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This Russian oligarch reportedly bragged of his US influence after Trump’s election — and he has a direct tie to Michael Cohen

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- Commentary

Viktor Vekselberg is among the Russian oligarchs that Michael Cohen came into contact with during his years as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney. The 61-year-old Ukraine-born Vekselberg has had business and political contacts in the U.S. for decades—and after the 2016 presidential election, reportedly bragged about his ties to the Trump Organization.

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“Soon,” Bloomberg News reports in a new article, “Trump would be in the White House, and Vekselberg would be privately boasting of having the pull needed to help achieve the sanctions relief the Kremlin was craving.”

But sanctions relief, according to Bloomberg, is the last thing Vekselberg experienced after Trump was sworn in as president—and his U.S. activities have cost him billions of dollars in the Trump era.

Bloomberg quotes former Pentagon official Michael Carpenter as saying that Vekselberg “was deeply implicated in efforts to influence leaders and politicians here in the U.S.” And his interactions with American politicians and businesspeople caught the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

After being questioned by Mueller’s team in March 2018 as part of the Russiagate probe, Vekselberg was hit with stiff sanctions—and according to Bloomberg, Vekselberg has since “lost about $3 billion of his-now $13.4 billion fortune, mainly due to declines in the market values of his minority stakes” in Swiss companies and the aluminum company RUSAL (for which fellow oligarch Oleg Deripaska served as president).

Vekselberg’s financial woes, Bloomberg reports, also include an “estimated $2 billion or more of stocks and cash that have been frozen or tied up in banks as a result of the U.S. penalties.”

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Before being banned from the U.S., Vekselberg had a green card and spent a lot of time pursuing American businesspeople and politicians—both Democrat and Republican. The politicians Vekselberg reached out to, according to Bloomberg, ranged from former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

When Mueller’s team questioned Vekselberg in March, Bloomberg reports, they wanted to know all about his connection to Michael Cohen—including hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of payments his company’s United States affiliate made to the former Trump attorney.

Cohen is awaiting sentencing for federal crimes that he has confessed to. On August 22, Cohen pled guilty to a total of eight crimes ranging from bank fraud and tax fraud to campaign finance violations. And recently, Cohen also pled guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s real estate projects in Moscow. Cohen is now cooperating fully in Mueller’s probe.

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Vekselberg, who was born in Ukraine in 1957, is the owner of the Russian conglomerate Renova Group—and even with the sanctions, he remains one of the richest people in Russia.


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‘Rather than leading — he lies’: MSNBC panel says Trump is a ‘danger to the country’ because he can’t be trusted

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MSNBC commentators, former assistant US Attorney Maya Wiley and Rick Wilson, explained that President Donald Trump's most significant barrier is making it past his own lies to save America from the coronavirus.

"There's a case tonight being tested in Walton County, Florida. The heart of Trump country," said Wilson, referring to the panhandle county east of Pensacola. "That's not going to be something you can just walk away from if it turns out to be a real case. We're seeing these things popping up all over. The safe bet was always to say, 'This could be bad. We'll do everything we can to stop it.' But he can't stop himself from self-aggrandizing and lying about things. And it's actually -- setting aside my normal criticism of Trump -- this is a danger to the country that he is not a trustworthy person for the American people. Even people who like him now he BS's them all the time. Now, if he says it's not a problem and people are being hospitalized, it is a problem."

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Trump ‘just wants this problem to go away’: President desperate to get coronavirus ‘off his plate’

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President Donald Trump is desperate for the coronavirus problem to go away, and he doesn't exactly care how it happens.

According to New York Times reporter Annie Karni, sources are telling her that the biggest concern Trump has is more about the markets than the deaths of Americans from the virus.

"First, let's establish, this is a president who tried to change science with a Sharpie when it came to hurricane path prediction," said MSNBC host Brian Williams. "That picture lasts forever."

"Even his allies on Fox and his allies outside the White House were kind of channeling to that proverbial audience of one that this was a great opportunity to look presidential and to tell the facts," said Karni. The Donald Trump we saw out there in the briefing room was very casual, kind of left the facts to the other people that accompanied him out there. But he clearly publicly and privately just wants this problem to go away. He wants to downplay it. He thinks -- he has called people who are talking about fears about it alarmist. He doesn't want to be alarmist, and he's kind of holding on to any comment that makes it sound like this will naturally be a problem that is removed from his plate. That's what we saw publicly, and that's what he's been saying privately as well."

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Seth Meyers: You know Trump isn’t the chief law enforcement officer because he couldn’t pass the physical

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"Late Night" host Seth Meyers warned that the United States is sliding into authoritarianism under President Donald Trump.

Sounding the alarm Wednesday evening, Meyers cited reports that Trump was making lists of disloyal people, purging them from their jobs, hiring unqualified cronies in top posts, and claiming he has the right to interfere in criminal cases.

While speaking to the press last week, Trump even announced that he's allowed to be involved in all criminal cases because he's the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. It's actually a title used for the attorney general.

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