Skip to main content

tv   William Bowder Testifies on Russian Corruption and Magnitsky Act  CSPAN  July 27, 2017 9:02am-10:48am EDT

9:02 am
9:03 am
i reconvene our hearing. i gave my opening statement yesterday. i don't have anything to add to it but i got a few housekeeping things to take care of. i'm disappointed that the two-hour rule was invoked to shut down this hearing before we could hear from mr. browder's testimony. he traveled from overseas to be here to testify about the efforts to manipulate our government media. this is an important topic to discuss. if the other party is truly serious about getting to the bottom of the russian
9:04 am
interference they should hear him out. mr. browder, i thank you very much for changing your travel plans to be here. i will introduce items into the record. the first is a letter by the human rights foundation. he and others uncovered a corruption scheme and a foreign company laundering money through j.p. morgan. he claims that the foreign company hired fusion gps planted slanderous news items and intimidated journalists who were going report on the corruption
9:05 am
scheme. the second is by lee smith titled fusion gps of manufactured news for hire. the third is a new york times article titled soviet vetterera. it describes the activities of a russian american lobbiest named in mr. browder's. so without objection those would be included in the record. i would like to introduce into the record senator crepel has a constituents who would like to submit written testimony about his experience with fusion gps. without objection he may do so within one week from today. i also want to insert a letter from airline pilots association
9:06 am
the letter alleges the association engaged the political activities on behalf of foreign state owned airlines in the middle's. so without objection i will do that. i'll let the ranking member make any statement she has and i will introduce and swear or witness. >> thanks very much. yesterday we heard from government experts, representatives from the justice department and the fbi along with doj's inspector general. that confirmed there is a significant problem with under enforcement of the law. individuals who lobby and engage in political activities on
9:07 am
behalf of foreign government and interests in the united states do not register in a way that works with the justice department. right now there are no real kons wenss for fail to go 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 other public information. at times the department also receives complaints alleging individuals or companies have failed to register their lobbying or other political activities on behalf of foreign interests. today we'll hear from one such individual. i do not know mr. browder. it is my understanding that in july 2016 he filed a complaint alleging that a number of individuals failed to register
9:08 am
their russian backed lobbying efforts against the magnitski act. among those named in mr. browder's campaign is the russian lawyer. as we all know she met with the trump campaign on june 9, 2016 with the understanding that she would offer incriminating information on hillary clinton, the campaign's opponent in the president's election. it is my understanding mr. browder is very familiar with her and another person -- while he does not have firsthand knowledge of what happened on june 9 his experience with these
9:09 am
specific individuals and his broader understanding of how the russian government operates may well advance the committee's understanding of what motivated that meeting. with that i yield back glchlt thank you. . >> thank you. in 2007 russian government officials an members of organized crime engage until corporate identity theft, stole the corporate identity of three hermitage and obtained them fraudulently. it filed a criminal complaint with russian law enforcement.
9:10 am
mr. browder's lawyer was jailed and died under very suspicious circumstances. brow der worked to get them to authorize the president to sanction russian officials in this and other human rights abuses. would you please stand, sir? do you affirm that the testimony you're about the give before the committee will be the truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you for your affirm malgs. i would like to have you take seven minutes, if you can, but we would like to save time for questions. let's say seven or eight minutes and then we'll ask you
9:11 am
questions. >> thank you for giving me this opportunity to tell the story about the russian campaign. i'm bill browder. i'm founder and ceo of hermitage capital management. we discovered massive corruption in the companies we invested in. to fight that corruption we start today research how they went about doeng the tale steals and share that had with international media. this naming and shaming campaign had some positive effect on the share price of the companies and it was also made russia a better
9:12 am
place for some period of time but exposing billions of dollars upset the people who were benefitting. those people had very close connections with if put putin regime. in november of 2005 i was expelled from the country. i was declared a threat to national security. in june of 2007 my moscow office was raided by 25 officers from the moscow interior industry. 25 raided the office of firestone duncan. in those raids they sought to get the investments for our holding companies.
9:13 am
i hired the smart erts man i knew to investigate who did what and how we could stop them. he went out, investigated and came back with an astounding conclusion. he came back with that the purpose was to try to steal our assets which they didn't succeed in doing. they did succeed in stealing $230 million this taxes that we paid to the russian government from the russian government. it wasn't of my money or firm's money but of the rush than government's money, $230 million. it was the largest tax refund fraud in the history of russia. we thought that putin was a nationalist, that he wouldn't have allowed his own officials to steal from his own country. we figured if we brought it to
9:14 am
the attention of the highest authorities then the good guys would get the buy bad guys. we wrote criminal complaints to every different branch. i went to the newspapers. it turned out in putin's russia there are no good guys. about six weeks after he testified against a bunch of corruption officials they came and arrested him and put him in pretrial detention. they put him in cells with 14 inmates, 8 beds and lights on 24 hours a day. they put him in cells with no
9:15 am
toilet, just a hole in the floor where the sewage would bubble up. they would move him from cell to to cell and get him to sign a false confession that he stole $230 million. because he refused the pressure increased and in six months he developed terrible pounds in his stoma stomach. he was needed an operation which was scheduled for the 1st of august. a week before his they moved him to a maximum security prison considered to be one of the most awful prisons in russia and there were no medical facilities there. his health completely broke down. he went into constant ear piercing pain and they refused
9:16 am
him medal treatment. they wrote 20 tircht desperate requests. all of them were ignored in some cases denied in writing. after a couple of months of this horrib horrible torture his body could not longer hold out. he went into critical condition. on that night the authorities didn't want to have responsibility for him. they put him in an ambulance, sent him to a different facility. when he arrived at the different prison instead of putting him in an emergency room he was chained to a bed and they beat him until he died. he was 37 years old. he left a wife and two children. i got news of his murder the
9:17 am
morning of the 17th and i have made it my life's work since then to get justice. justice was impossible to get in russia. they exonerated everybody involved gave honors to those most implicit. i came here to washington. i told senator benjamin john mccain the same story and they came up with the magnitski act to ban visas of those who commit other gross human rights abuses in russia. it passed 92-4 in the senate. and was signed into law on the 14th of december, 2012. president putin was infur rated by this. he then banned the adoption of
