September 28, 2018 8:27 am -

In the event you have not noticed, Russiagate is still, as Joe Biden would say, a BFD. As the late, great Mark Felt once said, “Follow the money.” It always leads to people like Simon Kukes.

A Russian-born American businessman who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Donald Trump’s run for president in 2016 offered to brief a high-ranking Russian official during the final months of the campaign, according to a series of emails reviewed by NBC News.

The businessman, Simon Kukes, a Houston-based oil executive, sent an email to the official in Moscow in July 2016, boasting of his connections to the Trump campaign and requesting a face-to-face meeting.

“I have been actively involved in Trump’s election campaign, and am part of the group on strategy development,” Kukes wrote in the email to Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former Russian ambassador to Norway. “I will be in Switzerland July 20th till August 2nd. Let me know how you are doing, and whether you want to meet.”

NBC News and The Guardian broke the story simpltaneously. The Guardian adds:

Kukes said that he would be in Switzerland from 20 July until 2 August, and asked Pavlovsky if he wanted to meet there. Kukes emailed again a week later, saying he would like to introduce Pavlovsky to a “close friend”, a Moscow oil executive, “who has just flown in”.

They were discussing “very interesting projects for Russia and the US”, he wrote, adding: “I hope one of them will materialise.”

Pavlovsky had just left Russia’s foreign ministry and had begun a job as vice-president of Russian Railways, a powerful state entity previously headed by Vladimir Yakunin, one of Vladimir Putin’s close KGB allies. The ex-ambassador said he could not meet because of work commitments. He signed off: “Hugs.”

Here’s a fun fact: Kukes has ties to Russian oligarchs Leonard Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg!

Simon Kukes is an oil magnate who has something in common with Intrater. From 1998 to 2003, he worked for Vekselberg and Blavatnik as chief executive of TNK. Redacted CIA documents released in 2003 under the Freedom of Information Act said “TNK president Kukes said that he bribed local officials.” The CIA confirmed the authenticity of the reports to The Guardian newspaper but would not comment further. In 2016, Kukes contributed a total of $283,000, much of it to the Trump Victory Fund. He had no significant donor history before last year’s election.

The revelations in all three stories lead one to conclude that Kukes’s dealings are yet another dot that connects the Trump campaign with Russian collusion — and that he may have much more to tell if he were, say, subpoenaed by one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand juries. Developing hard…

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.