The Context of Veselnitskaya’s “Informant” Comment

There seems to be a great deal of confusion about what Natalia Veselnitskaya admitted to in a contentious MSNBC interview. Before I get into the admission(s), consider two details about the interview. First, Veselnitskaya insisted on making her own recording of the interview, which she says she always does for her own “security” (I’m using MSNBC’s translations throughout here, but I await a Russian speaker to see how well that was done). It’s unclear whether she’s doing that because she doesn’t trust the journalists she’s speaking with, or whether she feels like she needs a record to avoid trouble with the Russian state.

Also the interview is based on probably hacked documents leaked to Mikhail Khodorkovsky who then passed them on, precisely the kind of “weaponized” leaking that our intelligence services claim (dubiously) never to do. MSNBC dismisses Veselnitskaya’s accusations that Americans might have hacked her (she provided names but sadly MSNBC doesn’t tell us whom she named) by pointing to Khodorkovsky and his anonymous dropbox, as if he played any different role than Julian Assange played in the Russian election operation, down to the verification using metadata. All’s fair in love and hacking — I’m not complaining that this happened to her — but it’s worth attending to the provenance of the documents, particularly given that key ones are attachments.

There are two separate admissions in the interview (MSNBC has not released a transcript, and the excerpts shown are edited in ways that I believe are, like all else MSNBC does on the Russian story, designed to be as inflammatory as possible often at the expense of clarity, if not fact).

The first admission is that Veselnitskaya has ties to a military organization that has ties to the FSB (MSNBC presents it as her “doing legal work for Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB”). Here’s what she admits to:

I did not represent the interests of the FSB. … I did not represent the interests of the FSB. I represented the interests of a military unit which has a very remote association with the FSB. … I can’t tell you anything further.

The second admission appears to be that, in regards to a US request to the Russian government for information on Denis Katsyv — the same client and same legal issue whom Veselnitskaya was representing in the Prevezon case through which she worked with US law firm Baker and Hostetler and Fusion GPS — she provided the language to the Russian government used to refuse to comply with an MLAT request. It appears to be in this context — in response to the claim that she may have crafted the official government response — that she used the word “informant.”

Former SDNY Prosecutor Jaimie Nawaday, who worked on the Prevezon case: The US Department of Justice puts out a request to Russia asking for bank records, incorporation records, because the underlying fraud involved the theft of corporate identities.

Richard Engel: How did the Russian authorities respond?

JN: Essentially they responded by saying that the US government’s allegations were without merit, and they would not be providing the records.

RE: Were you surprised by that response?

JN: Well, yes, because it’s not the job of the foreign government to reinvestigate and come to its own conclusion about the merits of the government’s case.

Let me interject and say this is a load of baloney, though it sure makes for good — if misleading — TV. In the same way no one imagines the UK will ever respond to one of Russia’s regularly issued arrest warrants for Bill Browder, the oligarch who is behind the Magnitsky sanctions, no one should expect Russian cooperation on an MLAT request for information on the money laundering of a favored oligarch. That doesn’t justify it. But it’s just pure fantasy to think Russia will cooperate in the prosecution of one of its own.

What MSNBC showed were emails to an official in Russia’s prosecutor general office (to someone named Sergey Bochkarev,* not to Yuri Chaika himself), as well as a Word document with track changes, neither of which is obviously Veselnitskaya (one is HP or NR — her patronymic is Vladimirovna, so her initials in Cyrillic would be HB; the other is a name that doesn’t appear to be hers).

Veselnitskaya at first did not confirm that the emails were hers. And she flatly denied dictating to the Russian prosecutor’s office how it should respond to the US.

Nothing of the sort. It’s not true.

At another point in the interview, she said she wanted something (perhaps this denial, perhaps that what she did constituted obstruction of justice) on the record, but it appears MSNBC edited out what that was.

Later she did admit that the details in the documents (though not the documents) were hers.

There are many things here from my motions. This was in one of my memos I passed along to the prosecutor general’s office.

But again she denies that she had a “back and forth dialogue.”

Finally, though, Engel asks her what her relationship to the prosecutor general is (again, because of the editing, it is totally unclear whether this comes after the discussion of the Katsyv response or after something else), to which she says,

I am a lawyer and I am an informant.

In point of fact, she has previously admitted providing information she obtained from Fusion to the prosecutor general, so she could have simply been repeating that admission. In any case, in context, this appears to be an admission that she provided information about the case against Katsyv to the prosecutor.

These two details come well after Richard Engel asks Veselnitskaya on whose behalf she went to Trump Tower to lobby Trump’s spawn and campaign manager to lift the Magnitsky sanctions (lobbying activities she engaged in publicly and extensively outside of that event). And they come between the time he describes the HPSCI report finding there was no collusion between Trump’s team and Russians and the times he (ridiculously, in my opinion) twice uses the word “collusion” to refer to Veselnitskaya’s interactions with the Russian government on behalf of a known client.

