Richard Burt’s Russian Connections: Oleg Deripaska, Alfa-bank, Deutsche Bank
Richard Burt’s Russia connection began with his father, a Russian emigre that made a fortune mining in Siberia. Burt became a Henry Kissinger protege in his 20‘s (1), and by the late 70's joined the New York Times (2), where he published a number of leaked US security secrets. This led to a contentious nomination of Burt to US ambassador to Germany in 1985 when a number of US senators, including Orin Hatch, accused Burt of violating US espionage laws (1), though nothing came of those accusations, and his confirmation was ultimately railroaded through by Senator Majority leader Bob Dole (3). By 2004, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska would hire both Bob Dole and Richard Burt’s Diligence to lobby on his behalf after Deripaska was banned from entering the US due to his ties with Russia organized crime (4)(5).
Another owner of Diligence was Nathanial Rothschild, business partner to Oleg Deripaska (5). The two own a major stake in Russian aluminum company, RusAl (6).
Another client of Diligence was Alfa-bank. In 2005 Diligence LLC allegedly attempted to illegally acquire information from an Alfa-bank Rival, though the case was settled out of court (7). By 2006, Richard Burt himself joined the senior advisory board of Alfa-bank (8). Alfa-bank's server was found pinging Trump Org servers regularly during the 2016 campaign, a total of 2000 times between May and September (11).
At some point Burt also joined the board of Deutsche Bank (10). Since, Deutsche bank has been caught multiple times involved in Russian money laundering schemes (12)(13).
In 1998, when no other bank would loan to Donald Trump after a string of bankruptcies, Deutsche created a brand new real estate operation and gave Trump it’s first loan of $125 million for renovation of his 40 Wall Street property, then backed the construction of his Trump World Tower (14), which ultimately sold 1/3 of its properties to Russians or limited liabilities connected to Russia (15). Other notable residents included Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who once claimed at a wedding he was part of the Russian mob (16), and Trump pollster, Kellyanne Conway, who was connected to the Tom Delay/Jack Abramoff’s Russia scandal (more on that later) (17).
In 2005, Deutsche bank loaned Trump $640 million (14). The following year Richard Burt, representing Alfa-bank, and Ron Lauder, Trump’s childhood friend, awarded Deutsche Bank for “Excellence in Foreign Investment in Russia” (9).
Richard Burt and Sergey Kislyak
In 1989, George HW Bush appointed Richard Burt as chief negotiator of the START I treaty between the US and Russia. On the other side, a little known Sergey Kislyak worked at the Soviet Union’s ministry of foreign affairs, focused on nuclear negotiations (1). On July 31, 1991, the START I treaty was signed by Russia and the United States. When START I was due to expire in late 2008, it was Kislyak hard at work re-negotiating it (2). Several current and former US intelligence agents now consider Kislyak a “top spy and recruiter of spies" for Russia (3).
Sarah Palin and Sergey Kislyak
In May 2007, Russian politician Vladimir Yetylin visited Sarah Palin in Anchorage, Alaska and invited her to Russia’s Chukotka region where Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich governed (1). Abramovich is close business partners with Oleg Deripaska (15), was one of the founders of RusAl (16), and has his own mafia connections (17).
This was not something new. In 2000 Yetylin and Abramovich visited Alaska in an attempt to recruit famed Alaska politician Victor Fishcher to govern Chuktoka, but when that failed, Abramovich took the seat himself (2)(3).
Then in January, 2008, Sarah Palin invited Kislyak to attend Alaska’s 50th anniversary since joining the US, scheduled for the following January (4).
In March, Nathanial Rothschild hosted a fundraiser for McCain’s campaign during McCain’s trip to the UK, a move many accused of violating election laws (18). McCain had met with Oleg Deripaska on several occasions by then, first introduced by Paul Manafort’s business partner in Ukraine, Rick Davis, at DeVos in 2006. In 2004 Paul Manafort had signed a contract with Deripaska to “greatly benefit the Putin Government” (21). Deripaska would later host John McCain’s 70's birthday party on a yacht off the coast of Montenegro (19).
In May, Dmitry Medvedev stepped down as head of Russian oil and gas giant, Gazprom, to head the Russian Federation as the new President. At some point Gazprom would hire Richard Burt as a lobbyist (20). In July, Medvedev appointed Kislyak Russia’s ambassador to the US (5).
