
The 20 minute conversation about Russian orphans, in my own personal opinion, was probably a discussion about what would be expected of Trump Jr. and his father, should they accept potential assistance from Russia.
In my imaginings of the meeting, I picture the lawyer explaining or implying that if Trump came into power, particularly as a result of whatever incriminating information about Hillary Clinton was being offered to Trump Jr., as described in his emails, and should Trump gain the presidency, he would be expected to repeal this act and the sanctions connected to it.
While I do not know for a fact if my opinion and analysis described in the above paragraph is accurate, the players involved and the presented evidence do make one suspicious of everyone’s intentions.
After all, why would a lawyer who’s been working for the people lobbying for the repeal of the act suddenly be talking to Trump Jr. about Russian orphans? And, if the meeting between Trump Jr. and the lawyer was set up under the belief that Trump Jr. would be receiving damning documents about Clinton, why else would the lawyer bring up the topic of Russian orphans if she did not hope to lobby for the support of the Trumps in dismantling the act?