The Wall Street Journal has revealed names of contributors to the Republican National Committee, which is now funding Trump’s legal fees in the Russia probe. Most conspicuously, funds from a Ukrainian-American billionaire with ties to the Kremlin are now helping pay for Trump’s lawyers.
Global political expert and author, Dr. Brian Klaas, weighed in with a Tweet:
“Man suspected of dubious ties to Russia pays for legal defense with money from man with dubious ties to Russia.”
Man suspected of dubious ties to Russia pays for legal defense with money from man with dubious ties to Russia. https://t.co/BrbaOOkiHa
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) September 22, 2017
The Journal reveals the names and contribution amounts. Among them is Len Blavatnik, the billionaire worth $19.6B. He was born in the Ukraine and raised in Moscow. He emigrated to the US in 1978.
Blavatnik made $7 billion in the sale of the Russian oil company TNK-BP in 2013. Blavatnik is a “longtime business partner” with Viktor Vekselberg, one of the wealthiest Russian oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin. Vekselberg profited with Blavatnik on the sale of the TNK-BP oil company to Rosneft, the Russian state-controlled oil company mentioned in the Steele Dossier.
According to the Dossier, then-Trump campaign aide Carter Page was offered bribes by the vice-chair of the board of directors of Rosneft, Igor Sechin.
Len Blavatnik donated to the RNC legal fund in April: $12,700. He donated $100,000 to the legal fund in 2016. Interestingly, he avoided donating directly to Trump’s campaign but did donate to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Blavatnik is also the owner of Warner Music. Below, he strikes a pose with Ed Sheeran.
trump donor , and Len Blavatnik pic.twitter.com/CHab0TAT61
— Nik Hb (@niikhb) September 14, 2017
Blavatnik’s contributions were offered while the FBI probe was ongoing, and one month before Mueller was appointed as special counsel, which is when Trump decided to hire his own private legal team.
Contributions made to the RNC could be used to fund Trump’s legal fees, even if the person making the donation did not support Trump in the election. This could possibly discourage future donors while encouraging others who seek to contribute to Trump’s legal defense to win political influence with the White House.
Another questionable ethics problem: One of the biggest donors, developer Lianbo Wang is involved in projects like the Thompson Education Center in upstate New York, and China City of America in the Catskill Mountains. These projects reportedly draw Chinese investors with the promise of EB-5 visas, offering permanent residency status to select wealthy Chinese immigrants. Linabo Wang has made other large contributions to Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again campaigns.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as part of Kushner Companies, is under investigation by federal prosecutors for their own program offering visas to wealthy overseas investors.
While the contributions being funneled to Trump’s legal defense may be legal, they certainly raise ethics concerns. Since the legal fees involve the Russian probe, it’s disturbing that a billionaire that close to Putin could be sending funds now used to help Trump’s defense. It also seems a conflict of interest that wealthy Chinese investors could have a vested interest in obtaining a golden ticket to citizenship in exchange for contributions to the RNC.
Featured image: Len Blavatnik, screenshot via YouTube