July 26, 2017 8:32 pm -

We begin with a hat tip to Twitter’s Andrew Laufer, one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights attorneys. Here’s just a taste of the article:

In Russia, your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and even though I’ve never met Putin, he would often step into my battles with the oligarchs and crack down on them.

That all changed in July 2003, when Putin arrested Russia’s biggest oligarch and richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Putin grabbed Khodorkovsky off his private jet, took him back to Moscow, put him on trial, and allowed television cameras to film Khodorkovsky sitting in a cage right in the middle of the courtroom. That image was extremely powerful, because none of the other oligarchs wanted to be in the same position.

After Khodorkovsky’s conviction, the other oligarchs went to Putin and asked him what they needed to do to avoid sitting in the same cage as Khodorkovsky. From what followed, it appeared that Putin’s answer was, “Fifty percent.” He wasn’t saying 50 percent for the Russian government or the presidential administration of Russia, but 50 percent for Vladimir Putin personally.

From that moment on, Putin became the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world, and my anti-corruption activities would no longer be tolerated.

Those are the words of financier Bill Browder – his prepared statement released in conjunction with an appearance that was scheduled to take place earlier today before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about Foreign Agents Registration Act enforcement (and by extension the Magnitsky Act). His full statement has been published by The Atlantic – and is shocking in its description of the rampant kleptocracy, suppression, and homicide orchestrated by Vladimir Putin, and elucidates Putin’s outright fear of President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Browder’s testimony, however, has been postponed:

The hearing was cut short before the sole witness likely to opine publicly on aspects of the Trump-Russia controversy, New York investor Bill Browder, had the chance to testify. Democrats invoked a Senate rule Wednesday barring committees from meeting more than two hours after the Senate went into session.

As a result, the Judiciary Committee hearing was cut off after 90 minutes. Grassley said the panel will reconvene at 9 A.M. Thursday to hear from Browder, who has become a crusader against Russian influence in the U.S. after his Russian lawyer died under suspicious circumstances in a Moscow prison in 2009.

The death of Browder’s attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, led Congress to pass the sanctions law that the Russian government allies reportedly complained about at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Another witness once summoned for Wednesday’s hearing, private investigator Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, was also scratched from the witness list after reaching an agreement for a private interview. Simpson has come under fire for his role in circulating a dossier that made unsubstantiated claims about salacious information the Russians were said to have on then-candidate Donald Trump.

“Since March 2017, I’ve been asking about the Russians who were working with Fusion GPS to smear Mr. Browder and undermine the Magnitsky Act,” Grassley said. “Did the FBI know that Fusion pitched propaganda for the Russians even as it pushed the dossier?”

Fusion issued a statement saying it was being attacked because it surfaced concerns about Trump’s Russian contacts.

“Let’s be clear about what’s really happening: The President’s political allies are targeting Fusion GPS because the firm was reported to be the first to raise the alarm over the Trump campaign’s links to Russia,” the company said.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.