Investigations of Trump Administration Ties to Russia Is Now a Family Affair

As you may recall, Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, was one of the members of the Trump administration who had a secret meeting with Russian envoy Sergey Kislyak. Kushner's meeting with Kislyak was taken with disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn: It was the December meeting for which Kislyak was seemingly snuck in through a secondary entrance in order to evade press attention.

Now, according to a new report in the New York Times, the Senate Intelligence Committee would like to have a chat with Kushner "about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak," after it was discovered that Kushner had a second, undisclosed meeting with Kislyak.
Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner... Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak's request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which the United States placed on its sanctions list after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.
Vnesheconombank is Russia's state-owned economic development bank, "whose supervisory board is controlled by members of Mr. Putin's government, including Prime Minister Dimitri A. Medvedev."

Naturally, I was curious to find out what ties Vnesheconombank may have to other members of the Trump administration, and I found this article from January 2010, innocuously headlined: "Russians circle Ukraine group."

It's a story about how Vnesheconombank financed a takeover of one of Ukraine's struggling steel groups, right in the middle of a Ukrainian election.

Ruben Vardanian, the chair of Troika Dialog, a Moscow investment bank which was the financial advisor on the deal, is quoted as saying: "The deal is aimed at realising a strategy of consolidating metals assets across the territory of the [former Soviet Union] and could potentially lead to an expansion of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine."

"Cooperation" is an interesting word. The piece also notes: "Analysts said the deal is also evidence of Russia's bid to expand its industrial grip over former Soviet Union countries."

Guess who won that election a month later? The pro-Putin Viktor Yanukovych.

The same Viktor Yanukovych for whom both Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Sanders chief strategist Tad Devine worked. In fact, Manafort and Devine were consultants for Yanukovych during that election.

So, seven years ago, a Russian state-owned bank announced a month before a Ukrainian election that it would finance a deal that stood to influence the outcome of that election. The candidate who won had on his campaign staff a man who would go on to become the campaign chair of a U.S. president, whose son-in-law is now under investigation because of a secret meeting with the chief of that bank.

Meanwhile, that same U.S. president has been silent as Russia bears down on Ukraine.

Maybe all of that is a coincidence. Maybe it's not.

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