That same month, July 2008 Rick Davis, chose Sarah Palin as McCain’s running make (6). Ever close to her side was Richard Burt and his wife, Gahl Hodges Burt, who was responsible for Palin’s well fitted suits (14). Richard Burt acted as McCain’s top advisor on foreign relations, a familiar role he had also fulfilled in McCain’s 2000 run.
Then, in September, Medvedev attended ELAT in Chukotka, becoming the first Russian president to visit the area, and met with Abramovich (7) and Yetlyin. During Yetlyin’s presentation at ELAT, Yetlyin “point[ed] out the best known dead caribou for many years, lying beside Alaska Governor Sarah Palin” (8). Just weeks later on Oct 13, Gazprom sent eight executives to Alaska to meet with state officials (9), including Aleksei Miller who was later sanctioned by the US for election meddling (10), and Aleksandr Golubyev, veteran FSB agent (11).
The following January, 2009, Kislyak accepted his invitation and visited Palin in Alaska (12). Five months later, Kislyak emailed Sarah Palin about meeting with what would turn out to be a Russian mob “godfather,” Alexander Torshin (13).
Kislyak, Alfa-bank, and the Center for the National Interest
Prior to being named Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak was deputy minster of foreign affairs, working under Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov had been meeting reguarly with Donald Trumps personal lawyer and “America’s mayor” Rudy Giuliani since 2004 (1) and his son-in-law, Alexander Vinokurov sits on the board of Alfa-bank alongside Richard Burt (3). In Oct 2008, with Richard Burt present as an Alfa-bank board member, Giuliani presented the keynote speech for Alfa-bank’s “Excellence in Foreign Investments in Russia” award (2).
As recently as October 2016 Richard Burt claims to maintain a close working relationship with Alfa-banks co-founder, Mikhail Fridman (4).
The Ministry of Foreign Relations was actively linked to the Alfa-bank’s Alfa Fellowship internship program and Lavrov and Kislyak met the 2008 interns just prior to Kislyak heading to the US as the newly-appointed ambassador to the US (2).
After arriving in the US, Kislyak was welcomed with a dinner party hosted by Dmitri Simes of the Center for the National Interest, a think tank group founded by Nixon (5). Also on the board are Richard Burt and Henry Kissinger, as well as Grover Norquist (6). In 1995, Norquist worked with Tom Delay on the infamous K Street Project (7). Years later it was found Delay was bribed by Russia’s Gazrprom for his vote on an IMF bailout of the Russian economy in 1997 (8), a scandal, orchestrated by Delay’s prior aid, Jack Ambroff, that shook the US political world. Jack Ambroff’s friend, Paul Erickson of the NRA, would later “date" the notorious Russia spy, Maria Butina and assist her in infiltrating US politics (9).
In 2007 Richard Burt had left Diligence and joined his mentor, Henry Kissinger, at Kissinger McLarty & Associates (1). The following year in September 2008, “Father of the oligarchs” Anatoly Chubais joined the international advisory board of JP Morgan Chase alongside Kissinger (2).
For those unfamiliar, Chubais was responsible for bringing capitalism to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and worked closely with Harvard professors in the 90‘s through a group called the Harvard Institute of International Affairs, or HIID, that eventually erupted in scandal when a number of those professors were caught profitting from the very advice and direction they were giving to the Russian government (3)(4). Henry Kissinger was the founding director of HIID in 1958 (orginally CFIA), then focused on nuclear arms control theory (5).
HIID’s Andrei Shliefer worked closely with Len Blavatnik and business partner Viktor Vekselberg, helping them attain loans for investments in Russia (11). In return, Blavatnik would make investments to Shleifer in the very companies Shleifer worked to privatize (3). In 2014 Jared Kushner and Ivanak Trump partied in Moscow with both Blavatnik and Veksleberg, as well as head of Mikhail Fridman’s Letter One and Sergey Lavrov’s daugher and son-in-law (13). Both Blavatnik and Vekselberg’s cousin, Andrew Intrater, later donated to Donald Trump’s inaugural fund (12).