9:18 am
russian orphans by american families. this reason why is because putin was one of the beneficiaries of one of the $230 million fraud. we traced it to a man who has been exposed as being one of his nominees. putin was so infuriated at the act that he put magnitski on trial, the first ever history of a dead man and put him as his codefendant finding us both guilty. a number of people have been killed. seven people have died either from murder or suspicious circumstances and a number of other attempted murders. for example one of our allies in fighting for justice and coming
9:19 am
to congress here he was murdered in front of -- coming to these organizations to lobby for the magnitski act. his protege was poisoned within an inch of his life. he went into critical condition. he was in coma. he had multiple organ failures and barely survived. the family lawyer was thrown off of a fourth floor balcony. i have had numerous threats for my own life. it's not just death threats. it's not just violence but also what i call political violence. the political violence came in the form of a massive campaign that the russian campaign launched here in washington. she organize newsed a number of individuals to come to washington and lobby and
9:20 am
basically tell a false story that magnitsky wasn't murdered she engaged a number of people and the purpose of engagement was to repeal magnitsky's act. in addition to it being effectively a campaign -- i'll be done in one second. in addition to it being a campaign to effectively cover up a murder -- >> can you just ask the year he came and did this is this. >> you can finish your statement but right now would you ask your
9:21 am
question? >> i'm sorry i have gone over. >> we are not going to stop you. >> when he came to this country what year was that? >> i believe it was 2014. >> sorry, i have gone over. i'm just about done. in addition to this being morally rep henceable none of these people registered as foreign agents under the foreign registration act. i put together a complaint to the department of justice where we listed out what they did rngs who did what and the fact that they weren't registered with foreign agent registration act.
9:22 am
it is something that needs to stop in the future. i think that the rules governing this thing should be strengthened. thank you very much. >> yesterday we announced we were going to have seven minute rounds of discussion. each member will have seven minutes. mr. simpson told the media he only did some research as litigation support. propaganda worked for foreign principal required registration as a foreign agent. it's important to understand
9:23 am
whether mr. simpson was pushing negative information about you in the media. i have several questions along this line. could you explain how mr. simpson manipulated to undermine the act and how do you know about that? >> so glenn simpson was calling a number of journalists pitching a story to the journalists as the mact -- the story was that e had not been murdered but he died of natural causes. he wasn't a wlis l blower that he was a criminal. the story i told was incorrect and therefore it should be repealed. that was the story he was pitching. i know he was pitching that story because a number of journalists came to me to ask me about it. he was unsuccessful for the most
9:24 am
part in getting that story written. it doesn't take away from the fact he was trying to get that story published. that is not litigation support. it is impossible for me to see how it could be litigation support because had those stories been written and during the litigation that he was supposed to be supporting any juror who had read those stories would have been disqualified. it could only have been for the purpose of trying to change legislation here in washington. >> your complaint and your testimony today have an effort by this group of unregistered foreign agents. were they working together or were these separate isolated efforts and how do you know and then what basis do you have for believing that fusion gps's efforts were in the interest of the russian government rather
9:25 am
than in the holdings? >> to answer your first question this entire effort was under the -- she was the one organizing it. it was a highly resourced operation. it was being paid for by her client, which was the family of russia. they were paying the bills. the patriarch is a senior russian government official. he was the region the size of france. he is currently the second most important state company and she a senior member of the put putin regime. in terms of -- could you repeat the second part of your question? >> what do you have in believing the efforts were in the interest of the russian government rather
9:26 am
tan in the interest of holdings in. >> it was under investigation by the department of justy for specific money laundering statutes. even if they had been successful in repealing the act which is one and a million shot even if they had been successful it wouldn't have had any bearing. >> okay. there have been media reports alleging that some of the stolen money went to a russian investment bank called renaissance capital. what can you tell us about that and what is renaissance
9:27 am
capital's connection if any with the russian government? >> renaissance capital is a russian investment bank. it was headed by at the time of this crime by a man named steven jennings. they trumpeted the fact that they had a number of officers on their staff. i should point out there's no such thing as a former fsb officer. it's a lifetime commitment. went in the united kingdom. >> i think you said this but let
9:28 am
me make sure about renaissance capital's connection if any with the russian government. it is connected to the russian government through fsb employees who were at the senior level of renaissance capital. >> this issue is also important to the committee. the same russian bank, renaissance capital paid 500,000 for june 2010 speech in moscow.
9:29 am
or let you know whether they that had acted on your complaint. >> the other was an in person meeting here in washington to follow up on the complaint. it was initiated by my firm and other than providing information i have no knowledge of what happened afterwards. >> okay. senator. >> okay.
9:30 am
indeed you're a very brave man. i respect that and i respect your loyalty to magnitski. having said that, it's hard for me to understand why the act still sticks in the krau of russia and what vet l they would have to do with that. so what is the feeling of that? >> it is a good yes. i believe there are two reasons why putin, why this is the single most important foreign policy. the first reason is we have evidence that putin's nominee
9:31 am
who say famous cellist received some of the proceeds of this crime. it is a cellist -- >> the crime being what they took from your office. >> the $230 million in taxes he paid. he received some of that $230 million. puti putin i believed to be the richest man in the world. that is held all over the world in banks and all over. the purpose has been to commit terrible crimes medical record -- crimes to get that money. he is at risk of the magnitski act. it is the first reason why he is so upset. the second reason is in order to get that he has had to instruct a lot of people working for him to do terrible things to arrest, kidnap, torture, and kill to
9:32 am
take people's properties away. as a result the only way he could get people do such terrible things is to say there would be no consequence. you would enjoy impunity. he can no longer guarantee absolute impunity. all of a sudden we created consequences in the west. i would not underestimate. not only does it freeze the asset that is are held in america but the moment you get onto the list you get put on the list which is a treasury sanctions list. no bank wants to be in violation and therefore any bank fechb it is in south korea or dubai will close their account that day and as a result you become a financi financial, so it's a consequence.
