“The Russians were involved on both sides.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News and CNN that the Senate Judiciary Committee learned from Bill Browder, the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital, that Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier that contained false information about President Donald Trump, also worked for the Russians. He said:
“What we learned today is that the Russians were behind the organization that tried to get dirt on Trump. The dossier against Donald Trump was created by Fusion GPS and their organization and, guess what, the Russians were helping them. This man said the Russians were behind Fusion GPS.
We all know that the Russians hacked into the DNC and John Podesta’s email. And we now know that the Russian lawyer that met with Donald Trump, Jr., Manafort, and others was actually working for the Russians, too.
So they’re trying to play both sides against the middle and I hope the country wakes up to the threat Russia presents to us all.”
Graham Questions Browder
GRAHAM: You believe that Fusion GPS should have registered under FARA because they were acting on behalf of the Russians?
BROWDER: That’s correct.
GRAHAM: 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.
BROWDER: And in the spring and summer of 2016, they [Fusion GPS] were receiving money indirectly from a senior Russian government official.
GRAHAM: 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?
BROWDER: Well, what I’m saying with 100% certainty is that they were working to undermine the Magnitsky Act.
Then Graham brings up lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya:
GRAHAM: Is she working for the Russians?
BROWDER: She is definitely working for the Russians. No question about it.
GRAHAM: So here’s the deal in June of last year. Allegedly she is meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., and the premise of the meeting was the Russian government’s behind Trump and you need to meet with these people. They can help your campaign and Trump says I love it and they met with this lady. Is that the general idea what happened last June?
BROWDER: That’s apparently what was reported happened in June.
GRAHAM: So she’s working for the Russians and she’s trying to communicate with her oligarch friends that the Russians are on Trump’s side. Got an email to that effect.
BROWDER: Right. Yes.
GRAHAM: Is it common for Russia to play both sides against the middle?
BROWDER: Yes. What you need to understand about the Russians is there is no ideology at all. They’re just in the business, Vladimir Putin, is in the business of trying to create chaos.
GRAHAM: You’ve looked at this closer than anybody I know. You believe Fusion GPS is actually backed by the Russians. They’re trying to find dirt on Trump. You believe this Russian lawyer Natalia is working for the Russians, she has been introduced to Don, Jr., by a business partner of the Trumps, saying the Russian government’s behind you, they want to help you, you need to meet with this lady. That’s kind of interesting.
Graham then asked Browder if he thinks the Russians hacked into the DNC and Podesta’s emails. Browder said he trusted the American intelligence emails, but admitted that he thinks that’s something the Russians would do.
Browder also expressed that he is 100% certain that the meeting was to persuade Trump to either eliminate the Magnitsky Act or to take people off the list.
Graham Also Relayed the Findings to CNN
Graham reiterated these points to CNN. From Mediaite:
In a conversation with CNN’s Manu Raju, Graham said the Russians were “clearly working both sides” since they set up an a research body to find dirt on Trump while simultaneously offering assistance through lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Graham made his point while noting Paul Manafort‘s connections to Russia, as well as the indication Donald Trump Jr. put forward about how his father’s campaign was willing to accept assistance from foreign actors.
“The likelihood that, that was the last contact needs to be looked into, because the Trump Campaign expressed the desire to be helped,” said Graham. In terms of Veselnitskaya’s connection to Fusion GPS, Graham said it was important to investigate whether they came across any information that could compromise the president.
“The Russians were involved on both sides. They definitely tried to tip the scale against Clinton and for Trump, but the Fusion GPS organization that was trying to get the goods on Donald Trump was backed by the Russians. To me, this just shows you how deep the Russians are into our democracy and if you are Republican and you are Democrat, if you don’t get…the point I was trying to make, it’s a dangerous mistake because they are trying to screw up our elections and our democracy on both sides of the aisle.”
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