Skip to main content

tv   William Browder Overturning Magnitsky Act is Putins Top Priority  CSPAN  July 28, 2017 12:31am-2:19am EDT

12:31 am
12:32 am
>> i am disappointed that the two hour rule was invoked to shut down this hearing. mr. browder traveled here to testify about the efforts to manipulate our government and media. this is an important topic to discuss. if the other party is truly serious about getting to the bottom of russian interference, they should hear him out. forbrowder, thank you changing your travel plans to be here. this committee appreciates your willingness to stay.
12:33 am
i am going to introduce items into the record. the first is a statement by the president of the human rights foundation. he alleges that he and others uncovered a corruption scheme any foreign company. he claims that the foreign company hired fusion gps which created dossiers containing false information to smear the whistleblower is involved, planted slanderous news items and intimidated journalists reporting on of the corruption scheme. the second item, is an article by lee smith titled "fusion gps illustrates the brave new of manufactured news for hire." the third item is an article in the new york times titled "soviet veteran who met with trump jr. is a master of dark arts." it describes the activities of
12:34 am
the russian lobbyist named in the foreign agents registration act complaint. so, without objection, those will be included in the record in the record. i would like to introduce in the record senator crapo, who has a constituent who would like to submit written testimony about his experience with fusion gps for the record. without objection, he may do so within one week from today. i also want to insert a letter from the airline pilots association, alleging that the u.s. travel association has not properly registered under fara. that letter alleges that the association engaged in political activities on behalf of foreign state-owned airlines in the middle east.
12:35 am
so, without objection, i would do that, now, let the ranking member make any statements she has, then i will introduce and square our witness. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. today our committee continues its examination of the fara act. we heard from representatives in the justice department and the fbi along with doj's inspector general. that discussion, i believe, confirmed that there is a significant problem with under enforcement of the law. individuals who lobby and engage in political activities on behalf of foreign governments, and interests in the united states, do not register in a way that works with the justice department. this is because right now, there are no real consequences for
12:36 am
failing to register. i think we should change that. as we also heard yesterday, the justice department relies heavily on finding out about potential violations by monitoring press reports and other public information. at times the department receives complaints alleging that individuals and companies have failed to register their lobbying and other political activities on the health of foreign interests. today we will hear from one such individual -- william browder. i do not know mr. browder, but it is my understanding that in july 2016, he filed a fara complaint alleging that a number of individuals failed to register their russian backed lobbying efforts against the magnitsky act. among those names in mr. browder's campaign is the russian lawyer, natalia
12:37 am
veselnitskaya . as we all kow, who met with the trump campaign in june 2016 with the understanding that she would offer incriminating information into hillary clinton. the campaign's opponent in the presidential election. it is my understanding that mr. browder is very familiar with the lawyer, and another russian figure who attended the june 9 meeting, because of their work to oppose the magnitsky act. his experience with these specific individuals and his broader understanding of how the russian government operates, may well advance the committee's understanding of what motivated that meeting.
12:38 am
at least i hope it will. so i look forward to hearing from our witness today and with that i yield back. >> thank you, i will first introduce mr. browder, ceo of hermitage capital, an investment firm based in london. in 2007, russian officials and members of organized crime engaged in corporate identity theft, stole the corporate identity of three hermitage companies and used them fraudulently, obtaining $230 million. hermitage filed a criminal complaint with russian law enforcement and in response to russian government -- the russian government assigned the case to the very russian officials involved in the crime. mr. magnitsky, mr. browder's lawyer, uncovered the fraud and was eventually jailed and died under very suspicious circumstances. mr. browder worked with the u.s. congress to pass the magnitsky act to punish the officials
12:39 am
involved with this and other human rights abuses. would you please stand serve, and -- do you swear -- let me start again. do you confirm that the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you, i would like to have you take several minutes, if you can -- we would like to save time for questions. so let's say, seven to eight minutes. >> chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein, and the committee, thank you for giving me this opportunity to tell my story about the russian campaign -- the vladimir putin campaign to repeal the magnitsky act in washington dc. i am william browder, founder and ceo of hermitage capital management, once the largest foreign investment advisor in
12:40 am
russia. in that capacity we discovered massive corruption, in the companies that we invested in, to fight the corruption. we started researching how they went about -- how the oligarchs went about the stealing and shared that research with the international media. this naming and shaming campaign, had some positive effects on the share price of the company and it also made russia a better place for for some period of time. but you can imagine, exposing millions of dollars in malfeasance upset the people benefiting from it. these people had very close connections with the putin regime. in november 2005, i was expelled
12:41 am
from the country and declared a threat to national security in response to my anticorruption activities. in june of 2007, might moscow office was raided by 25 officers from the moscow interior ministry, and 25 more officers raided the office of my american law firm. in those rates, they thought to get the stamped seal certificates of our holding companies and with those stamp-sealed certificates they were able to initiate corporate identity theft. i hired a young man named sergeiy magnitsky who was 35 years old, as my lawyer to investigate who did what and how we could stop them. he investigated and came back with an outstanding conclusion, which was that the purpose of stealing our companies was to try to steal our assets which they did not succeed in doing. however, they did succeed in stealing millions of dollars in
12:42 am
taxes that we paid to the russian government from the russian government. i should point out that the theft was not of my money or my firm's money but the russian government's money. $230 million, the largest tax refund fraud in the history of russia. sergeiy and i were both convinced that putin would not have allowed his own officials to steal from his own country.
12:43 am
we figured that if we brought it to the attention of the highest authorities in russia, then the good guys would get the bad guys and that would be the end of the story. we wrote criminal complaints to every branch of the russian criminal justice system. i went to the newspapers and sergey gave testimony to the russian state investigative committee which is known as their fbi. we waited for the good guys to get the bad guys. it turned out that in putin's russia there are no good guys. on november 24, 2008, a few weeks after magnitsky testified before officials, some of the same officials he testified before arrested him and put him in pretrial detention where he was then tortured to get him to withdraw his testimony. they put him with cells with 14 inmates and eight beds, left the lights on 24 hours a day to impose sleep deprivation. they put him in cells with no heat, no windowpanes in december, in moscow. he almost froze to death. they put him in a cell with no toilet, just a hole in the floor. so sewage would bubble up. they moved him from cell to cell in the middle of the night, hoping to get them to withdraw his testimony and get them to sign a sign confession that he stole the $230 million under my instructions. he refused to do that.