9:33 am
>> where does it come into this? >> it is the family lawyer for the family. it is a putin regime family. they own a company identified as received some of the money from the $230 million fraud. they ended up having to defend themselves in new york and they came with her. she became the point person to fight the money laundering charges. i should point out in fighting money laundering charges they spent between 30 and $40 million to save $14 million that have been frozen by the department of justice. so the incentive goes well
9:34 am
beyond their own personal interest. >> she was president at this meeting on june 9th. what interest do you believe she had and what goal did she want to achieve? >> it is absolutely clear the interest and the goal. the interest and the goal in that meeting was to repeal the magnitski act. it is one thing we should conclude about what happened. >> do you believe or have any evidence or knowledge that this was a quid pro quo on behalf of p putin, that if there was a repeal they would do certain things? >> i have no evidence or no direct knowledge. i do know how the russian government behaves what they
9:35 am
were willing to offer i don't know. i do know that the fsb and these are the security services would have constructed an offer they thought was appealing. >> one last question about her, has she ever worked directly for the russian government? >> yes, she has. >> when and where? >> she worked for the fsb being the successor organization in the moscow region where she is from. i don't have the exact date. >> thank you.
9:36 am
>> thank you, mr. chairman. of course you can't repeal a law in the united states if congress objects, and so it's really kind of incredible this mr. putin would think by talks to the son of the candidate that he would be able to repeal the act. i assure you, there's no way congress would agree to repeal the magnitsky act. i of his anger when i was trying
9:37 am
to go through passport control in st. petersburg. while my wife and daughter made it through i did not. i have no doubt this is personal to mr. putin. he is trying to lash out at those who participating and passing it. i'm proud we did pass it. it is hard to distinguish between commercial enterprises and government. for example they are owned by the russian government. many countries around the world where you have monarchies and other governments essential essn places that is embedded in every commercial enterprise it's impossible to separate those two. in russia you point out there are about 100 billionaires that
9:38 am
own about a third of the country's wealth. it is really impossible. you don't become wealthy in russia without being directly tied to the russian government. of course many of these have branched out and have begun to buy western companies and commercial interests including sports clubs, manufacturing companies and technology companies. of course these come to congress and try to lobby us on behalf of these industries without our knowledge that they are actually representing nation states that are adverse to the interest of the american people. should we be concerned -- more concerned than we have been to this point not just with russia meddling in our elections but with foreign countries around the world with interests adverse to the united states using these so called commercial enterprises
9:39 am
which are nothing other than fronts for the country and the nation's state. should we be more concerned than we have been on their influence in the united states? >> yes. absolutely. you have really brought up a hugely important point. in russia and other countries the way that the world works is that the president of that country allows certain people to get rich. he often gets a share of the wealth of those people and then he can rely on those people to do the state's bidding in situations where it may not be appropriate or they may not want to show the government's face. in russia it is entirely an informal system like that. who have gotten rich who have then gotten lots of foreign
9:40 am
policy work all over the world in order further putin's agenda which is adverse to decency and democracy and liberal thought. so yes. >> we are obviously an open and free society. our adversaries take advantage of of that. do you think these commercial entities that are for state owned enterprises and people like putin should be forced to register under the foreign agents registration act? >> it's absolutely essential that they do and absolute transparency about what their interests are. that's been one of the -- and you're right, the issue -- we have a free society, free press,
9:41 am
doe mock si, open ideas. they are taking advantage of that. the only way we can keep our free society is by having absolute transparency. you can calibrate whether their interests are -- should be taken into account if they are operating on an adversary. >> including when people come to lobby congress. we need to know who they are working for. >> absolutely. >> is it possible to achief any status in russia and be beyond putin's reach? >> no. i was looking -- i was somebody who tried to be independent and to be completely honest. >> they ran you off? >> they threw me out of the country, killed a bunch of people, tried to steal all of my money. >> that's the con kwenss of
9:42 am
trying to be independent of putin in russia. in your opinion, how large is the community of u.s. company enablers searching? do you an idea about that? >> i would imagine that probably a big majority of the lobbiest is would be glad to take the money from russia. i don't know how many would be happy not to register as foreign agents. there's a big community of enablers wanting to get the business of being an enabler for russia. i have seen lots of that here in russia! while we are focused on russia today as a result of your experience, this same means can be yiezed by any other country wloz interests are not aligned with the united states gochlt.
9:43 am
>> that's correct. there sunt seem to be any consequence for not registering. there is no consequence. it seems that the problem. >> thank you for your courage. >> thank you. >> senator whitehouse. i'll tell you why i call you whitehurs. >> there is a famous whistle blower that exposed a lot of labs and i protected him and he got fired, as every whistle blower does. he did sue and we got a new $40,000 lab down at the mar vin station to do the right work.