Just prior to joining JP Morgan, Chubais had worked from 2004-2008 breaking up and privatizing the Russian government-owned electrical giant, RAO-UES (6), assisted by Carter Page (7). Shortly after that work, Page teamed up with a Gazprom executive, Sergei Yatsenko, to found Global Energy Capital in a building connected to Trump Tower via bridge (8).
Also in September of 2008, when Chubais join the international advisory board of JP Morgan Chase, Chubais was appointed General Manager of RUSNANO (9). On the supervisory board of Rusnano was Alexander Torshin (10).
Rusnano and Schwarzenegger
Sarah Palin ultimately failed her bid for the White House, so Sergey Kislyak turned to another US politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the time Governor of California.
For those unfamiliar, Schwarzenegger made his first trip to Russian in 1986 for the filming of “Red Heat”, where he met up with Russian weightlifter, Yury Vaslov. Vaslov, along with his friend, Vladimir Dubinin, formed the USSR’s Federation of Bodybuilding, or IFBB (1). While Vaslov ended up joining the Russian state Duma, Dubinin would continue to connect to Schwarzenegger through the Arnold Classic in Ohio, where Dubinin would gift Schwarzenegger busts of Russia leaders, including Stalin in 1995 and Putin in 2009 (2)(3).
In 1999, Russian action star Alexander Nevsky, called the “Russian Arnold Schwarzenegger,” gifted Schwarzenegger a memoir signed by Gorbachev, whom Nevsky knew personally (4)(5). Soon after Schwarzenegger teamed up with US politicos that once ushered Russia’s Yeltsin into power to push him to California governor (6).
In Oct 2009, amid the world financial crisis, Schwarzenegger was set to close California’s only standing Russian settlement, Fort Ross, until approached by Sergey Kislyak, who suggested Russian assistance to finance the park (7). A month later, Medvedev announced Moscow’s own answer to Silicon Valley Skokovo, and appointed Viktor Vekselberg to lead the project (8). Ultimately it was Vekselberg’s Renova Group that financed Fort Ross, the deal signed on Oct 21, 2010 following a keynote speech by Schwarzenegger and Kislyak at an event held at Vekselberg’s Skolkovo, Russia, an event sponsored by Rusnano (10). And, as it turns out, Skolkovo was a suspected spy facility.
As Obama’s effort to reboot diplomatic relations [with Russia] sputtered, federal officials began raising alarms about the Skolkovo Foundation’s ties to Putin.
“The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies” (9)
In attendance at the infamous meeting in Skolkovo was Carter Page’s father, Alan Page, as well as Arkady Dvorkovich (10). When Carter Page founded Global Energy Capital in 2008, he listed his father’s home as the address (11). In 2013, Page got caught up in a Russian spy ring (16), and yet, unfazed, in 2016 emailed Trump’s campaign boasting he could arrange a meeting in Moscow between Trump and Putin (17). Carter Page was introduced to the Trump campaign by Ed Cox (19), who’s wife’s sister, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, sits on the board for the Center for the National Interest (18). Rudy Giuliani once worked at Ed Cox’s law firm in the 70‘s (20), and, more recently, in 2005, Bracewell Giuliani lobbied for Ed Cox’s Houston-based Nobel Energy (21)(22). Then, in July 2016 amid Trump’s campaign, Carter Page flew to Russia and met with Dvorkovich (12).
Also in attendance was “Russia’s favorite Congressman" Dana Rohrabacher (10). Two years later the FBI would approach Rohrabacher warning Russian spies were trying to recruit him (25).
Also in attendance was Alexander Torshin as well as Preston Kline (10). Kline introduced Torshin to the NRA’s David Keene (13) soon after, in May 2011 (14). David Keene also sits on the board of the Center for the National Interest alongside Richard Burt and Henry Kissinger (15). After that, Torshin often appeared at the NRA’s annual convention and claimed he knew Donald Trump through the NRA (26). Torshin’s protege, Maria Butina, took a picture with Scott Walker at the 2015 NRA convention and met with Walker again when Walker announced his presidential bid. Shortly after Butina met with Scott Walker, Russian oligarch Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries donated to Scott Walker’s political operation and $1.5 million to a pro-Walker Super PAC (29). Torshin also chatted with Don Jr at the 2016 NRA convention (28).