12:44 am
the pressure increased and after six months, his health deteriorated where he developed terrible pains to his stomach, lost 40 pounds and was diagnosed with pancreatitis and gallstones. he was scheduled for an operation in august 2009. a week before his operation, they promptly moved him to a maximum security prison -- butyrka, considered to be one of the most awful prisons in russia. most significantly for magnitsky, there were no medical facilities there. his health deteriorated and he went to constant agonizing pain from his pancreatitis. they refused him medical treatment. he and his lawyers wrote 20 different medical requests and all of them were either ignored or in some cases denied in writing. after a couple of months of this horrible torture, sergeii's body
12:45 am
could no longer hold out. on the night of november 16, he went into critical condition. on that night, the prison authorities did not want responsibility for him, so they put him in an ambulance and sent them to a prison with medical facilities. when he arrived in that prison, instead of putting him in the emergency room, they put him in an isolation cell change to a bed. he was being by guards with rubber but don't -- batons until he died. he was 37 years old. he left a wife, and two children. i got the news of his murder this morning -- the morning of the 17th and i have made it my life's work since then to get justice for sergei magnitsky. unfortunately, justice is impossible to get in russia, they circled the wagons and exonerated everyone involved, the people who were most
12:46 am
implicit. so, i searched for justice outside of russia, coming here to washington. i spoke to senator john mccain, telling them the same story that i shared with you today. they came up with the magnitsky act to freeze assets and then visas of the people who killed him and people who commit other similar human rights abuses in russia. the act passed, 92-4 in the senate. in december 2012. as well as the house. president putin was absolutely infuriated by this. he then in retaliation, banned the adoption of russian orphans by american families. that man -- that -- the reason he took such a drastic step was that he was one of the beneficiaries of the 230 million dollar fraud. we have traced some of that money to an account of a man named -- sergei roldugin, who was implicated in the panama papers as being one of his nominees. they put magnitsky on trial three years after they killed
12:47 am
him and put me on trial as a codefendant. in addition to that, a number of people having killed -- have been killed in connection with the case. seven people have died, either from murder or suspicious circumstances as well as a number of attempted murders. for example, boris nemtsov, one of our allies in fighting for justice for magnitsky, in coming to the european parliament and lobbying for the magnitsky act and was murdered in front of the kremlin in 2015. his protege, vladimir kara-murza, was poisoned to within an inch of his life. he went into organ failure and barely survived.
12:48 am
the magnitsky family lawyer, nikolai gorokhov, was thrown off the fourth-floor balcony right before he was going to testify in court about this. i have had numerous threats from up and down the russian government about my life. it is not just death threats, or not just violence that the russian government does, it also political violence. the political violence came in the form of a massive campaign that the russian government via the lawyer-natalya vesilnitskaya launched here in washington. she organized individuals to come here in washington and lobby, basically tell the story -- a false story that magnitsky was not murdered, and he wasn't a whistleblower, so that they could have the magnitsky act repealed.
12:49 am
she engaged with chris cooper from potomac strategies, ron dellums and a number of other people with the purpose of withdrawing the magnitsky act and withdrawing magnitsky chekov name from the acts. in addition to it being effectively a campaign to effectively cover up a murder, it was also -- >> can you say the year that she came into this? >> the question is, you can still finish her statement, that now, -- >> yes, thank you. >> we not going to stop you. >> when the lawyer came to this country, what year was that? >> i believe she came here in 2014. >> continue. >> sorry that i went over, i am just about done. browder: in addition to these -- this being morally
12:50 am
reprehensible, none of these people registered as foreign agents under the foreign agents registration act. so, i put together -- my firm put together a complaint to the department of justice where we listed what they did, who did what, and the fact that they were not registered as foreign agents. we felt that in july 2016, and i am here today to tell the story, clarify any details, because i believe that the fact that these people were allowed to run around on clinton's agenda, without any -- on putin's agenda, is something that is to be stopped in the future and i think the rules governing this should be strengthened. thank you very much. >> thank you for the testimony, yesterday we announced that we would have seven minute rounds of discussion, but we cut that
12:51 am
down to five because of the two hour rule. so each of you will have seven minutes. mr. browder, in your written statement you said that the lawyer who met with trump campaign officials had hired glen simpson of fusion gps to compute -- conduct a smear campaign against you and magnitsky. you said that he contacted a number of newspapers to spread false information. mr. simpson told the media that he only did some research as litigation support. propaganda and publicity work for a foreign principal requires legislation as a foreign agent. so it is important to understand whether mr. simpson was pushing negative information about you in the media.
12:52 am
i have several questions along this line. could you explain exactly how mr. simpson manipulated the media just near you and undermine the magnitsky act, and how you know about that?browder: glenn simpson was calling a number of journalists, ditching a story to the journalists as the magnitsky act was being debated in congress to rid the story he was pitching, was that magnitsky had not been murdered. that he died of natural courses, and magnitsky was not a whistleblower, he was a criminal. that the story i had told the u.s. congress, was incorrect about magnitsky and therefore should be repealed. that was the story he was pitching. i know because he was -- a number of journalists pitched by him, came to me and asked me about it. he was unsuccessful for the most part in getting the story written, but it does not take away from the fact that he was trying to get the story published. that is not litigation support, it is impossible for me to see how it could be litigation
12:53 am
support because had those stories been written, during the litigation that he was supposedly supporting, any juror reading those stories would've been disqualified from being on the jury. so, that could only have been the purpose of manipulating and trying to change the legislation here in washington. grassley: your testimony to not -- today outlined a multi-pronged effort, do you think these agents were working together in a coordinated campaign or were these separate and isolated efforts, and how do you know jacob -- jago --? and how do you know about fusion gps's efforts -- how are you aware that they were in the interests of the putin government? browder: to answer your first question, this entire effort was under the auspices of the lawyer who was organizing it.
12:54 am
it was paid for by her client, which was the katsev family in russia. the patriarch of the family there, is a senior government official in russia, former transport minister of the moscow region. he is currently vice president of russian railways, the second-most important date company after gaffe from --gazprom. could you repeat the second part of your question? grassley: what basis do you have a believing that gps's efforts were on behalf of the russian government other than in the interest of the company's holdings? browder: the work that fusion gps was doing to repealed the magnitsky act could not have had any benefit to the holding company because the company was under investigation by the department of justice for us
12:55 am
pacific money laundering statute. even if they had been successful in repealing the magnitsky act, a one and a million shot, even if they had been successfully would not have had any bearing on the case against them in justice. it is hard to see how that would have been opposing the legislation. grassley: there have been media reports alleging that some of the stolen magnitsky money went to a russian investment bank firm called renaissance part -- capital. what can you tell us about that and what is the company's connection if any, to the russian government? browder: it is a russian investment bank headed by -- at the time of this crime, by a man named stephen jenin's -- jennings, a man from new zealand who lives in london. he was a dust and other official
12:56 am
was a british citizen of russian origin, and at the staff of renaissance capital, they trumpeted the fact that they had a number of former fsb officers and their staff. i should point out there is no such thing as a former office the officer, it is a lifetime commitment. they determined that $13 million from the crime that are gay magnet the uncovered, x does, and was killed over went to bank accounts at renaissance capital in the united kingdom. >> i think you said this, but let me make sure, about renaissance capital connection if any with the russian government. browder: it is connected to the russian government through act-ff the --ex-fsb employees at renaissance capital. grassley: this is important, the same bank, renaissance capital a bill clinton 500,000 for a june
12:57 am
2010 speech in moscow. the same month, they began the application process for a russian government owned company to acquire u.s. uranium assets. the review of this takeover was done by the committee of foreign investments and secretary clinton's state department was one of the approval authorities. renaissance capital reportedly assigned a buy-rating to them. my last question, you can take what time you need to answer -- did you meet with anyone from the justice department when you filed your fara complaint in 2016? if so, who initiated the meeting, who -- you or them? did they ever follow-up with you on the information you provided in your complaint? or did they let you know whether they had acted on your complaint?