9:44 am
>>. >> i'm glad hear it's a positive association. >> i wanted to say a couple of quick things. i believe corruption is a world plague, not a local phenomenon. i'm very grateful to you. you may have done more to fight than any other individual. i appreciate what you have done. the second is to point out i guess senate grassly would require. so the united states doesn't become the sanctuary for international criminals. we welcome the support of any other committee members that were concerned about these commercial entities that are fronting for other folks. and third, while the president is highly unlikely to be able to undo the act i do believe there is the power in the president to
9:45 am
remove people off of the list. >> yes. >> so the approach to the trumps had a potential goal that did not require undoing the act and we are looking at rewriting the act right now to close off that opportunity to make sure there is not this executive back door to delisting people who are listed on the magnitski. so can you give an idea of what put puttin is such that it is the threat to putin. >> so when putin was originally fighting with them, when they
9:46 am
first came to power and so in order to regain the power of the presidency in 2003 he arrested a man, the owner that they dragged him off of their airplane, private jet, put him on trial. >> talk about a reset. >> indeed. when you go on trial there's a 99.7 conviction rate. there's no presumption of innocence. they had him sit in a cage and allowed the television cameras to film him sitting in a cage. imagine you saw the richers guy sitting in a cage. what's your reaction to that? you don't want to sit in that cage. one by one by one after he was convicted they went -- these others went toin said what do we have to do to not sit in the
9:47 am
cage? he said 50%. not russian for the government, 50% for putin. he became the richest man in the world. >> so they are feeding him massive amounts of money and they want to make sure they have access to foreign accounts so they can travel and spend and save and invest in the legitimate world. >> and they hold his money for him. if you want to get putin, sanction the top as well. >> so over and over again when the white house issued the statement about young donald trump's meeting they talked about how the discussion with him was about the adoption of russian children. on july 9th he tad the adoption of russian children was the subject. sean spicer talked about the
9:48 am
conversation about the diskugts about adoption. the president said i talked about adoption with putin. kushner in his july 24th said he was talking about the issue of a ban on u.s. adoptions of russian children. to an official a conversation is a conversation about -- >> about the magnitski act. >> so basically -- >> but the -- >> the act was passed. putin retaliated -- >> and the act tis tied to sanctions, right? >> indeed. you're not talking about adoption. nobody was talking about children. >> nobody was talking about adoption.
9:49 am
they were talking about the repeal of sanctions so they could keep their money in america. >> adoption is in effect code for talking about lifting sanctions. >> that's correct. >> is there any reason that anybody in the president's circle should know that? >> i can't speak to their frame of mind. >> could you imagine they would not know that? >> i again, i don't want to put thoughts into anyone else's head but i can say with certainty no one was talking about adoption. >> so you have had to become a sort of sleuth of sorts. you worked with investigators. your book read notice, described some of that investigative work. we have a phrase here, follow the money. how important is it to investigating russian influence operations? >> following the money is the key to all of these types of
9:50 am
operations in. >> >> i'm not sure about tax wi organizations connected to anything -- anything -- any public or any foreign policy objectives of the russians will tell you a lot. just to give you an example we trace -- >> on the other side, if an american has been engaged in such transactions and if he has truthfully filed tax returns then the tax returns would also provide evidence of those connections, would they not? >> presumably if the tax returns are -- >> filed truthfully -- >> have full disclosure then that should be an area of interest. >> in the sentence in which you said that addressing these sanctions was the single most important foreign policy initiative or pursuit of russia, you also mentioned their use of
9:51 am
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? >> well, basically, a lot of the money that comes out of russia is money that's the proceeds of crime. and in all of that money if it's sent in dollars goes through american banks and so we have a great opportunity here to investigate and seize money that's the proceeds of crime and as a national policy i think that we should be -- it should be used much more than it is currently is. >> we should act on that opportunity? >> indeed. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator whitehouse. senator graham? >> i want to thank the ranking member and the chairman for having this meeting. this reads like some kind of a novel that nobody would buy,
9:52 am
because it's got to be fiction but unfortunately maybe it's true. let's break down why you're here. you believe that fusion gps should have registered under fara because they were acting on behalf of the russians? >> that's correct. >> so i want to absorb that for a moment. the group that did the dossier on president trump hired this british spy, wound up getting it to the fbi. you believe they were working for the russians. >> and in the spring an summer of 2016, they were receiving money indirectly from a senior russian government official. >> okay. so these are the people that were trying to undermine donald trump by showing he had nefarious ties to russia, is that what you're saying? >> well, what i'm saying with 100% certainty is that they were working to undermine the magnitsky act and the timing of that --
9:53 am
>> the fusion gps products apparently is they hired a guy to look into trump. >> yes. >> right? >> correct. >> and the guy looking into trump was trying to tell the world that trump's compromised by the russians and i won't go into graphic detail. that was the genesis. have you looked at the report? >> i have not looked at it carefully, no. >> well, that's what's in the dossier. so why is this important? the russians are behind fusion gps who are going after trump. this -- what's the russian lawyer's name? >> natalia veselnitskaya? >> can i just call her natalia? >> you can call her whatever you want. >> okay. she working for the russians too? >> she's definitely working for the russians no question. >> so here's the deal in june of last year. allegedly she is meeting with don jr. and the premise of the meeting was the russian
9:54 am
government's behind trump and you need to meet with these people. they can help your campaign and don jr. said i love it. and they met with this lady. is that the general idea of what happen in june? >> that's apparently what was reported happened in june, yes. >> she's working for the russians. and she's trying to communicate with her oligarch friends that the russians are on trump's side. we got an e-mail to that effect. >> right. yes. >> is it common for russia to play both sides against the middle? >> yes. so what you need to understand about the russians is there is no ideology at all. they're just in the business of vladimir putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere. >> so you have looked at this closer than anybody i know. you believe fusion gps is backed
9:55 am
by the russians, they're trying to find dirt on trump. you believe this russian lawyer natalia is working for the russian, she has been introduced to don jr. by the business partner of the trump's saying that the russian government is behind you. they want to help you. you need to meet with this lady. that's kind of interesting. so wikileaks and the dnc and podesta's e-mail, do you have any doubt it was the russians who actually stole the dnc documents and podesta's e-mails? >> i rely on the 17 intelligence agencies of the united states government -- >> is that something you think they would do? >> of course. the russians will do anything if they can get away with it, even stuff they can't get away with. >> interesting. do you know paul manafort? >> i do not. >> have you ever heard of paul manafort? >> i have. >> he represented russia's puppet in the ukraine. are you familiar with that? >> i am indeed. >> familiar with his profile? >> yes. >> that he was intrickily involved in the putin world.
