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New evidence of Trump giving a Russian oligarch a sweetheart deal builds the case for quid pro quo

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We know that the Kremlin broke the law in its efforts to help get President Donald Trump elected. One of the central questions of the ongoing Russia investigations is: Did Trump and his team agree to give anything in return and then deliver on the promises in office?

There remain strong arguments that Trump has, in fact, delivered on his end of a potential quid pro quo. And on Monday, a report from the New York Times added to that evidence.

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U.S. sanctions against Russia continue to rankle President Vladimir Putin, but one of his close allies is finally getting some relief. The Treasury Department has announced that it will roll back sanctions targeting businesses owned by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin. Democrats and even some Republicans have pushed back against the administration’s plans to ease the sanctions, but Senate Republicans filibustered legislative efforts to block the move.

Now the Times reports that the rollback is even more generous than it looks, citing a confidential deal between both the U.S. and the Russian sides. While the sanctions were supposed to be lifted in exchange for Deripaska giving up a majority stake in the businesses that were targeted, this diminution may actually be less severe than it first appeared.

“The deal contains provisions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company, the document shows,” the Times reported. It added:

According to the confidential document, under the restructuring agreement approved by the Treasury Department, SUAL would own 22.5 percent of Rusal, while EN+ would own 56.88 percent of Rusal.

 

The document specifies the precise ownership stakes in EN+ of other people and entities with personal relationships to Mr. Deripaska. That includes shares owned by his ex-wife, Polina Yumasheva, a British-educated daughter of the chief of staff to Boris N. Yeltsin, a former president of Russia. She owns 5.19 percent of EN+, while her father, Valentin Yumashev, owns 1.57 percent, and a firm called Orandy Capital Limited, which reportedly has links to the family, owns another 1.78 percent, according to the document.

 

Taken together, Mr. Deripaska, his foundation, his ex-wife, her father and Orandy Capital would own nearly 57 percent of EN+ under the deal.

The report also explained that shares of two of Deripaska’s companies spiked after the deal was announced — a significant gift to the oligarch and, by extension, Putin.

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Deripaska also plays a notable role in the Russia investigation. Paul Manafort, Trump’s convicted former campaign manager was reportedly deep in debt to Deripaska, a long-time business associate of his, in 2016 — and he was reportedly in contact with intermediaries in the run up to the election.


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2020 Election

‘The Senate’s in play’: Reeling GOP faces collapse into minority status as Trump drags party down

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According to a report in Rolling Stone, there is a very good chance that the Democrats could take control of the Senate after the 2020 election as the impeachment of Donald Trump casts a cloud over the Republican Party.

The report -- by longtime political observer Tim Dickinson -- states, "the fight to wrest the Senate from Republican control — and oust Mitch McConnell as majority leader — is arguably just as important" as the battle to force Trump from office.

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Mar-a-Lago to host event for conspiracy nuts who believed Obama was a secret Muslim

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President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club is hosting an event for a far-right organization that once spread bogus conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama being a secret Muslim.

The Washington Post reports that Trump's prized Florida resort on Saturday night will play host to the Center for Security Policy, a group that believes "mainstream Muslim organizations in the United States are secretly agents of anti-American jihad."

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Lev Parnas wants to testify — and attorney says ‘he has hard—HARD—first-hand evidence’

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One of Rudy Giuliani's indicted henchman wants to testify -- and his attorney says he's got "first-hand evidence."

Federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas to Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman, and the Parnas has indicated that he wants to speak to congressional investigators.

"Lev grew up in Brooklyn, has no criminal record or Russian Mob ties, and is a proud American citizen," said his attorney Joseph Bondy. "He’s not afraid of #POTUS or polonium, hopes to testify under oath — unlike #RudyGiuliani — and to be subjected to cross-examination under penalties of perjury. #LetLevSpeak"

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