12:58 am
browder: i had to contents with -- i had two contacts with the justice department. one of them was an in person meeting here in washington to follow up with the complaint. in both instances the was initiated by my firm, and other than providing information, i have no knowledge of what happened afterwards. grassley: senator feinstein. feinstein: thank you very much. you are a very brave man, and i respect that and your loyalty to mr. magnitsky. having said that, mr. browder, it is hard for me to understand why the magnitsky act still sticks in the crawl of russia -- craw of russia. and what the lawyer would have
12:59 am
to do with that. that is not going to be reversed. it was no chance. it seems to me that the foot and government would understand that. so, what is the nature of that feeling -- obsession, whatever you want to call it? browder: i believe there are two reasons why this is vladimir putin's single most important foreign policy priority. the first reason, is that we have evidence that he is -- his nominee, sergeii verdugin received some of the proceeds of the clot -- crime. feinstein: the crime being what they took from your office? browder: yes, some of that $230 million. vladimir putin, i believe him to be the richest person in the world, i believe him to be worth 200 billion dollars. money held all over. his regime has been come --
1:00 am
committing crimes to get that money so he does not want to lose it by having it frozen. he is personally at risk due to the magnitsky act. it is a personal issue, which is why he is so upset. in order to get that $200 billion, he has had to ask lloyd more than 10 people working for him -- he has had to force people working for him -- torture, kill, take people's property away, to get that money for him. and the only way to get them to do these terrible things, is to say -- if you do them, there will be no consequence. you will enjoy impunity. as a result of the magnitsky
1:01 am
act, he can no longer guarantee impunity, because we have created consequences in the west. i will not understate because the magnitsky act, not only does it frees the assets held in america, but you also get blood on the treasury sanctions list, and no bank in the world was to be in violation of treasury actions. so, any bank, whether it is in south korea or dubai, if your name is on the list they close your account on that day and you become a financial pariah. feinstein: where in your interview does the lawyer, come into this? she is a lawyer of the katsiv family which is a company that was identified as having
1:02 am
received some of the fraud amount of $230 million. they had to defend themselves in they came with natalia veselnitskaya to coordinate their communities and she became the point person for the russian government in america to fight the money laundering charges, and to fight the magnitsky act. i should point out that in fighting the money laundering charges, the company prednisone -- spent millions of dollars in legal fees to save $13 million or $14 million that has been frozen by the department of justice. the incentive to spend that money goes well beyond their personal interest. feinstein: she was present on this meeting in june 9. what interests do you believe she had in the meeting and what goal did she want to achieve? mr. browder: it is clear that
1:03 am
the interests and goals in that meeting was to repeal the magnitsky act. she has said it, and it has been said by people who attended the meeting. that is one thing we can conclude with certainty. feinstein: you believe or have any evidence or knowledge that this was a quid pro quo on behalf of vladimir putin, that if there was a repeal of the magnitsky act he would do these things? mr. browder: i do not have evidence or direction knowledge, however i know how the russian government behaves, and the russian security services. this was a big ask, ask the possible future president of the united states to repeal the legislation. they would not have gone there without having something to offer in return. what they were willing to offer in return, i do not know. whether the offer made any sense to the other side, i do not know.
1:04 am
i do know that the kgb, the fsb, the security services would have studied the targets and really worked on the offer that they were providing. feinstein: has she ever worked directly for the russian government? mr. browder: yes she has. feinstein: when and where? mr. browder: she has worked for the fsb, the successor organization to the kgb in the moscow region. i do not have the exact date. feinstein: thank you. grassley: let me say, that it would be on our side -- senator graham, and on the democrat side, it will be senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the senator for allowing me to go next.
1:05 am
you cannot repeal a law in the united states if the congress objects. it is really incredible that mr. putin would think that by talking to the son of the candidate running for president that he would be able to repeal the act. i assure you, mr. browder, that there was no way that congress would agree to repeal the act. i personally experienced a very minor indication of president putin's anger in congress and those of us who passed the act. while traveling with my family, and trying to go through passport control in st. petersburg a couple of years ago. my wife and daughter made it through, and i did not. i have no doubt that this is personal to mr. vladimir putin
1:06 am
, and he is trying to lash out at those who participated in passing it. i am proud that we passed it. it is hard to distinguish between purely commercial enterprises and government in many places around the world, for example gazprom and others are owned by the russian government. many countries around the world, where you have monarchies and autocratic governments, in places like china where the communist party basically embedded in every -- otherwise appearing commercial enterprise -- it is impossible to separate the two. in russia, as you point out, there are 100 billionaires who own about a third of the country's wealth. it is really impossible. you do not become wealthy in russia without being directly tied to the russian government. many of these oligarchs have branched out of russia and began
1:07 am
to buy western companies and commercial interests, including press and media outlets, sports clubs, manufacturing companies, financial institutions, and technology companies. and then of course, these companies come to congress and try to lobby us on behalf of these industries without the knowledge that they are actually representing nationstates adverse to the interests of the american people. should we be concerned -- be more concerned that we have -- then we have been to this point not just with russian meddling in our elections, but with foreign countries around the world with interests adverse to the united states, using these so-called commercial enterprises which are nothing that a front for a country and a nationstate -- should we be more concerned than we have been about the domestic and foreign policy in the united states? mr. browder: absolutely.
1:08 am
you have really brought up a important point, especially when it relates to russia or any autocratic regime. in an autocracy like russia and other countries, the way that the world works is that the president of that country allows certain people to get rich, and gets a share of the wealth. then he can rely on those people to get the states bidding -- to do the estate's bidding. where that may not be appropriate or they may not want to show the government's face. russia uses a system like that and there is documentary evidence of people who have gotten rich through vladimir putin who have then done lots of foreign policy work, not just in america but also all over the world.
1:09 am
in order to further putin's agenda, which is adverse to decency and democracy and liberal thought. so, yes. >> we are obviously an open and free society. and some of them take advantage of that, sometimes unbeknownst to us. do you think that these commercial entities, acting for national enterprises, and people like vladimir putin should be forced to register under the fara act and lobbyist disclosure act? mr. browder: i think it is absolutely essential that they do. essential that there is transparency about who these people are talking to and what their interests are. i think -- the issue -- we have a free society, free press, democracy, open ideas, first amendment and etc. -- they are taking advantage of that. the only way we can keep our free society is having absolute heresy. -- absolute transparency. if everyone knows who it is that is doing the talking, we can calibrate whether that person is
1:10 am
credible or whether their interests should be taken into the account -- if they are operating on the basis of an adversary. >> including when people come to lobby congress, we need to know know who they are working for, right? mr. browder: absolutely. >> is it possible to achieve the status in russia, and be beyond putin's reach? mr. browder: no, i was someone who tried to be totally independent and transparent, and -- >> they ran you off. they tried to kill me off and steal all of my money. >> that is the consequence. you mentioned that russian agents -- in your opinion, how large is a community of u.s.
1:11 am
, have high enablers is interested in avoiding fair regulation? mr. browder: i would imagine that there is probably a big majority of the lobbyist in washington who would be glad to take the money from russia. i don't know how many of them would be happy to not register as foreign agents, but there is a big community of enablers and people wanting to get the business of being an enabler for russia. i have seen a lot of that here in washington. >> while we are focused on russia today, this same means can be used by any other country whose interests are not in line with the united states government? browder: that is correct. there does not seem to be any consequence for not registering as a foreign agent and it seems to me that that is the problem. >> thank you for your courage, mr. browder. mr. browder: thank you.