9:56 am
>> yes. >> do you think russia would see him being campaign chairman for trump as a great opportunity? >> well, i can't imagine that they wouldn't have seen it as a great opportunity if he was intimately connected to their puppet in the ukraine. >> do you think there's any chance at all that that meeting in june that somebody didn't call the russian intelligence services to explain what went on? >> i'm sorry, who's calling -- >> okay. the meeting in trump tower. >> right. >> do you think -- what's the likelihood that that meeting took place and the people in the meeting didn't call the russian intelligence services about how it went? >> well, i can tell you with 100% certainty that the russian intelligence services would have been aware of that meeting in advance as they were plotting it out. they would have -- there would have been weeks spent studying how to best achieve the results of that meeting. >> the purpose of the meeting is not about adoptions but to try to get the trump world friendly
9:57 am
to the idea of repealing the magnitsky act or removing people from the list. >> yes. >> do you believe that's the purpose of the meeting? >> i believe that was the purpose of the meeting. >> i'm 100% certain in the trump world of june 2016 they didn't know that adoptions meant magnitsky act. trust me i don't think they knew that. but it was clear once you get into the meeting what they were actually talking about? >> well, i don't know that anyone's state of mind other than the russians -- >> can you imagine this lady, this russian lawyer not bringing up the magnitsky act? >> she brought up the magnitsky act. that was the only -- that was her main life project. >> do you think the biggest motivation was to make sure that americans can adopt russian children or to repeal the magnitsky act? >> to repeal the magnitsky act. if you follow her twitter feed, she never mentions adoptions once. she mentions me very negatively, many dozens of people. >> one of the people in the room
9:58 am
is known by the russian intelligence services to be friendly to their cause -- manafort. >> correct. >> what's the likelihood that you have one meeting and there's no more follow-up between the russian intelligence service and somebody who would be sympathetic to their cause? >> yeah, i don't know. it all depends on what the other -- so what -- i know what the russians' intentions were. i don't know how the -- those intentions would have been received by the other side. >> we know that don jr. said love the idea of getting help from russia. >> indeed. yes. >> do you think they would have sort of had one meeting and be done with all of this? >> i just don't know. >> if he continued to love the idea of the help. >> i just don't know. all depends on what they offered in the meeting i guess. >> thank you. >> now it's senator hirono. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. browder, you have given us the firsthand insight into
9:59 am
putin's russia. you're directly responsible for the passage of the magnitsky act and i thank you. i join my colleagues in thanking for your courage in appearing today. russia's interference with our election and connections to the trump campaign is a tangled web to say the least. how important do you think it is to our democracy that the mueller investigation continues free from political pressure from the president? >> of course, it's -- i believe based on the intelligence reports that the russians did hack the election and it's crucial to understand if there was any assistance on any part of any american citizen in doing that. so it's crucial. >> does it come as a surprise to you that russian interests were to collect compromising information on someone like candidate trump to gain leverage over that person? >> so the russian -- so vladimir
10:00 am
putin is a former kgb agent as i said there's no such thing as a former kgb agent. there's only present kgb agents. in the kgb, they recruit people with no empathy and no morals and they train them to go out and to influence people with -- using one of two ways. either with bribery or with blackmail and extortion and they figure out what you can bribe somebody with and what people are scared of to extort or blackmail them. that's their modus operandi, so it's entirely plausible that they would have done -- they would have looked at all people who potentially influence leaders in america and try to figure out if they're bribable or extortable. >> that's one of the reasons that sally yates was fired as the acting attorney general raised certain concerns about some of trump's campaign
10:01 am
operatives and their dealings with russia. as you describe this is a modus operandi for the russians to collect incriminating evidence on their targets so that they can gain leverage or control over them. >> this is exactly what they do. there's actually a russian word for it, which means to collect compromising information about the target. and the russians do that on a regular basis. they try -- they do it -- they have been doing it on me for 7 1/2 years. they do it on everybody to try to find some way to influence the people that they want to influence. >> now you mentioned that you have been a target of putin's russia ever since they kicked you out. so is this a daily concern for you that you need to have security and you need to have people who are always alert to your safety and that of your family? >> yes. the russian government has made a number of threats against my life. they threatened me with death
10:02 am
and kidnapping. they have failed three times to have me put on the interpol most wanted list so i can be arrested while traveling. they tried to extradite me from the uk where i live, they sued me for liable. made movies about me. there's 250 people working inside the law enforcement agencies on the bill browder story full-time. trying to destroy me in whatever way they can. >> we learned this morning th that -- it's not just the repeal of the magnitsky act which it is highly unlikely that that would happen, but there would be efforts to try to weaken the act and to figure out ways to get people off the treasury's office of foreign asset control list. so are there things we can do to make sure that that kind of a loophole is not created under the magnitsky act? >> well, i like senator whitehouse's idea of making it non -- when the person is added to the list to make it an act of
10:03 am
congress as opposed to the executive decision to remove them from that list. >> thank you. oh, with regard to the russian government's continuing efforts and miss veselnitskaya's efforts to repeal or weaken the magnitsky act, how did that fit into their broader campaign to interfere in the 2016 election? >> well, the -- it's not clear to me how the two are exactly related. we know what they wanted which was to have the magnitsky act repealed. whether there was any -- perhaps they thought that the probability of that was higher with their preferred candidate than their more preferred candidate than the less preferred candidate. i'm not 100% certain they wouldn't have made the same attempt with the democratic candidate, hillary clinton, if there was any opening or
10:04 am
receptivity 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 try to blackmail anybody. >> you describe a scenario or an environment in which they are totally ruthless in trying to achieve their ends and it doesn't who they work with. if they sense a weakness they will go after that person and try to gain leverage. after you contacted the department of justice regarding fara noncompliance, have you received any updates regarding the complaint you sent to them in july? at the time of the complaint, did you have reason to believe that any of the people involved had met with any campaign people? >> i received no update since july and that we -- and we know for sure that part of the campaign was running around capitol hill. one of their biggest -- one of
10:05 am
the people that they were able to convince to go along with them is a member of the house of representatives from orange county, dana rohrabacher who they have met with on a number of occasions and who has been effectively touting their -- or spreading their propaganda around the house of representatives. >> we had a hearing yesterday about the fara and there's another law called the lobbying disclosure act. have you given any thought to the juxtapositioning of the two laws and how fara registration has dropped since the passage of the lobbying disclosure act? can we make sure that fara remains the important registration act? >> yeah, there's a loophole you can drive a truck through in the lobbying disclosure act which says that you don't have to
10:06 am
