Was Trump’s headline news a distraction from this Russia hearing?
Last week, most of the headlines were about the drama in the White House, from Anthony ‘The Mooch’ Scaramucci and his expletive-laced tirades to Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement that he would be banning transgender individuals from serving in the military.
But last week was also when financier Bill Browder was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As pointed out by The Huffington Post, It seems to have been important enough to the White House to distract from Browder’s testimony that Scaramucci missed his baby son’s birth and congratulated his estranged wife by text message. And on Wednesday, when Browder was set to testify, that was when Trump took to Twitter with his ban.
Browder’s testimony was then put off until the next day, but on Thursday, Scaramucci once more stole headlines with a tirade laced with expletives and innuendo.
However, while Browder’s testimony didn’t make the top headlines, it was called by one senator one of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s “most important” hearings.
In pre-prepared remarks published by The Atlantic, he said: “I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use US enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests.”
During his testimony, he continued on to describe a reign of terror by Vladimir Putin characterized by murder, torture, blackmail and corruption.
“Effectively the moment that you enter into their world, you become theirs,” Browder said.
He went on to describe how he had been close to Putin and was a successful businessman in Russia before he and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered evidence of a corruption scandal and reported it.
“And we waited for the good guys to get the bad guys,” he recalled before adding, “It turned out that in Putin’s Russia, there are no good guys.”
Browder was accused of tax evasion and barred from reentering Russia while he was traveling abroad on business. His lawyer was jailed and is believed to have been beaten to death in 2009.
“Sergei Magnitsky was murdered as my proxy. If Sergei had not been my lawyer, he would still be alive today,” Browder said in his testimony.
Later, in 2012, Magnitsky’s name was on the 2012 Maginstky Act passed by the United States Congress targeting Russia for human rights abuses. In response, Browder said, “Putin was furious. Looking for ways to retaliate against American interests, he settled on the most sadistic and evil option of all: banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American families.”
It’s this adoption law, interestingly, that was supposedly brought up during the meeting for which Donald Trump Jr. is currently under fire.
Browder’s testimony also addressed what Senator Lindsay Graham described as an apparent contradiction: the fact that Russia allegedly had a dossier on Trump while also trying to allegedly help him win the presidency.
“What you need to understand about the Russians is there is no ideology at all,” Browder explained. “Vladimir Putin is in the business of trying to create chaos everywhere.”
“They’ve got you both ways: with the carrot of continued bribery, and the stick of exposure and blackmail if you defect?” asked Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Browder then explained, “That is how every single one of their relationships work. That’s how they grab people and keep them. And once you get stuck in with them, you can never leave.”
It’s a damning testimony for Putin, certainly, but also for anyone who is involved with Putin and Russia. And it’s interesting that on the week that Browder testified, Trump and his administration seemed to have one of the worst weeks in public relations, which is really saying something.
So, the question is: Was it just a bad week, or were the “missteps” designed as misdirections to distract from the Russia hearing?