1:12 am
grassley: sometime, if you ask me, senator whitehurst, if you ask me i will tell you why i call you that. there is a famous whistleblower that was an fbi agent that exposed a lot of wrong going on at the fbi, i protected him and he got fired as every whistleblower does. he sued the fbi and got a million dollars for his work. we got a new $40,000 lab down at the marine station to do the right work that the fbi was supposed to do. >> i offer to represent senator whitehouse. >> i am glad to hear it is a positive association. >> i wanted to say a couple quick things before i ask my questions. first, i believe corruption is a
1:13 am
world plague, not a local phenomenon. you may have done more to fight corruption worldwide than any other individual and i appreciate it. senator grassley and i have a piece of legislation that would require corporation transparency so that the united states does not become the sanctuary for international criminals and kleptocrats. we welcome the support of any other committee members who are concerned about these commercial entities that are fronting for other folks. third, while the president is highly unlikely to be able to undo the magnitsky act, i do believe that there is in the power of the president to remove people off the list. natalia veselnitskaya
1:14 am
approach to the trumps, had a potential goal within reach, that did not require undoing the magnitsky act. indeed, we are looking at trying to close off an opportunity so that there is not a executive backdoor to delisting people from the list. so, can you give a capsule description of what the relationship between putin is and his oligarchs, such that the threat of sanctions to oligarchs is a threat to putin? browder: that is an excellent question. when vladimir putin was originally fighting with the oligarchs when he first came into power, because they were stealing power from him. in order to regain the power of the presidency, in 2003, he arrested the richest oligarch in the country, a man named mikhail
1:15 am
khordokovsky and put him on trial. when you go on trial in moscow, there is a 99% conviction rate. they put you in a cage, because there is no presumption of innocence. they had him sit in a cage and allowed television cameras filming the richest man in russia sitting in a cage. imagine if you are the 17th richest man in russia and you saw that, what would be your reaction? you would not want to sit in a cage. so, after he was convicted, they went -- these oligarchs went to president putin and said -- what do we have to do not to sit in the cage? he said -- 50%. not 50% for the government of russia, but 50% for vladimir putin. so he became the richest man in the world in that moment. >> the oligarch network is
1:16 am
feeding him money and doing his political adding and therefore -- political bidding so he wants to ensure that they can be able to travel and spend and save and invest in the legitimate world. mr. browder: they hold his money for him. so, if you want to get vladimir putin -- sanction the top oligarchs as well. >> over and over again, when the white house issued a statement about the young donald trump's meeting, they discussed the meeting with natalia veselnitskaya being about the adoption of russian children. conversation was primarily about adoption, then later on talked about a conversation about a discussion of adoption. when the president interviewed with the new york times he said it was about adoption. when the president's son-in-law, kushner, in july 24, in a
1:17 am
committee statement said he was talking about an issue of the ban of u.s. adoptions of russian children. so, to a russian official, a conversation with an america about adoption, is a conversation really about what? mr. browder: about the magnitsky act. >> in turn? vladimir putin retaliated by banning the adoption of orphans. >> if you're talking about adoption -- mr. browder: nobody was talking about adoption. they were talking about the repeal of sanctions so that russian torturers and murderers could freely travel and keep their money in america. >> adoption is, in effect, code for russians for talking about lifting of sanctions. mr. browder: that is correct. >> is there no reason anybody in
1:18 am
the president's circle would not -- should know that? mr. browder: i do not know for sure. >> do you imagine that they would not know that? mr. browder: i can say for certainty that nobody was talking about adoption. >> got it. you have had to become a sleuth of sorts to go through a lot of this stuff, hiring investigators, working with investigators, and you have a book -- "red notice" that describes some of that investigative work. we have a phrase here that says -- follow the money. mr. browder: following the money is the key to all of these types of situations. >> how useful are tax returns as an investigative tool in following the money, as you described? mr. browder: i am not sure about tax returns. what i can tell you is that tracing wire transfers to organizations connected to
1:19 am
anything -- any public -- any foreign-policy objectives of the russians, will tell you a lot. to give an example, -- >> if an american has been engaged in such transactions, and if he has truthfully filed tax returns, then they would also provide evidence of those connections, would they not? mr. browder: presumably if the tax returns are -- half full -- have full disclosure, then that should be an area of interest. >> in the sentence where you said that addressing the sanctions was the single most important foreign policy or pursuit of russia, you also mentioned their use of banks in america. that rang a bell with me. why did you mention russian use of banks in america, and what would you like us to do about russian use of banks in america? mr. browder: basically, a lot of
1:20 am
the money coming out of russia is money that is the proceeds of crime. all of that money, if it is cent s and dollars go through american banks. we have an opportunity here to investigate and thesese - seize money that is the proceeds of crime. >> we should act on that opportunity. mr. browder: indeed. >> thank you. >> i will thank the ranking member and chairman for having this hearing. this whole story reflects some kind of novel. it sounds like fiction, but unfortunately maybe it is true. let us break down where you are -- why you are here. do you believe that gps should have registered as a foreign agent because they were lobbying for the russians?
1:21 am
mr. browder: that is correct. >> i want to absorb that for a moment. the dossier on president trump, by the british spy, one of -- wound up getting it to the fbi. you believe they were working for the russians. mr. browder: in the spring and summer of 2015, they were receiving money indirectly from a russian government official. >> ok. these were the people that were trying to undermine donald trump. by showing that he had nefarious ties to russia, that is what you are saying? mr. browder: what i am saying is that they were working to undermine the magnitsky act. >> fusion gps products, apparently they hired a guy to look into trump. right? mr. browder: right. >> and the guy they hired was trying to tell trump that he was -- trying to tell the world that
1:22 am
trump was compromised by the russians. have you looked at the report? mr. browder: i have not looked at it carefully. >> well that was what was said in the dossier. why is it important? the russians are behind fusion gps, who are going after trump. what is the russian lawyer named? natalia veselnitskaya. >> natalia veselnitskaya. >> is she working for the russians? mr. browder: she is. >> so, in june 2016, allegedly she is meeting with don junior, and the premise of the meeting was russian government is behind trump, and you need to meet with these people, they can help your campaign -- and donald trump says, i love it. and they met with this lady.
1:23 am
is that the idea of what happened in june? mr. browder: yes. >> so she is working with the russians, and she is trying to committed with her oligarch friends that the russians are on trump's side. got an email to that effect. is it common for them to playbook sides? mr. browder: yes. vladimir putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere. >> so you have looked at the -- this closer. you believe fusion gps is actually backed by the russians. they are trying to find dirt on trump, and you believe that the russian lawyer natalia veselnitskaya was working for the russians and was introduced to don junior by a business partner -- saying that the russian government is behind you
1:24 am
and they want to help you. meet with this lady. that is kind of interesting. so, wikileaks, the dnc, the podesta emails, do you have any doubt it was the russians who actually sold the emails? mr. browder: i rely on 17 intelligence agencies of russian government. >> is that something you think they would do? mr. browder: of course, i think the russians will do anything they can get away with anything. graham: do you know paul mr. browder: -- graham: do you know paul manafort? mr. browder: i do not. >> he represented russians in the ukraine. mr. browder: i am familiar. >> are you familiar with the fact that he was intricately involved in the putin world? mr. browder: yes. them seeing him a good campaign manager for
1:25 am
trump, a good opportunity? mr. browder: i cannot imagine that they would not -- if he was intimately connected to their puppets in ukraine. >> these think there is any chance at all that the meeting in june, that nobody called the russian intelligence services to explain what went on? browder: i'm sorry, who is calling who? >> the meeting in trump tower, what is the likelihood that the meeting took place and the people in the meeting did not call the russian intelligence services about how it went? mr. browder: i can tell you with 100% certainty that the russian intelligence services would of been aware of that meeting in advance. they would have been plotting it out, it would've been we spent studying how to best achieve the results of the meeting. >> the purpose of the meeting was not about adoptions that to get the trump world friendly to the idea of repealing the magnitsky act or to remove people from the ofac list. mr. browder: yes. >> i am 100% certain that the trump team were not aware that adoptions meant the magnitsky act.
