Monday, October 23, 2017

Lindsey Graham can't figure it out

Late 2013 was a particularly good time for peculiar and damaging interactions with women one doesn't know in the Ritz Carlton Moscow. If you've never heard this story from December 2013, you should.

Sadly, no, Nordlinger's piece doesn't explain it at all, it's mostly National Review harrumphing, though I wouldn't disagree with that part of the message.

Browder is, as you remember, the old-Russia-hand investor (the grandson of Earl Browder, who was secretary general of the Communist Party USA during the Great Depression and World War II) who made an enormous fortune out of the privatization of the former Soviet economy in the 1990s, fell out with Putin and the oligarchs, and was subjected to various indignities, banned from entering Russia (he lives in London, having given up his US citizenship in 1998, I'm sorry to say, to avoid US taxes), his business offices raided and employees harassed and arrested, companies he owned outright stolen, and $230 million in tax payments from his companies to the Russian state robbed, upon which his Russian lawyer, Sergey Magnitsky, was arrested, imprisoned, tortured—authorities were trying to make him confess that he'd stolen the $230 million himself, on Browder's orders—and beaten to death.

This seems to have had a kind of transformative effect on Browder, who started devoting himself to the cause of punishing those responsible for Magnitsky's killing and the other Putin-era crimes, most notably by pushing the US Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which denied some involved individuals (originally 18, now up to 44)  entry into the US and access to the US banking system. Nobody up around Putin's level is on that list—what enrages him, apparently, is the disrespect it shows him as head of state and—but his reactions have included the halting of the adoption program in which US couples adopted Russian orphan children; the various intrigues of Natal'ya Veselnitskaya including that infamous Trump Tower meeting with Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr.; and now an attempt to charge Bill Browder with murdering Magnitsky himself:

Prosecutors contend that Mr. Browder had colluded with an agent of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6, “to cause the death of S. L. Magnitsky,” by persuading Russian prison doctors to withhold care.
The motive, according to what prosecutors said were intelligence intercepts, was to start a scandal, or “a significant news trigger to discredit the Russian Federation in the eyes of the international community.”
While they were about it, the prosecutors used the so-called intercepts, written in grammatically flawed English, to wrap into the plot two other Kremlin nemeses — Grigory A. Yavlinsky and Aleksei A. Navalny, prominent Russian opposition politicians. The supposed scheme was called Operation Quake.
The prosecutors say that Mr. Browder was assigned the code name Agent Solomon by Western intelligence, while Mr. Navalny was called Agent Freedom.
Which is where Browder's US visa comes in; the Russian government has been issuing "Red Alerts" calling for Browder's arrest to Interpol, which have been rejected by Interpol itself and ignored by all the member states, since the whole thing is obviously nonsense, except this time—using what's called a "diffusion notice" which enables them to bypass Interpol's internal controls—the US State Department has apparently reacted to it, by retracting Browder's visa.

And that's just weird. Though maybe not so weird in the context of other news about Trump-Russia, which is that the Emperor still hasn't allowed the new sanctions on Russia over their interference in the 2016 election to go forward, though he signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act on August 2, that's like 11 weeks ago, and has given no response to a letter from Senators McCain and Cardin asking him to share his plans on the sanctions by October 1, or three weeks ago. "They have a blind spot on Russia I still can't figure out," Lindsey Graham told Chuck Todd yesterday.

Oh, and he's also been working to discredit the Steele dossier this weekend in his usual Twitter mix. I don't think it's hard to figure out what he's up to at all. I think it's Graham who's got the blind spot, very carefully installed.

Trump is doing his best to keep his end of the bargain he made with Vladimir Vladimirovich in the summer of 2016, in all the ways, like refusing to faithfully execute the law (as I hope they'll put it in the impeachment trial, on this subject and the Affordable Care Act) and messing with Bill Browder's freedom of travel. And he is certain, and terrified, that if Putin thinks he is naughty we'll all be watching that video of the romp in the Ritz Carlton Moscow in November 2013.

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