register using fara if you're a company. as we have discussed here, there's a number of companies that are effectively acting as proxies of the state and so something needs to be done to close that loophole. >> thank you. >> senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you so much for being here, mr. browder. thank you for uncovering the facts and aim sure i can tell it's difficult to talk about the life and the tragic death of your friend and someone who was your colleague. and i think this story needs to be told. it's been told when the magnitsky act passed. i remember senator mccain taking the floor and senator cardin and others. but it has to be remembered because the only way we're going to change this moving forward and make sure this doesn't happen in america again with our own elections is by telling these stories. and getting to the bottom of the facts. and while a lot had been devoted
10:07 am
to talking about natalia veselnitskaya -- i tried it over lindsey graham's pronunciation there, based on your own experience in russia do you have any comment on the other person attending that meeting, mr. rinat akhmetshin on his background and why do you believe he was in attendance at the meeting? >> yes. so rinat akhmetshin is a former soviet intelligence officer. as i have mentioned several times now, there's no such thing as a former intelligence officer in russia. like the hotel california, you can check out any time you like, but never leave. he became an american citizen. i know people have had in contact with him and he's described on a regular basis as being a shady and shadowy character. untransparent about what he does, by he seems to -- but he seems to have gained the confidence of a lot of people in washington and he has been
10:08 am
effectively a proxy for interests of the russian government here in washington. >> and you talked a lot about -- with other senators about how when you hear that she says she's there to talk about adoption that in fact that was just code for the repeal of the magnitsky act. but i wanted to as the head of the adoption caucus with senator blunt and having been firsthand involved in those issues of when suddenly 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 -- you must know and have contacts with people that have been trying to adopt. >> yeah. well, so let me say that this is one of the most heinous parts of the whole story. as you know, as an adoption expert, they don't let -- the russians never let americans adopt healthy orphans just the sick ones and americans would go
10:09 am
with open arms and open hearts and take in children with hiv, down's syndrome, heart conditions, spina bifida and bring them back to america and nurse them to health and love them and putin was looking for the most sadistic thing he could do and he picked this one, which was effectively what i would describe as a hostage situation. basically, the orphans who are left in russia many times with those -- with those medical issues don't survive. they die. >> and the other tragic part is many of the families including some from my state were in the middle of adopting a second child, the brother or sister of the first one that they already had. and those kids held those photos knowing that their sibling was going to come and join them in america and then they couldn't. >> it's the most heart breaking thing ever on both sides, on the side of the children, on the side of these children who had no future after that, and on the
10:10 am
side of the family who already painted the beds and had the rooms all ready to go. there was -- i can't remember 500 families in the middle of this whole thing. >> to get someone to have that kind of a repercussions and do something that heinous, what is it about this act besides the international embarrassment and the lost money? what do you 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? >> because it affects putin's money personally. he's afraid of losing -- of having his money frozen and seized. that's how they all act, targeted sanctions are a hundred times more upsetting to the russian kleptocracy than broad sanctions. it's very simple because in russia, there's like 1,000 people that have all the money. you don't have to sanction the country, just sanction the individuals but that upsets them profoundly. that's where you end understood
10:11 am
with the huge overreactions like the heart breaking adoption attack. >> exactly. so just in terms of all of this when you get -- when you follow the money, and you -- that's why this is so -- because i think it's hard for people to understand why this meeting would occur. why you have lawyers devoted and people devoted to trying to overturn this act. in fact, this is about money. and senator whitehouse asked some questions about this himself. but are you concerned that the kremlin and their associates may be using shell companies? you talked about banks but i'm very focused on the idea of the shell companies as we try to unravel this and figure out where the assets are. >> yeah. any time you can use anonymous companies to hide beneficial ownership, the russians flock to it. not just the russians but all kleptocrats flock to these places and there's a movement around the world now to make
10:12 am
beneficial ownership fully transparent. as i understand, one of the -- one of the few remaining places in the world where you can actually still be anonymous is in the united states in certain states. so it's an important piece of work to do to make sure that that the u.s. doesn't become a haven for dirty money from places like russia. >> and then my last question, the foreign agents registration act, the subject of this hearing and yesterday i asked the justice department and fbi whether they believe the law should be updated including to respond to advances in technology like social media, since the law was last update and to provide prosecutors with civil investigative demand authority to require suspected fara violators to turn over relevant documents. are there any ways that you think the law could be updated to better respond to what we're clearly dealing with, foreign agents and others trying to influence our laws? >> it's very straightforward to
10:13 am
me which is that if people who haven't registered as foreign agents are convicted, prosecuted and imprisoned then everybody will in the future register as foreign agents. >> very good. i think that's pretty straightforward. i wanted to thank you. i know the senator went through how you have been personally attacked since being willing to come out and make this 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 vladim vladimir merkusa and he was poisoned not once, but twice, and i know your concerns. so thank you. >> senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for being here today. and admiring your courage and
10:14 am
tenacity in the face of evil. i don't think there's any other way to characterize vladimir putin and what he has done both to sergei magnitsky and to countless others in russia and around the world. i want to focus first of all on following the money. when i was a federal prosecutor we sometimes did wiretaps and we overheard mobsters using code words 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
10:15 am
and the promise to them made in e-mails was that they would have damaging information, dirt on donald trump's opponent, hillary clinton. is that a fair summary? >> that's absolutely what has been described. although i would caution you in believing anything that the russians either promise in advance or describe because the russian -- because the russians are liars and so i'm very confident about what they were asking for. i'm not so confident about what was being offered. something was being offered but i wouldn't believe the russians and i wouldn't believe the enticements they'd put in front of them to get the meeting because anything could have been offered in reality. >> is there any doubt in your mind knowing as well as any american how vladimir putin operates that natalia
10:16 am
veselnitskaya was there acting on behalf of vladimir putin and the russian government? >> there's no doubt. >> and is there any doubt in your mind that we're not -- that rinat akhmetshin was aiding her with knowledge about her acting directly on behalf of vladimir putin and the russian government? >> there's no doubt. >> and so when my colleague senator lindsey graham asked you about reporting back to intelligence agencies, these two individuals, veselnitskaya and rinat akhmetshin, they were acting on behalf of vladimir putin in initiating a potential agreement, legally probably a conspiracy, involving donald trump jr. and the others in the meeting? >> that was the intention of the russians.
