While Anthony Scaramucci Was Imploding, Lawmakers Heard Explosive Testimony in Russia Probe

One of the most important congressional hearings yet in the Trump-Russia probe took place Wednesday, in the midst of one of President Donald Trump’s most chaotic weeks yet.


Bill Browder — once the biggest portfolio investor in Russia but now a leading critic of Vladimir Putin — told the Senate Judiciary Committee how the Russian president needs to lift U.S. sanctions to deliver what he promised to corrupt oligarchs who support his rule, reported Huffington Post.

“There are approximately 10,000 officials in Russia working for Putin who are given instructions to kill, torture, kidnap, extort money from people and seize their property,” Browder testified.

Browder and his attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, blew the whistle on a scam by corrupt Russian officials to steal one of his companies and then illegally claimed back $230 million taxes he’d paid.

U.S. imposed sanctions in 2012 against some Putin cronies involved in the attorney’s death, which a Russian attorney asked Donald Trump to lift in exchange for campaign assistance offered to his son and other top campaign officials.

“Before the Magnitsky Act, Putin could guarantee them impunity and this system of illegal wealth accumulation worked smoothly,” Browder testified. “However, after the passage of the Magnitsky Act, Putin’s guarantee disappeared.”

Putin himself has suffered great consequences under the Magnitsky Act, the hedge fund manager told lawmakers, because the Panama Papers show Putin received some of the money stolen from the scheme exposed by Magnitsky.

“Based on the language of the Magnitsky Act, this would make Putin personally subject to Magnitsky sanctions,” Browder testified.

“This is particularly worrying for Putin, because he is one of the richest men in the world,” he continued. “I estimate that he has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power.”

Browder then dropped the hammer, just hours after Trump surprisingly announced a ban on transgender service members.

“(Putin) keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation,” Browder testified. “Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.”

The testimony received less coverage than other hearings, in part because Browder is more obscure than previous witnesses — but also because it came after Trump’s wild speech to Boy Scouts and a day ahead of a profane rant by communications chief Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci was fired on Monday.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.