1:26 am
trust me. i do not think they knew that. it was clear that after you that into that meeting what they were talking about. mr. browder: i do not know anyone's state of mind other than the russians. >> can you imagine the russian lawyer not bringing up the magnitsky act? mr. browder: she brought up the act. it was her main -- >> do you think her biggest motivation was to making sure americans can adopt russian children or to repeal the magnitsky act? mr. browder: to repeal the magnitsky act. if you follow her twitter feed, she never mentions adoptions once. she mentions me negatively. >> one of the people in the room is known by russian intelligence services to be friendly to their cause, manna port. browder: correct. >> what is the likelihood that you have one meeting and there was no follow-up between the russian intelligence services and somebody who would be sympathetic to their cause?
1:27 am
mr. browder: i don't know. it all depends on -- we know what the russians -- i know what the russians intentions were, i do not know how those intentions would have been -- graham: we know that don junior said that he loved the idea of getting help from russia. browder: indeed. graham: do you think he continued to love the idea of the help? mr. browder: it depends what they offered in the meeting, i guess. >> thank you. >> now, senator hirono. sen. hirono: mr. browder, you have given us a first-hand insight into putin's russia. your pop -- you are responsible for the passing of the magnitsky act. i thank you and i thank you for your courage in appearing today also. russia's interference with our 2016 of election and the connection with the trump
1:28 am
campaign is a tangled web, to say the least. how important do you think it is to our democracy that the mother investigation continues, free from political pressure from the president? mr. browder: i believe, based on intelligence reports, that russians did hack the election. it is crucial to understand, if there was any assistance from any american citizen in doing that. it is crucial. sen. hirono: does it come as a surprise to you that russian interests were collecting compromising information on someone? for example, candidate trump, to gain control over that person? mr. browder: vladimir putin is a former kgb agent. as i said, there is no such thing as a former kgb agent, there are only present kgb agents. in the kgb, they recruit people with no empathy or morals.
1:29 am
they trained them to go out and influence people using one of two ways, with bribery or blackmail and extortion. they figure out what you can bribe somebody with, and what people are scared of, to blackmail them. that is their modus operandi. it is entirely plausible they would've looked at all people who potentially influenced leaders in america and try to figure out if they are probable -- they are bribeable or extortable. sen. hirono: that is why the firing of sally yates, and the raising of concerns over trump's campaign operatives in their dealings with russia. as you described, this is a modus operandi for the russians to collect incriminating evidence on their target, so they can gain leverage or control over them. mr. browder: this is exactly what they do.
1:30 am
,here is a russian word for it which means to collect compromising information about the target. the russians do that on a regular basis. they have been doing it on me for 7.5 years. they do it on everybody to find some way to influence the people they want to influence. sen. hirono: you mentioned you have been a target of putin's russia ever since they kick you out. is this a daily concern for you, that you need to have security and people always alert to your safety and that of your family? mr. browder: yes. the russian government has made a number of threats against my life. they have threatened me with death, kidnapping. the russian government has tried and failed three times to have me put on interpol's most wanted list so i could get arrested while traveling. they tried to extradite me from the u.k., where i live. they have sued me for libel, they have made movies about me. there is probably 250 people
1:31 am
working inside the security systems on the bill browder story full time, trying to destroy me in whatever way they can. sen. hirono: we learned this morning that it is not just the repeal of the magnitsky act, it is highly unlikely that would happen, but there would be efforts to weaken the act and try to figure out ways to get people off the treasury office of foreign asset control. are there things we can do to make sure that kind of loophole is not created under the magnitsky act? mr. browder: i like senator whitehouse's idea of making it -- when a person is added to the list, make it an act of congress, not an executive decision, to remove them from that list. sen. hirono: thank you. with regard to the russian efforts and veselnitskaya's
1:32 am
efforts to repeal or weaken the magnitsky act. how does that interfere with the 2016 election? mr. browder: it is not clear to me how the two are exactly related. we know what they wanted, which was to have the magnitsky act repealed. perhaps they thought the probability of that was higher with their preferred candidate, then with of their less preferred candidate. i am not 100% certain they would -- they wouldn't have made the same attempt with the democratic candidate, hillary clinton, if there was any opening or receptively there. the russians are nonpartisan when it comes to interference in foreign policy and u.s. affairs. they would gladly talk to, try to bribe and blackmail anybody. sen. hirono: you describe a
1:33 am
scenario or environment in which they are totally ruthless and china achieved their end. they sensed weakness in someone, they will go after that person and figure out how to gain leverage over that person. after you contacted the department of justice regarding noncompliance, have you received any updates from them regarding the complaint you sent to them in july? and at the time of the complaint, did you have reason to believe any individuals involved had met with any political campaign people? mr. browder: i received no update since july. we know for sure that that part of their campaign was running around capitol hill. one of their biggest -- one of the people they were able to convince to go along with them is a member of the house of representatives from orange county, who they have met with on a number of occasions, and
1:34 am
who has been effectively touting or spreading their propaganda around the house of representatives. sen. hirono: we had a hearing yesterday. have you given any thought about the juxtaposition about these laws and how registration has dropped significantly since the passage of the lobbying disclosure act? do you have any ideas how we can make sure fara remains important? mr. browder: there is a loophole you can drive a truck through in the lobbying disclosure act, which says you do not have to register using fara if you are a company. as we have discussed here, there are a number of companies acting as proxies in the state. something needs to be done to close that loophole. sen. hirono: thank you. >> senator klobuchar. sen. klochubar: thank you for
1:35 am
being here, mr. browder. thank you for uncovering the facts. i can tell it is difficult to talk about the life and tragic death of your friend and someone who was your colleague. i think the story needs to be told. it was told when the magnitsky act passed. i remember senator mccain, senator curtin, and others. it has to be remembered. the only way we can change this going forward and make sure it does not happen in america again with our own elections is by telling these stories and getting to the bottom of the facts. while a lot has been devoted to talking about natalia veselnitskaya -- i tried it, based on your own experience in russia, do you have any other comments on the other person attending the meeting? on his background, and what you
1:36 am
believe he was in attendance of the meeting? mr. browder: rinat akhmetshin is a former soviet intelligence officer. a former intelligence officer in russia. it is like the hotel california. you can check out any time you like, but never leave. he became an american citizen. i know many people who have had contact with him and he is described on a regular basis as being a shady and shadowy character. he seemed to have gained the confidence of a lot of people in washington. he has been effectively a proxy for interests of the russian government here in washington. sen. klochubar: you talked a lot with other senators about how
1:37 am
when you hear they were there to talk about adoption, in fact of was code for the repeal of the magnitsky act. ahead of the adoption caucus, having been firsthand involved in those issues, those children were used as a pawn because vladimir putin was so angry about the passage of this act. can you talk about that issue, in terms of what it has meant? you must know people and have contact with people who were trying to adopt. mr. browder: this is one of the most heinous parts of this whole story. as you know, as an adoption expert, the russians never let americans adopt healthy orphans, just the sick ones. americans would go with open arms and hearts and taken children with hiv, down syndrome, heart conditions, spina bifida, bring them to america, nurse them to health, love them. putin was looking for the most sadistic thing he could do in
1:38 am
