Russia wants to interrogate ex-U.S. ambassador McFaul, other Americans in criminal case
Russian prosecutors want to interrogate American officials including former ambassador Michael McFaul over alleged involvement in money crimes in the aftermath of President Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin.
Putin had mentioned the alleged crimes of American-British financier Bill Browder when responding to questions about the 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted in the U.S. in the hacking of Democratic emails during the 2016 election.
Browder, who became rich in Moscow during the relatively lawless days of the 1990s post-Soviet Union, is a common bête noire for the Putin government, though prosecutors claimed Wednesday that American intelligence services may have also been involved in an illegal scheme.
A list of U.S. officials announced by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office on Tuesday included members of the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and CIA, as well as McFaul.
McFaul, whose tenure in Moscow was marked by the rapid deterioration of relations between the U.S. and Russia, hit back against the allegations and the idea of going after a diplomat.
“Trump administration needs to denounce this crazy idea now,” McFaul, who has been critical of Putin’s policies as well as those of Trump, posted on Twitter.
McFaul also asked the White House whether Trump had pushed back in his meeting with Putin on the allegations, which stem from the case of Sergei Magnitsky.
Browder has used the arrest and jail death of his employee Magnitsky, who was investigating government corruption in Russia, as the basis for a series of “Magnitsky Acts” in the U.S. and elsewhere imposing punishment on Moscow officials.
Russian authorities have blamed the same alleged crimes Magnitsky found on Magnitsky himself and Browder, who was convicted in absentia in 2013.
Putin said in his press conference with Trump that Browder had illegally moved $1.5 billion out of Russia and donated $400 million to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
The prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that the amount was $400,000, though Browder denies giving any money to the campaign.
Trump did not challenge Putin at his Helsinki press conference, and suggested he agreed with his denial of any meddling in the 2016 election, though tried to save face after criticism Tuesday and said that he had full faith in the U.S. intelligence community.
Browder’s alleged donations to Clinton were also part of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign figures along with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, before which the Russian side had claimed that it had “dirt” on Clinton obtained through prosecutors.