Former Russian Trump aide seeks immunity deal to testify before Congress: NYT
Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, who once had close ties to President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, has offered to talk to the congressional committees investigating Trump’s Russia ties. He’s seeking full immunity to aid in the investigation.
A Friday New York Times report revealed Oleg V. Deripaska is an aluminum magnate and a member of the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Three different Congressional officials revealed that they received this request, but said that doing so might complicate any federal criminal investigations.
Deripaska has offices in New York, but has had troubles traveling to the U.S. over the last several years due to what the government believes are ties to organized crime. According to court documents, the eight meetings he had in the U.S. between 2011 and 2014 were related to the United Nations and the G-20, not due to his businesses.
The court documents were part of a lawsuit from Russian-born businessman Alexander Gliklad, who accused Deripaska of using his diplomatic status to do business in the country. Deripaska denied it but Gliklad demanded the funds he was owed from a lawsuit settlement with Deripaska. The New York Supreme Court even got involved and ruled that they have jurisdiction over Deripaska.
Deripaska seems desperate for immunity. Prior to reaching out to the Congressional committees, he took out newspaper ads saying he was willing to participate in the hearings and investigations into Manafort, Trump and ties to Russia. An Associated Press report alleged Manafort gave him a plan in 2005 that outlined steps to “greatly benefit the Putin government” by influencing politics and news in the United States. Deripaska denied having anything to do with the agreement. Manafort denied he worked for Deripaska, rather his work was for the Russian government.
The Times said that the FBI doesn’t seem to have any interest in Deripaska as part of the investigation. However, his travel to the U.S. is curious because it came after the FBI withdrew from a secret deal that would have allowed Deripaska to enter the U.S. In 2008, the FBI arranged for him to have a special visa, despite objections from the State Department. The agreement turned out not to be helpful to the FBI.
Deripaska has investments in the US that total millions, including properties in Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side, as well as a 50 percent stake in a Russian-language newspaper out of New York. He also has an investment in a hedge fund run by former World Bank president James Wolfensohn.