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Why did the DOJ abruptly settle Russian money laundering case with attorney at center of collusion?

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"In March, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was abruptly fired by Donald Trump, even though Trump had previously called Bharara to Trump Tower and assured him he could keep his job after Trump took office. At the time, Bharara was overseeing a case against Russian mobsters accused of massive money laundering. That case was abruptly settled in May by Bharara’s replacement and raised eyebrows at the time. From CNN in May:

The case aimed to expose how Russian mobsters allegedly stole $230 million and hid some of the cash in New York City real estate. Also sure to come up was the suspicious death of the Russian lawyer who exposed the alleged fraud, though US prosecutors weren't alleging that the defendants were behind it.
The trial was set to start on Monday, but late Friday night, federal prosecutors in New York announced they settled the case with Prevezon, the company accused of buying up "high-end commercial space and luxury apartments" with laundered money.
The abrupt conclusion has some involved in the trial wondering why this Russian investigation had been cut short.
"What most concerns me is: Has there been any political pressure applied in this?" asked Louise Shelley, an illicit finance expert who was set to testify in support of the US government on Tuesday.
Wow, Denys Katsyv, the owner of Prevezon, must’ve had one fantastic lawyer to make this all go away. What was her name? Natalia Veselnitskaya. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because she is also the same attorney who flew from Moscow to meet with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower. And Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee want serious answers from Attorney General Jeff Sessions about why this case was so abruptly dropped in May.

The facts underlying the Prevezon case—including the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who uncovered the fraud, in a Russian prison—led to the passage of unprecedented sanctions against the Russian officials thought to be complicit.

Nevertheless, two days before trial was set to begin, the Department agreed to settle this $230 million case for less than $6 million and no admission of wrongdoing. Ms. Veselnitskaya told one Russian news outlet that the penalty was so light that it seemed “almost an apology from the government.”
The committee followed that with five critical questions they want the attorney general to answer by July 26, 2017. Read their full letter below.

7.12.17 Letter Ag Sessions - We Want Answers on Fraud Settlement, Meeting at Trump Tower by dailykos on Scribd..."


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Kasowitz Supposedly Taking Credit For Firing Preet Bharara

If this is true, it's a really bad move.

Sometimes when people are feeling a little full of themselves they make boasts that they can’t really back up. But the more dangerous move is when they make boasts they can back up… but shouldn’t be broadcasting. If the reports are true, it’s unclear which Marc Kasowitz is doing, but if it’s the latter, it’s more fuel for the mounting belief that this administration is deeply, deeply concerned about its criminal exposure.

Which is probably not the message the counsel for the president wants to convey.

Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott of Pro Publica, publishing in the Huffington Post, report that Kasowitz is telling people that he’s the one who convinced Trump to go back on his commitment to retain SDNY U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:

Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, has boasted to friends and colleagues that he played a central role in the firing of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, according to four people familiar with the conversations.

Kasowitz told Trump, “This guy is going to get you,” according to a person familiar with Kasowitz’s account.

Those who know Kasowitz say he is sometimes prone to exaggerating when regaling them with his exploits. But if true, his assertion adds to the mystery surrounding the motive and timing of Bharara’s firing.

The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t really matter whether he’s exaggerating or not if he’s really making this claim. Because this brag, true or not, implies that there’s something (or somethings) illegal going on that Trump not only needs to worry about, but are so troubling that he needs to go out and fire any lawyers with an ethical duty to investigate criminal conduct within the government. If the alleged boast involved telling Trump, “Preet’s a bad prosecutor” or “Preet’s bad for Wall Street” or even “Preet’s bad for my clients” that would be troubling but wouldn’t reflect on Trump’s own legal predicament. But to tell people that Trump fired Preet because you thought Preet could uncover criminal activity that could “get” the guy you represent? That’s not a good look.

It’s not as bad as the ethical breach of telling people you don’t represent that they don’t need to hire lawyers, but it’s not good.

For Kasowitz’s sake, one hopes he’s either never said anything about Bharara’s firing or is egregiously misquoted on the justification he offered the president. Because if he’s really telling this story, he may want to lay off the bragging for awhile."

Trump’s Personal Attorney Reportedly Bragged About Getting Rid Of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara [Huffington Post]

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