President Donald J. Trump first met Sergey N. Gorkov in 2013 during the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia. The pageant’s sponsor was Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and led by its deputy chairman, Gorkov. He is chairman of the state-owned Vnesheconombank (Veb), Putin’s personal “slush fund.”
In July 2014, the United States and European Union put sanctions on Veb in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In 2015, the Russian government bailed out Veb for $20 billion. Veb covertly funds pro-Russian groups in Ukraine.
Yevgeny Buryakov worked for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and also was a New York-based deputy representative of Veb. He was convicted of spying and deported in March 2017 after serving 30 months in a federal prison.
In May 2016, a member of Buryakov’s spy ring may have recruited Carter Page, who later became a foreign policy adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. On June 9, 2016, Russian government lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and other Russian officials met with Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and others to get sanctions relief by weakening the Magnitsky Act.
William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He discussed the Magnitsky Act and the Foreign Agent Registration Act. The U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act as a result of the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Browder’s lawyer, who exposed corruption by Putin.The Act puts sanctions on Putin and his top cronies and freezes their assets around the world.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators need to find out what favors, if any, Donald Jr., Kushner and others in the campaign took in return for promising the Russians a weakened Magnitsky Act. He has to find out if President Trump was aware and part of this potential collusion.