Why the collusion story begins with money, not politics.
Sean Illing: We know there are deep links between Russian money and Trump, but let’s talk about how the interests intertwine. What did you make of the recent revelations about Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya?
Seva Gunitsky: So we have this infamous Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. last year and apparently several other people, including a former Soviet counterintelligence officer. I think the tough question critics have been asking is where is the quid pro quo in that? The Magnitsky Act, ostensibly the purpose of the meeting, isn’t going anywhere, so people are concluding that there wasn’t a quid pro quo here. But we should be talking a lot more about the Prevezon case.
Sean Illing: Explain what that is and why it matters.
Seva Gunitsky: So Prevezon is a holding company with links to Russian elites that has been accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars through New York City real estate. It's also part of Hermitage Capital, an investment fund that was being investigated by Magnitsky (the Russian lawyer who was killed in a Moscow prison in 2009) more than 10 years ago.
Prevezon was part of this giant tax fraud scheme that Magnitsky uncovered in 2008, which led to his death and which led indirectly to the Magnitsky Act of 2012. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was also preparing a massive case against Prevezon last year. Until it was abruptly dropped.