10:17 am
>> and 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 about that meeting? >> well, if i was sitting in their shoes that's what i would have done but i can't comment on how they chose to construct their lives. >> but it would have been appropriate and proper for someone respecting the national interests of the united states to report to the fbi or some appropriate law enforcement official? >> that would have been my actions. >> in terms of following the money, the russians have a well rehearsed and used playbook, do they not, of building business ties with officials abroad as a first step in co-opting them and in listing them so as to build a financial self-interest on their part. >> well, as i said before, they either use bribery or blackmail
10:18 am
to get people to cooperate with them. so there's many examples of -- of what you're talking about. gerhard schroeder became a big -- the former chancellor of germany became a big advocate for putin and gazprom by getting a large regular payment from gazprom. it's absolutely in their nature to do that for the people who are susceptible to bribery. >> well, if you were in robert mueller's shoes as the special counsel, would you be looking into potential financial ties between members of the trump campaign who are alleged to have conspired with the russians and undermining our democracy and the russians -- those financial ties would certainly be relevant, wouldn't they? >> if i was investigating this
10:19 am
story, i would follow the money as a first step in any investigation. >> so you would be looking into financial connections and relationships between people involved in the trump campaign 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? >> so any time we're involved -- i have been involved for the 7 1/2 years in tracing the money from the crime that sergei magnitsky was killed over and every -- in all of the work that we have done we have always traced the money. if we somebody that we believe is suspicious, we see where the financial flows go to them. it's sort of an obvious first step in any investigation to look at business ties, money and connections. >> and veselnitskaya and akhmetshin also in terms of
10:20 am
following the money used various representatives here in addition to themselves, did they not? >> they did. they used glenn simpson from fusion gps, ron dellins, the potomac square group, all u.s.-based, washington, d.c.-based firms. >> would they likely have knowledge about the issues that we're discussing and would you recommend the committee hear from them? >> indeed. >> you mentioned i think uri shaykha, the prosecutor in the moscow area in his e-mail to donald trump jr., rod goldstone claims that the information he has that could harm hillary clinton's campaign would come from the crown prosecutor of
10:21 am
russia. there is no such position as crown prosecutor. it's widely assumed that goldstone was referring to uri -- the prosecutor general and a close ally of vladimir putin. are you familiar with him? >> yeah. uri chai ka is one of the people most compromised by the magnitsky affair and he was also deeply involved with veselnitskaya working hand in glove with her on this whole initiative that they had launched in america and not just in terms of donald trump jr., but in terms of lobbying congress. >> and again following the money he would have a financial interest as well as a political interest in the magnitsky act, would he not? >> well, he's a potential magnitsky designee person who should be targeted under the magnitsky act. and given that he and his family
10:22 am
are very wealthy people, they would potentially be very exposed to being added to the magnitsky list. >> and finally, natalia veselnitskaya was not just any russian picked from a crowd. she was vladimir putin's point person in trying to repeal the magnitsky act. his prime foreign policy interest, correct? >> that's how i see it. >> thank you. >> senator durbin? >> thank you, mr. browder. are you familiar with mchale fridman of alpha bank? >> i am. >> what do you know about him? >> he's one of the original 22 oligarchs who became rich in russia from banking oil, telecommunications and other businesses. >> you say that in the year 2003 when vladimir putin decided to make a -- or have a show trial
10:23 am
with mr. core acoversky it was a thinly veiled message to the oligarchs, either play ball with me or you'll sit in a cage like he did? >> yes. >> and then vladimir putin is reported to have flown to london to either celebrate or note the merger of mchale fridman's oil company with british petroleum. are you familiar with that? >> very much so, yeah. >> and mr. fridman now is involved in so many different business dealings. i tried to do some research on him and it's voluminous, and the different 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
10:24 am
was true. >> i have only -- i only know about that from what i have read in the press and what i have read in the press it's -- it doesn't -- it's not enough information for me to make any judgment. >> let me ask you, based on what you know about this background that you just described to me though 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? >> yeah. well, i would basically say that in russian oligarch i wouldn't single out alpha bank. i would include all major russian oligarchs should be dealt with extreme caution because their wealth is totally dependent on their relationship with vladimir putin. >> so let me tell you why i asked the question. we have a man who wants to be the head of the criminal division of the department of justice, mr. bet cowsky who had alpha bank as a client after the
10:25 am
election of donald trump and after he had served on the transition team. the landing team i think they called them, when it came to the department of justice. it raised a lot of red flags from where i'm sitting as to why he would make such a poor decision. if he were seeking to be part of our government and then complicated by the fact that he said he would not disqualify or recuse himself from investigations into russian involvement in the last campaign. i just -- the more i read about this mr. fridman he apparently is one of the most -- one of the wealthiest oligarchs in russia, a billionaire. and his bank the alpha bank which mr. bit cowsky represented through his law firm raises a question in my mind. am i overreacting or what is your thought about this? >> as i said before, i think that any russian oligarch should
10:26 am
be dealt with extreme caution. it all depends on the ethics of this individual whether he -- whether -- i mean, i don't know his loyalties to his former client, so it would be wrong for me to make any judgment about it. >> understood. understood. can you sort out -- i'm trying to piece together a few things here and the steel dossier, i'm trying to understand it as it repeats to fusion gps. can you put it into perspective as to their role and what that dossier, why it was created and what the people who created it hoped to achieve. >> i only know about the steel dossier and the -- and this whole thing from what i have read in the press. so i have no -- you know, i'm just a bystander in that part of the story. what i am absolutely familiar with on a firsthand basis is fusion gps and glenn simpson's role working on behalf of the russian government working to
10:27 am