retaliation to american interests, and he picked this one. which was effectively what i would call a hostage situation. the orphans who were left in russia, many times with a medical issues, do not survive. they die. sen. klochubar: the other tragic part is, many families including some from my state, were in the middle of adopting a second child, a brother or sister of the first one they already had. those kids held those photos, knowing their sibling was going to come join them in america. and then they couldn't. mr. browder: it is the most heartbreaking thing, on both sides. on the side of these children, who had no future after that. and on the side of the family, who had painted the bedroom, had everything ready to go. there were 500 families in the middle of this thing. sen. klochubar: to have those repercussions and do something so heinous, what is it about
1:39 am
this act, besides the international embarrassment and the lost money? what do think would motivate this group of people to be so involved in trying to repeal this act? what do you think is the main motivation? mr. browder: because it affects putin's money personally. he is afraid of having his money frozen and seized. that is how these people all act. targeted sanctions are 100 times more upsetting to the russian kleptocracy then abroad sanctions. it is very simple. in russia, there are like 1000 people that have all the money. you do not have to sanction the country, just the individuals. that is where you end up with huge overreactions like this, and this heartbreaking adoptions attack. sen. klochubar: exactly. in terms of all this, when you follow the money -- it is hard for people to understand why
1:40 am
this meeting would occurred, why you have lawyers and people devoted to try to overturn this act. in fact, this is about money. senator whitehouse asked some questions about this himself. are you concerned the kremlin and their associates may be using shell companies? he talked about banks, but i am focused on the idea of a shell company as we try to unravel this and figure out where the assets are. mr. browder: anytime you can use anonymous companies to hide beneficial ownership, the russians flock to it. not just the russians, but all kleptocrats. there is a movement to make beneficial ownership fully transparent. one of the few remaining places in the world where you can still be anonymous is the united states and in certain states. it is an important piece of work
1:41 am
to do to make sure the u.s. does not become a haven for dirty money from places like russia. sen. klochubar: my last question is the foreign agents registration act, the subject of this hearing. yesterday, i asked the justice department and fbi whether they believe that the law should be updated, including advances in technology like social media, and to provide prosecutors with civil investigative demand authority to allow fara violators to turn over documents. is there any way the law could be better updated for what we are dealing with, like foreign agents and others influencing our laws? mr. browder: it is straightforward to me. if people that have not registered as foreign agents are convicted, prosecuted, and imprisoned, everyone will in the future register as foreign agents. sen. klochubar: very good, that is straightforward.
1:42 am
i wanted to thank you. i know senator hirono went through how you personally have been attacked and were willing to come out and make it your life's mission to avenge the death of your friend. and also, to stop this from happening to other people. i had the honor of meeting with senator mccain several times. what a brave man. to think he has been poisoned not once, but twice. you yourself must be concerned about such risks. thank you for coming before this committee. mr. browder: thank you. >> senator blumenthal? sen. blumenthal: thank you, i want to join my colleagues in thanking you today and admiring your courage and tenacity in the face of evil. i do not think there is any other way to characterize vladimir putin and what he has done, both to magnitsky and
1:43 am
countless others in russia and around the world. i want to focus on stopping the -- following the money. when i was a federal prosecutor, we sometimes did wiretaps. we would overhear mobsters using codewords for dollars, like tomatoes and fish. in this case, adoption was referring to the thing of value, which for vladimir putin, was lifting sanctions, which meant money to him. and for the other participants in the meeting, it was referring to something of value to them, and the promise to them, made in emails was that they would have damaging information, dirt on donald trump's opponent, hillary clinton. is that a fair summary? mr. browder: absolutely, what has been described.
1:44 am
i would caution you in believing anything that the russians either promise in advance or describe, because the russians are liars. i am very confident about what they were asking for. i am not so confident about what was being offered. something was being offered, but i would not believe the russians and the enticements they might have put in front of them to get the meeting. because anything could've been offered, in reality. sen. blumenthal: is there any doubt in your mind, knowing as well as any american, how vladimir putin operates, that natalia veselnitskaya was there, acting on behalf of vladimir putin in the russian government? mr. browder: there is no doubt. sen. blumenthal: is there any doubt in your mind that rinat akhmetshin was aiding her, acting on behalf of vladimir
1:45 am
putin in the russian government? mr. browder: there is no doubt. sen. blumenthal: when my colleague, senator lindsey graham asked you about reporting back to intelligence agencies, these two individuals, natalia and akhmetshin, where acting on behalf of vladimir putin in initiating a potential agreement, legally probably a conspiracy, involving the russian government and donald trump junior and the other participants in that meeting, correct? mr. browder: that was the intention of the russians. sen. blumenthal: in your view, wouldn't it have been appropriate and proper for the participants in that meeting, americans, to report to american law enforcement authorities at -- about that meeting? mr. browder: if i was sitting in
1:46 am
their shoes, that is what i would have done. i cannot comment how they choose to conduct their lives. sen. blumenthal: it certainly would have been appropriate and proper for someone respecting than national interests of the united states to report to the fbi or appropriate law enforcement official? mr. browder: that would have been my actions. sen. blumenthal: in terms of following the money, the russians have a well rehearsed with business ties with officials abroad. them to build a financial self-interest on their part. mr. browder: as i said before, they either used bribery or blackmail to get people to cooperate with them. there are many examples of what you're talking about. the former chancellor of germany became a big advocate for
1:47 am
vladimir putin and for getting a large, regular payment. it is absolutely in their nature to do that for the people that are susceptible to bribery. sen. blumenthal: if you were in robert mueller's shoes, would you be looking into potential financial ties between members of the trump campaign, who are alleged to have conspired with the russians and undermined our democracy and the russians financial ties would certainly would be relevant, wouldn't they? mr. browder: if i was investigating the story, i would follow the money as a first step into the investigation. sen. blumenthal: you would look at financial connections and relationships between people involved in the trump campaign
1:48 am
including those three individuals at that meeting, and russians -- not only outright bribery, but also potential investments with russian companies, because they represented vladimir putin, correct? mr. browder: anytime we are involved -- i have been involved for seven and a half years tracing the money from the money sergei magnitsky was killed over and all the work we have done we have traced money. if we find somebody we believe is suspicious, we see where the financial flows go to them. it is an obvious first step in any investigation to look at the business type, money, and connections. sen. blumenthal: veselnitskaya and akhmetshin also, in terms of following the money, use various representatives here, in addition to themselves, did they not? mr. browder: they did, they used several people, the potomac
1:49 am
square group, all u.s.-based, washington, d.c.-based firms. sen. blumenthal: would you recommend this committee hear from them? mr. browder: indeed. sen. blumenthal: you mentioned the prosecutor in the area in his email to donald trump junior, he claims the information he has that could harm hillary clinton's campaign would come from the crown prosecutor of russia. there is no such position as crown prosecutor. it is widely assumed rob goldstone was referring to uri, the russian prosecutor general, and close ally of vladimir putin. are you familiar with him?
1:50 am
mr. browder: yes, he is one of putin's closest confidants. he is one of the people most compromised by the magnitsky affair. he was deeply involved with natalia veselnitskaya, working hand in glove with her on this whole initiative they had launched in america. not just in terms of donald trump jr., but lobbying congress. sen. blumenthal: again, he would have a financial and political interest in the magnitsky act, would he not? mr. browder: he is a potential magnitsky designee, someone who should be targeted under the magnitsky act. given he and his family are very wealthy people, they would potential be very exposed to be added to the magnitsky list. sen. blumenthal: finally, natalia veselnitskaya was not just any russian picked from a crowd.
