There is always something more to a story when it involves Donald Trump and Russia. This time that “more” involves Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
On January 28, 2019, the U.S. lifted some Russian sanctions. The official announcement was made by Trump’s U.S. Treasury Secretary appointee Steve Mnuchin, who was Trump’s former 2016 campaign finance chairman. Mnuchin lifted sanctions on three Russian companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska was also a business partner with Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman. Manafort was convicted of bank fraud and tax evasion tied to Russia and also pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
It’s a very tangled web they weave.
On January 16, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led a resolution to stop Mnuchin from lifting the Russian sanctions. Although 11 Republican Senate members joined in support, the Democratic lawmakers still did not have enough votes. (Bernie Sanders, an independent, chose not to vote.) With the ongoing Mueller Trump-Russia collusion investigation running strong, even the supporting Republicans saw Mnuchin’s concessions to Russia a bad move as a bad time.
House members led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, also tried to stop Mnuchin, by introducing a similar resolution on January 17, but the Democratic House members were also unable to overpower Trump’s position and Mitch McConnell’s Senate majority. Both Democratic attempts were considered to be symbolic.
January 28th brought a new twist. It was discovered that one of Mitch McConnell’s major donors, Len Blavatnik, who is tied to Vladimir Putin and other Russian oligarchs, benefited when Trump and McConnell lifted Russian sanctions on Sunday.
An earlier Dallas News piece titled, “How Putin oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns.” is one of the best pieces you’ll read on the subject. Here are a couple of excerpts.
Blavatnik contributed a total of $3.5 million to a PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Blavatnik contributed $1.5 million to the GOP Senate Leadership Fund PAC in the name of Access Industries and another $1 million in the name of AI-Altep Holdings during the 2015/2016 election season. And as of September 2017, he had contributed another $1 million this year through AI–Altep.
Blavatnik, whose family emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s, is a longtime business associate of Russian oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, both of whom have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Along with McConnell, Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham received hefty sums from Blavatnik as well.
Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio? These stories need to be written and/or revisited.
Right now, the point being made is that Mitch McConnell is benefiting from his direct and indirect ties to Putin and Russian oligarchs, which most likely guided McConnell’s recent vote to lift Russian sanctions. And it would seem he clearly voted in the interest of himself, his king and his Russian ties, when McConnell should have been working in the best interest of the American people. Alas, his Senate seat and constituents are merely stepping stones to more corruption.
Many have suspected for some time that smirky McConnell was looped into the Russian knot one way or another. Watching the GOP leader defend and cling to Trump like a tick, has been difficult and disturbing to witness for over two years. Will this news get us closer to McConnell’s political demise? Millions would hope.
One question is, why would McConnell and Trump do something so stupid as to lift Russian sanctions just before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation was beginning to blow wide open? They had to know they were under a microscope. Why choose then?
One thing we do know is—Trump lives to benefit Trump. And McConnell? He was doing that long before Trump entered the Washington arena. McConnell just plays his hand in a more reserved, sinister and insidious manner. But they both come from the same hole in the ground. They both have damaged the lives of masses of people and damaged American democracy. And they both will be on the same ship that goes down. And it’s going down. It’s going down.