overturn the magnitsky act. there i think the steps they took very much compromised their integrity. >> but you're saying you don't know any connection between fusion gps and the actual creation or dissemination or the use of the steel dossier? >> i do not. >> is that correct? >> that's correct. >> let me back up what senator blumenthal has said, this june meeting with mr. donald trump jr. and paul manafort and others really raises extraordinary questions about what the russians were trying to achieve with that meeting. do you have any other indications of meetings that took place -- similar meetings involving the trump campaign or family? >> i know nothing about any other meetings with the trump campaign or family. i do know that the russians were all over capitol hill and here in congress trying to get meetings with members of congress to try to make the same
10:28 am
type of pitch. unsuccessfully in the end, but they were here en masse. >> well, i'm going to cut my questions at this point. thank you for coming here and i deeply regret what has happened to mr. magnitsky who was trying his best to resolve the challenge that they put in your path and i joined with my colleagues in the creation of the sanctions. i have my own stories about russia and mr. putin to tell, based on my baltic heritage. but i do believe that the case is solid and i thank you for your courage in coming before us today. >> thank you. >> that ends our first round. i have two questions for the second round and i know senator whitehouse does and if the others have questions, i'll call on you. i'm going to read the last question you answered so you
10:29 am
don't have to answer its again but i want you to know that i had a follow-up to that. >> sure. >> so the question you answered, did you meet anyone from the justice department when you filed your fara complaint in 2016, if so, who initiated that meeting? you or them? did the justice department ever follow up with you on information that you provided in your complaint and the appendices or let you know they had acted on the complaint? so my follow-up is, did you have any indication that it was being actively investigated or taken seriously and why do you think nothing was done when you first filed your complaint about the propaganda campaign? >> i have no indication that anything is being done, but i also don't have any indication that nothing is being done. having said that, i have worked with law enforcement on other issues here in the united states and in connection with the magnitsky case. when we do work with law
10:30 am
enforcement, if something is being done, we -- there's a -- we tend to see a different type of interaction than when something is not being done. so my assumption is that nothing is being done here. but i can't say that definitively because i'm not sitting in their shoes. >> sure. now, last question, the human rights foundation submitted a written statement to our committee alleging that fusion manipulated the media to smear whistle-blowers who had uncovered a massive corruption scheme involving the government of venezuela. in that statement, they urged the committee to probe fusion's activity in particular fusion's quote -- willing the quote -- fusion's willingness to pay journalist in exchange for the publication of business smears, end of quote. do you know or have any reason to suspect that fusion may have engaged in pay for play tactics
10:31 am
directly or indirectly offering money to journalists to run stories that benefit their clients? >> i don't have any hard evidence to present in that area. but i suspect that a number of journalists and one in particular here in washington was operating so far outside the bounds of normal journalistic integrity there must have been some incentive for them to be doing it coming from fusion gps. >> okay. so senator whitehouse? >> thank you, chairman. this has been a great hearing and i appreciate it. fusion gps is a firm that does opposition research for clients on a case by case basis, sort of like a lawyer taking up a client and at the end of the job they separate, correct? >> i don't know whether -- i don't know their sort of overall practice. i only know their practice in the situation that i'm involved in. >> in your case, they took on
10:32 am
russian interests as a client and the task was to apply pressure and opposition research and so forth to try to undo or defeat the magnitsky act. >> that's correct. >> with respect to fusion gps having commissioned the steel dossier, do you know who the client was for that particular task? >> i do not. >> you have no evidence that the russians had any involvement in commissioning that particular document? >> no. >> okay. quick point. you mentioned that the russians either use bribery or blackmail. once they have got a business person in a foreign country where they want to exert influence enmeshed in a bribery scheme, are they perfectly willing to use the threat of blackmail about their own
10:33 am
bribery scheme against that individual? >> oh, absolutely, of course. i mean, effectively the moment that you enter into their world you become theirs. >> they got you both ways, with the carrot of continued bribery and the stick of exposure and blackmail if -- >> 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
10:34 am
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 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. so they like the money and commit their crimes and kill the people -- >> in the corrupt world. >> in the legitimate world. >> with the rule of law and with
10:35 am
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. 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 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, someone needs a legal defense and they're their
10:36 am
justification for working for the most heinous people on the plan 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? >> 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?
10:37 am
>> 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 interested in your story and your recommendation. i want to come back to uri chaika, but a 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
10:38 am
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. >> 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
10:39 am
information and that would be my impression. >> but you have had a lot of 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
10:40 am
accepted and then it would have ended up in many future meetings. >> he was looking for a sign that the trump campaign was open 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, any other information that might be available to the special
10:41 am
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're 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
10:42 am
they can no longer transact business with anybody so effectively they become a financial leper, financial pariah once they get 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 -- >> 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
10:43 am
ofac division to say that the magnitsky sanctions are being evaded by certain people on the 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.
10:44 am
>> 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? >> 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 ill legitimate 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 without properly declaring them or getting permission to receive them. that would have been the kind of fact that the russians could
10:45 am
hold over him and they would, correct? >> i don't know the consequences of that. if there are real consequences to him of that, then that's a -- sort of a stereotype example of compromising somebody to get control over them. >> and if for example there were projects to build hotels or office buildings 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
10:46 am
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. night and my wifed
10:47 am
said, you don't seem yourself. i said


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on