If you’ve been wondering why Republicans have been so silent amid the growing Trump Russia scandal, this looks like a pretty good explanation.
An article in Dallas News suggests that Russian money may be a factor.
According to the Federal Elections Commission and OpenSecrets.Org, Ukrainian-born oligarch Leonid “Len” Blavatnik, contributed $7.35 million under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and A1 Altep Holdings, to:
Trump Inaugural Committee ($1 million). It is notable that Access Industries and A1 Altep Holdings share an address just across the street from Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York City.
Political Action Committees:
- Sen. Mitch McConnell ($2.5 million)
- Sen. Marco Rubio ($1.5 million)
- Sen. Lindsay Graham ($800,000)
- Sen. John McCain ($200,000)
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich ($250,000)
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ($1.1 million)
Blavatnik is a business partner of two of Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.
Blavatnik, who holds dual citizenship in the United Kingdom and the United States, has close ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is part of Putin’s inner circle. As reported in the New York Times, Deripaska has ties to Paul Manafort and unsuccessfully sought immunity from congressional committees investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election.
Deripaska is the founder and majority holder of RUSAL, the second largest aluminum company in the world. Blavatnik owns a large stake in the company and served on its Board of Directors until November 10, 2016 – two days after the election of Donald Trump. His resignation was published on RUSAL’s company website with a note in all caps: NOT FOR RELEASE, PUBLICATION OR DISTRIBUTION IN OR INTO THE UNITED STATES.
The Dallas News article goes on to report that Blavatnik’s co-owner in RUSAL is Viktor Vekselberg, who also shares close ties with Putin. Blavatnik and Vekselberg have a 15.8 percent joint stake in the company under the name of Sual Partners, an offshore company located in the Bahamas.
Veselberg is the largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. Coincidentally, Dmitry Rybolovlev, another Russian oligarch cozy with Putin, owns a 3.3 percent stake in the bank of Cyprus. He is the individual who purchased Trump’s Palm Beach never-lived-in estate for $54 million more than Trump paid for it. The estate was eventually torn down without Rybolovlev ever setting foot in the place.
Add to the mix that the aforementioned Deripaska ran into financial trouble back in 2009 and Putin, who is chair of the advisory board of Vnesheconombank (VEB), rode to the rescue, funding a $4.5 billion emergency loan to bail him out.
VEB is now facing big problems due to the sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe in 2014, which cut off access to almost $4 billion in hard currency loans that are due to mature in 2018. Russian currency reserves are approaching a 10-year low; and Sergey Gorkov, president of VEB, is under pressure to find alternative resources. Gorkov met secretly with Jared Kushner in the previously undisclosed meeting in December at Trump Tower.
Where there’s smoke …