1:51 am
she was vladimir putin's point person in trying to repeal the magnitsky act. his prime foreign policy interest? mr. browder: correct. >> senator durbin. sen. durbin: are you familiar with mikael friedman? mr. browder: i am. dubin:ngling - sen. what do you know about him? mr. browder: he is one of the original 22 oligarchs who became rich in russia by banking, oil, telecom, telecommunications and other businesses. sen. durbin: you say in 2003 when vladimir putin had a trial, it was a thinly veiled message to the oligarchs to "play with me or go sit in a cage." in 2003, vladimir putin is reported to have flown to london
1:52 am
to either celebrate or note the merger of mikhail fridman's oil company with british petroleum. are you familiar with that? mr. browder: very much so. sen. durbin: he is involved in so many different business dealings. i try to do research, and it is voluminous. all the different things he is doing in so many places, many in russia, others outside of russia. what would you say about the suspicion there was some communication between alpha bank and the trump campaign, which was reported and has been debated back and forth as to whether it was true? mr. browder: i only know about that from what i have read in the press. from what i have read in the press, it is not enough information for me to make any judgment. sen. durbin: based on what you
1:53 am
know about the background you have described to me, it would give you some measure of caution, would it not, in dealing with alpha bank and mr. fridman, from the perspective of our own national security, would it not? mr. browder: i would say any russian oligarch, i would not single out alpha bank, all russian oligarchs should be dealt with with extreme caution. their wealth is totally dependent on their relationship with vladimir putin. sen. durbin: let me tell you why i asked the question. we have a man that wants to head the criminal division of the department of justice. he appeared before the committee recently. he had alpha bank as a client, after the election of donald trump and after he served on the transition team, the landing team, when it came to the department of justice. it raised a lot of red flags from where i am sitting as to
1:54 am
why he would make such a poor decision. if you were seeking to be part of our government, and complicated by the fact he said he would not disqualify or recuse himself from investigations into russian involvement in the last campaign. the more i read about this mr. fridman, he is one of the wealthiest oligarchs in russia, a billionaire. alpha bank, which was represented through a law firm, at least raises a question in my mind. am i overreacting? what is your thought about this? mr. browder: as i said before, any russian oligarchs should be dealt with with extreme caution. it all depends upon the ethics of this individual.
1:55 am
i do not know his loyalties to his former client. it would be wrong for me to make any judgment about it. sen. durbin: understood. i am trying to piece together a few things. i am trying to understand the steel dossier as it relates to fusion can you tell me about their role, why the dossier was created and what they hope to achieve? mr. browder: i only know about the steel dossier and this whole thing from what i have read in the press. i am just a bystander in that part of the story. what i am familiar with on a first-hand basis is fusion gps and glenn simpson's role working on behalf of the russian government to overturn the magnitsky act. the steps they took very much compromise their integrity. sen. durbin: you are saying you
1:56 am
do not know about a connection between steele fusion and the dossier? mr. browder: i do not. sen. durbin: this june meeting with mr. trump jr. and paul manafort and others really raises extraordinary questions about what the russians were trying to achieve with that meeting. you have any other indications of meetings that took place, similar meetings involving the trump campaign or family? mr. browder: i know nothing about any other meetings with the trump campaign or family. i do know the russians were all over the capitol hill and hear in congress trying to get meetings with members of congress to try to make the same type of pitch. unsuccessfully, in the end. that they were here, en masse. sen. durbin: i will cut my questions at this point. thank you for coming here. i deeply regret what has happened to mr. magnitsky, who
1:57 am
was trying his best to resolve the challenge they put in your path. i joined with my colleagues in the creation of these sanctions. i have my own stories about russia and mr. putin to tell, based on my baltic heritage. i do believe the case is solid , and i thank you for coming before us today. >> that ends our first round. i have two questions for the and if the others have questions, i will call on you. i am going to read the last question you answered. the question you answered, did you meet anyone from the justice
1:58 am
department when you filed yoru fara complaint and did the justice department let you know whether they had acted on the complaint. my follow-up is, did you have any indication that it was being actively investigated or taken seriously, and why you think nothing was done when you talk your complaint about the propaganda campaign? no browder: i have indication that anything is being done, but i also have no indication that anything is not being done. i have worked with law enforcement on other issues here in the united states in relation to the magnisky case. we tend to see a different type of interaction than when something is not being done. my assumption is nothing is being done here. i can't say that definitively.
1:59 am
>> last question. the human rights foundation said fusion manipulated the media to smear whistleblowers. in that statement, they urged the committee to probe fusion's activity, in particular "fusion's willingness to pay journalists in exchange for the publication of business smears." do you have any reason to suspect that fusion may have taken part in paid to play tactics, offering money to
2:00 am
journalists that benefit their clients? >> i do not have any hard evidence to present in that area but i suspect a number of journalists and one in particular here in washington was operating so far outside the bounds of normal journalistic integrity that there must have been some incentive for them to be getting it. >> this has been a great hearing and i appreciated. fusion gps is a firm that does opposition research for clients on a case-by-case basis. kind of like a lawyer taking up a client and at the end of the job they separate. correct? >> i don't know their overall practice, i only know their practice the situation i am involved in. >> in your case, they took on russian interests as a client and the cap was to apply pressure and opposition research
2:01 am
in order to undo the magnitsky act, in regards to fusion gps -- do you know who commission that. >> i do not. >> you mentioned the russians either use bribery or blackmail, once they have a business person in a foreign country where they want to exert influence, are they perfectly willing to use the threat of blackmail about their own bribery scheme against of that individual? >> the moment you enter into
2:02 am
their world you become theirs. >> they have been ways with the character of continued bribery and the stick of exposure and blackmail. >> and that is how every single one of their relationships works and that's how they grab people and keep them and once you're, once you get stuck in with them, you can never leave. >> so under investigating financial transactions and understanding financial relationships is critical to this? >> indeed, yes. >> let me ask you a 50,000 foot question. let's pull up to the highest levels of kind of policy. corrupt kleptocrats and international criminals make themselves rich in criminality and corruption, but then at some point they need the legitimate world in order to protect and account for their stolen proceeds. how good of a job is
2:03 am
the legitimate world doing about fencing off the corrupt world rather than facilitating it and aiding and abetting it, how well is the united states of america in particular doing in that role? >> the answer is that the -- >> am i correct about the first thing, that they need us? >> they need us desperately. as easy as it was for them to steal the money in russia and other places, it could be stolen from them. they like to steal the money, commit crimes, kill people -- >> in the corrupt world. >> and income here -- >> in the legitimate world. >> with the rule of law and with all the property rights and keep their money in the legitimate world. >> how good of a job is the legitimate world in particular doing about cleaning it. >> the legitimate world and america in particular are failing in an absolute way in keeping them out.
2:04 am
and in fact, there's such a financial incentive in the legitimate world for enablers to take their money and to help them, enable them to keep their money here and to protect them that it's a completely lost game. >> i'd note that the american bar association of all things him and bar association of all things has stated its opposition to our incorporation transparency bill which would appear to be driven by that group of enablers who are also members of the bar. >> well, the lawyers are some of the worst enablers in these situations and they somehow say, well, everybody needs a legal defense and they're their justification for working for the most heinous people on the planet. >> in the long run, between freedom and democracy and corruption and unitary power, what is the effect do you think of freedom world's participation in aiding and abetting corrupt world?