Also in attendance was Viktor Vekselberg’s cousin, Andrew Intrater (10), who later donated to Donald Trump’s inaugural fund (30).
On that same trip to Skolkovo, Schwarzenegger met with Medvedev who offered him the mayorship of Moscow (23 @1:23). Though that never came to pass, in 2014 Schwarzenegger starred in the film, “Sabotage”, that was financed by Mikhail Lesin, founder of Russia’s propaganda outlet, RT (24).
Richard Burt, Sergey Kislyak, and Alexander Torshin infiltrate US politics
In early 2011, Donald Trump discussed running for president with Steve Bannon, but they both agreed 2016 would be better (1). Then in May, Sarah Palin paid Trump a visit at Trump Tower (2). Sarah Palin became an early endorser of Donald Trump, appearing at a Trump rally to give her endorsement just weeks before the Iowa caucus (13). Here’s Palin spouting out pro-Putin talking points in 2014 (14).
In 2012, Kissinger, whom Putin considers a trusted foreign policy adviser, visited Vladimir Putin to discuss US and Russia elections (3).
In August 2014, Rand Paul named Richard Burt and the president of the Center for the National Interest’s Dimitri Simes as key foreign policy advisers (4). Two months later Rand Paul delivered a speech at the Center for the National Interest’s annual dinner (5). It didn’t take much time before Rand Paul started spouting Russian talking points (6), as well as his father, Ron Paul (7). In 2018 Rand Paul traveled to Moscow and hand delivered a personal note from Trump to Putin and invited Russian senators to meet with the US congress in the US “or elsewhere” (11). The Russian senators then asked for assistance in the Maria Butina case and suggested they may use the invite to protest her arrest (12).
The following February, 2015, Simes met with Putin in Moscow. In May, the Center for the National Interest arranged for Alexander Torshin and his protege, Maria Butina, to visit with US government officials (8). On June 12th, the Center for the National Interest published Maria Butina’s op-ed discussing that only a Republican can improve relations with Russia (9). Around the same time, Simes emailed Butina about connecting one of his top donors with Russian officials (10).
The Russians and the Trump Campaign: The Beginnings
The following month, July 2015, Butina attended the Freedom Fest where she was called on my Donald Trump shortly after he announced his candidacy for president. Asked about sanctions, Trump promised, “We’ll get along with Putin” (1). That same month, Rob Goldstone, publicist to a Russian pop star who’s father is an oligarch, emailed Trump’s personal assistant about possibly hooking Trump up with a personal meeting with Putin (10). Within that same same summer, Donald Trump met up with Michael Flynn for the first time (2). At the time, Flynn was seemingly romantically involved with an accused Russian spy, Svetlana Lokhova, who had access to Russia’s GRU files (3).
In August, Dana Rohrabacher met up with Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin in St. Petersburg (4).
On Dec 2, 2015 Flynn visited Sergey Kislyak at his home (5). Shortly after, on Dec 8th, a delegation of NRA officials, arranged by David Keene, met with Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina at Moscow while Flynn, at the same time, delivered a paid speech at an RT Gala in Moscow and sat at the same table as Vladimir Putin. Officials notice after the RT Gala an increased communications between Flynn and Kislyak and British intelligence agencies detecte suspicious interactions between Russan and Trump aides that they pass to US intellgence (6). Recently reported, Maria Butina also updated her progress to Kislyak as well (7).
Shortly after the NRA delegation returned to the states, Ed Cox (connected to the Center for the National Interest) introduced Carter Page to Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Corey Lewandowski (8). Page then emails Trump’s campaign boasting that he could arrange a meeting in Moscow between Trump and Putin (9). After meeting with Lewandowki in January, Lewandowski steered him to Sam Clovis who ultimately hired Page to Trump’s National Security team (8).
The Center for the National Interest and the Trump Campaign
Then on March 14, 2016 Jared Kushner attended a luncheon hosted by the Center for the National Interest where he met with Dimitri Simes and Henry Kissinger (1). That same day George Papadopoulos met with the infamous Professor Mifsud in Italy who would later reveal Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. Then, on March 31st during Trump’s first National Security meeting that also included Jeff Sessions, Papadopoulos revealed he could arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin (2). Though Trump never ended up meeting with Putin, less than three weeks later on April 19, Donald Trump’s childhood friend, Ron Lauder, did (3).
