Understanding the Magnitsky Act is a Must for U.S. Citizens

Maybe he was overly eager to please his bullying father. Maybe he thought that the rules didn’t apply to him. Or maybe he was just ignorant, but clearly Donald Trump Jr. didn’t give it much thought when he approached a foreign national for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Who would have thought that the “smoking gun” would come from the Trumps themselves?

There’s an excellent piece on NPR by Jim Zarroli about the British-born music promoter, Rob Goldstone, who set up the meeting between Don Jr. and a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connections. The meeting wasn’t terribly clandestine considering that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and brother-in-law Jared Kushner also attended and it was held at a Trump property.

At that meeting, the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, mentioned a few things about campaign funding in the Democratic party, then tried to change the subject to the Magnitsky Act and the banned U.S. adoption of Russian children. Goldstone says, “at which point the meeting was halted by Don Jr. and we left.”

Junior’s lack of interest in the welfare of children aside, what is really interesting here is the Magnitsky Act. It was named after the Russian attorney of author Bill Browder whose highly acclaimed book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice (Simon & Schuster; 2015) details the corruption and murderous heart of the Putin regime.

The Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was passed in 2012 to punish the Russian officials responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s horrific torture and death by prohibiting their entrance to the U.S. and access to American banks. The book details the background to this Act. The Washington Post said, “[A] riveting account of Browder’s journey through the early years of Russian capitalism….Begins as a bildungsroman and ends as Greek tragedy…. ‘Russian stories never have happy endings,’ Magnitsky tells Browder, in the book’s most memorable line. Perhaps not, but they do have inspiring ones.”

For anyone who wants the big picture on the Russia situation, this is a must-read.

Photo credit: Reuter's