2:05 am
>> well, basically we're eventually going to become the corrupt world if we don't stop, there, this is a war of ideology between rule of law and criminality. if we allow all of the criminal money to come here then it's going to corrupt us until we end up like them. >> if you're an ordinary russian or an ordinary member of an african kleptocracy, just a regular person and you see these vaunted temples of democracy like america actually aiding and abetting the kleptocrats who are robbing your country, how do you think that would make people feel about what we have to offer? >> totally demoralized. >> thank you. >> senator blumenthal? >> thanks. just a few more questions and i want to again thank you because i think this hearing has been one of the most important we have held before the judiciary committee. i apologize for the absence of a number of our colleagues here today. but i think they will be very
2:06 am
interested in your story and your recommendation. i want to come back to uri chaika, because i think he's a key figure for our purposes in this committee and for the investigation of potential conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russian. uri chaika was not just the prosecutor general in russia, he was a close ally and lieutenant of vladimir putin, correct? >> that's absolutely correct. >> so when rod goldstone said to his colleagues that information was coming in effect from uri chaika, it was like saying i have vladimir putin on the line, correct? >> that would be the impression. a russian expert would draw from that.
2:07 am
>> and anybody familiar with russia would know and paul manafort was familiar with russia that information from uri chaika was in effect dirt coming from vladimir putin and the offer of it was coming from vladimir putin. >> that would be the impression i would have if i, if i got that e-mail. >> and so with natalia veselnitskaya coming to the meeting as an agent of vladimir putin and the offer of information coming almost directly from vladimir putin, there could be no doubt that the russian government and vladimir putin were in effect coming to this meeting, correct? >> well, again, i can only speak for how i would react to that information and that would be my impression. >> but you have had a lot of
2:08 am
experience with the russians. >> yeah. >> and so you're familiar with their m.o. and your expert testimony here i think is worth a lot to this committee and that would be your impression and there would be no doubt in your mind that not only vladimir putin knew about it after the meeting as senator graham has elicited from you, but also before the meeting. >> yes. >> and in coming to this meeting, would vladimir putin expect to necessarily conclude a deal right there? in other words, have the agreement to lift the sanctions done in return for the information being deposited on their desk? that isn't the way he'd operate, is it? >> no. i mean, if he was trying to lift sanctions he would look to see whether there was an appetite and whatever he was offering was in a accepted and then it would have ended up in many future meetings. >> he was looking for a sign that the trump campaign was open
2:09 am
for business, correct? >> i would imagine that he was looking to see whatever, with whatever he was offering whether that offer was looked at favorably or not. >> he was looking for a positive sign that they were open to deal further? >> i would imagine that's what he was looking for. >> and in terms of the likely scenario afterward, there would be additional contacts, possibly meeting, other communications. >> well, if they had, if this had led to interest, i'm not aware of any further meetings other than the first meeting. >> you wouldn't be aware of it because you don't have access to any of the classified information in the intercepts,
2:10 am
any other information that might be available to the special prosecutor. >> that's correct. >> the question about the effects of the sanctions, maybe you could describe for americans who are wondering why did these sanctions matter to billionaires? in other words, they have the money. they are on a list. they can't open bank accounts in bank of america say. but why should that matter to these oligarchs who are worth billions and they can still travel the world and do everything they want to do and they're still wealthy? >> it really does matter. it matters because they cannot only just not open bank accounts in america. they can't open bank accounts anywhere in the world. no bank wants to be in violation of the u.s. treasury sanctions. furthermore, no foreign company, no international company wants to be in violation of treasury sanctions and so they can no longer transact business with anybody, so effectively they become a financial leper, financial pariah once they get
2:11 am
on to the magnitsky list. if you have $1 billion and you can't keep it anywhere and you can't buy anything from anybody and you can't do any business with anybody, you won't be able to make any more money for sure. you won't be able to invest your money. and you'll be afraid that your money might be frozen in some countries. >> you can't go to london or paris or new york and stay at the expensive hotels and put it on a credit card or cash a check or, any of the normal things that oligarchs and billionaires, -- billionaires. >> you can't do that stuff. so then they have to find ways around it. in fact, we have discovered that some people on the magnitsky list are effectively breaking sanctions by creating nominees who do all their stuff for them. and we have in fact shared that information with the treasury ofac division to say that the magnitsky sanctions are being evaded by certain people on the
2:12 am
magnitsky list. >> is it your experience that ofac is sufficiently aggressive in enforcing the sanctions? >> so far, i think that the guys who are being put on the list are running circles around ofac. >> so the answer is no. >> that's correct. >> sanctions have not been sufficiently enforced and i might add, that's my experience as well in overseeing other sanctions relating to iran and russia that there is a need for far more aggressive enforcement. it's fine to their names on the list, it's fine to have a law on the books but if it's not enforced it's dead letter. >> that's correct. >> let me conclude with two more questions, couple more questions. you mentioned that once the russians in effect have you, they don't let go. >> yes. >> and they can have you financially. >> yes. >> so that anybody doing deals in russia or taking payments or benefits from russia can be had in effect?
2:13 am
>> well, they have to have you compromised in some way. in other words, if you're just doing arms length business with them and you're ready to give up your arms length business, they have no leverage over you. but if, the moment that somebody enters into any type of illegitimate situation with the russians, that's the moment that the russians have you. >> as you know, there are allegations and we believe they're under investigation that the president's former national security adviser michael flynn took payments from the russians themut properly declaring or getting permission to receive them. that would've been the kind of fact that the russians could hold over him and they would, correct? >> i don't know the consequences of that. if there are real consequences to him of that, that is a -- buildings type
2:14 am
in russia that required permits and the permits were promised through channels that might be elicit or in ways that might be improper, that would be something that could be held over the head of an american business man, correct? >> if there was clear evidence that the russians could have created of an american violating the foreign corrupt practices act that could be used as leverage and held over the heads of an american. >> thank you, thank you mr. chairman. >> before i adjourn the meeting, one last thank you and i appreciate very much more importantly your willing to stay overnight so you can appear again today. i think i have heard from my colleagues a very valuable witness that you have been. so i thank you and god speed. >> thank you.
2:15 am
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
2:16 am
>> coming up friday on c-span3, walter shaw will discuss the six months he worked in the trump administration and his decision to resign. live from the national press club at 10:00 a.m. eastern. then discussion about the iranian public opinion. the nuclear agreement and the trump administration live from the atlanta castle starting a
2:17 am
new. later a conversation about the importance of u.s. japan military alliance. hosted by the center for strategic and international studies live at 2:30 eastern. you can follow all of these events live on c-span3, and with the free c-span radio app. in theidn't cut our way 1990's. we didn't tux -- tax our way to surplus in the 1990's. the gingrich led house in the senate which the republicans had at the time. while theestraint economy grew as revenues caught up to spending. that is how you get to surplus. way throughut your balanced budget. you cannot tax away to a balanced budget.
2:18 am
you can grow your way to a balanced budget. >> watch our interview with mick on c-span,riday c-span radio app staff army chief of talked about security challenges. the president's statement on transgender people in the military and u.s. army priority. >> good afternoon. and welcome to the national press club, the place where news happens.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on