A little more than a week later, the Center for the National Interest hosted Trump first speech on foreign policy at the Mayflower Hotel. Richard Burt and George Papadopoulos worked on that speech, where Trump promised a “good deal with Russia” (4). It was at that event that Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions first met Sergey Kislyak (5). Sessions would again meet with Kislyak, this time with Carter Page and JD Gordon, on July 18 during the Republican National Convention. And yet again in September Session met Kislyak in his Senate office (6).
Burt also attended two dinners with Jeff Sessions while a lobbyist for Gazprom (7).
In May, 2016, a political operative connected to the NRA emailed Jeff Sessions and Rick Dearborn for advice arranging a meeting with Trump and Putin, with first contact to be made at the NRA’s 2016 convention. Dearborn forwarded a similar email stemming from Christian causes to Jared Kushner (11).
During the 2016 NRA national convention, Alexander Torshin ultimately met up with Don Jr and Maria Butina delivered a speech to the governor and lieutenant governor of Kentucky (8). Butina also later dined with Don Jr on a separate occasion (9) and went on a Styx date with JD Gordon from Trump’s National Security Team (10).
Then in December Jared Kushner joined Michael Flynn to see Kislyak at Trump Tower where they discussed “setting up a secret and secure communications channel” (6). Afterward, Flynn kept communicating with Kislyak (12), negotiating by Kushner’s direction (13), in violation of the Logan Act. Flynn would eventually enter a plea deal for lying about those negotiations to the FBI (12).
At Kislyak's request, the head of VEB, Sergei Gorkov, visited Kushner at Trump Tower in Dec 2016, where he gifted Kushner art and a "bag of dirt" from Kushner's ancestral land of Belarus (14). The two discussed Kushner Companies, though VEB was under US sanctions. Previously, Gorkov led Sberbank at the time Sberbank sponsored Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow (15). While there, Herman Gref, the CEO of Sberbank, hosted a dinner for Trump (16). Immediately afterwards Trump started tweeting about a Trump Tower Moscow (17). Then, in early 2014, a former Sberbank employee with access to GRU files, Svetlana Lokhova, met with Michael Flynn at Cambridge University, birthplace of Cambridge Analytica (18). Immediately after Carter Page flew to Moscow amid Trump's presidential campaign, Page traveled to Cambridge University and met up with Paul Manafort-protege, Vin WWeber (19)(20).
Russia and the Trump Administration
On February 2nd, Trump was scheduled to meet Alexander Torshin at the National Prayer Breakfast, but the meeting was canceled when it was revealed Torshin had ties to organized crime . Dana Rohrabacher, however, still dined with Torshin and referred to him as “conservatives’ favorite Russian” (13).
On May 9, 2017, Trumped fired Comey over the “Russia thing" (1). That same day, Sergey Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson (2). According to her plea deal, Butina helped the Trump administration select Rex Tillerson as his first Secretary of State (3). While head of ExxonMobil, Tillerson won the Order of Friendship personally from Vladimir Putin for signed a deal with Rosneft’s Igor Sechin. Exxonmobil was ultimately fine $2 million for that deal for breaking US sanctions (4).
On May 10, the day after Trump fired Comey, Trump met with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office (2), where he admited he fired “nutcase" James Comey to ease pressure form investigation (8) and revealed classified information honed by Israel (9). After the meeting ended and the doors opened to the press, Lavrov and Kislyak were gone and instead, Henry Kissinger accompanied Trump (2).
At some point, Kushner delivered a Russian-sanctions relief plan approved by Putin to Tillerson himself. The plan was originally delivered from Kirill Dimitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, to Kushner’s friend, Rick Gerson (5). At one point, Stephen Schwartzman of Blackstone Group sat on the advisory board to the Russian Direct Investment Fund at it's inception in 2011 (6). Since 2013, Blackstone Group loaned Kushner Companies more than $400 million over multiple projects (7). Also on the board of Blackstone is Jacob Rothschild (10), who’s son, Nathanial, is business partners with Oleg Deripaska and owns a major stake in Rusal (11).
On January, 2019, the Trump administration lifted sanctions on Rusal as well as two other firms connected to Oleg Deripaska (12).