Frankly, I think the MSNBC reporting (or at least editing) is a mess, in part because what one would want to prove is that she was working for Aras Agalarov (Trump’s apparent handler) or Putin when she met with Don Jr and the others. As I’ve intimated elsewhere, I think the reference to “Crown Prosecutor” in Rob Goldstone’s email to Don Jr is some kind of code, not a reference to Yuri Chaika or Veselnitskaya at all.

But in reality, the “informant” admission is the far less interesting of Veselnitskaya’s two admissions in the interview, because at least in context, all she’s admitting to is providing information to the prosecutor general’s office in the course of her representation of Katsyv. The other admission — the confirmation she’s done work for some entity with ties to Russian intelligence — might be more interesting, though still not a smoking gun regarding the background to her appearance at Trump Towers.

Most of all, though, I still think the role of the Agalarovs — whom the Minority HPSCI Report describes offering to set up a Putin meeting and providing birthday gifts days earlier than stolen emails that appear just after Trump’s birthday — is far more crucial to showing that the Trump Tower meeting was an official outreach from the Russian government. Veselnitskaya was just a convenient way to deliver the demand, Magnitsky relief, and that’s a role she played overtly in numerous other occasions.

Update: I meant to note this detail from the HPSCI Minority Report. Dana Rohrabacher apparently explained his 2016 meeting with Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin by “acknowledging” that they were probably spies.

In testimony before the Committee, Congressman Rohrabacher acknowledged that he met Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin on previous occasions, but that in April 2016, he was traveling as part of a Congressional delegation and encountered them by chance at the hotel lobby of the Ritz Carlton in St. Petersburg. He acknowledged that they were probably spies and probably knew the Congressman would be there. HPSCI Executive Session Interview with Dana Rohrabacher, December 21, 2017.

*I’ve been informed Bochkarev is Chaika’s chief of staff. So not him directly, but close to it.

49 replies
  1. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Not FSB, SVR. Or at least a front company.
    Same stuff that goes on everywhere. Collect HUMINT.

  2. Trip says:

    Yeah. I watched and took the “informant” quote as a little something lost in translation. Of course she would be the informant, or informing on developments about sanctions to the gov’t, if that had been her court case. There’s no way to separate someone working on behalf of oligarchs, including Putin, from Kremlin influence and coordination. I don’t think she is an independent lawyer in the same sense that one might be here. That’s really not how things work in Russia, especially when the issue is as critical as it is for the wealthiest. The Russian people see little movement toward a better economic climate when the oligarchs make more bank. She is, in essence, working for the government, who are entangled with the oligarchs to an even greater degree than they are here. She would need to be in deep for the Kremlin and cohorts to place that kind of faith in her, especially if she had been privy to intelligence information (representing them) in addition to the sanctions issue.

    That said, the MSNBC reportage was a disaster. It was clear that they edited out so much of the conversation, where otherwise allowing her further expounding might have provided better context. On the other hand, she might have been spouting off typical Trumputin-ish talking points about how it was all fake news driven by US deep state and whatnot.

    I wonder if the Russians will release their own version of this interview.

    • emptywheel says:

      I also think they edited out parts (her response to one question by raising our AG is one example) that would have revealed she didn’t entirely understand the question, which would have undermined the narrative about precisely what she was admitting.

      That said, remember that our own law firms will happily make bank with Russian oligarchs, as Baker and Hostetler, Skadden Arps, and Kirkland and Ellis have been doing. And the lawyers for our own oligarchs are pretty wrapped up in power too.

      • Trip says:

        No doubt, Marcy. In fact, we are moving from shadow oligarchical government to straight out in the open kleptocracy, ourselves.

      • earlofhuntingfdon says:

        As you know from China, it never pays to ask someone if they understand what you just said.  The only possible answer is, “Yes,” even though it’s frequently untrue.  A real answer requires a more nuanced question, often several of them.  Not the sort of thing MSNBC is known for.

        I would reverse Trip’s order of priority.  In the US, politicians can be thought of as working for the oligarchs, like Charles and David Koch or the Waltons. In Russia, the oligarchs work for Putin, in the sense that one does not remain an oligarch without keeping him happy, which probably includes a piece of the action, as well as using it to pursue his political objectives.  The wealth remains contingent on the power arrangements.  As in judo, Putin is on top.  The same is true of their counterparts in China.

        • Trip says:

          I Haven’t read his book, and perhaps my recall is faulty, but when Mikhail Zygar
          was making the rounds for his book, he kind of described the power situation as a consortium of oligarchs “making decisions”. Putin is at the center (or top), but he is manipulated by those around him, jockeying for positions, “lobbying”, playing on his fears and insecurities, pushing him into different policies which may conflict with policies made a minute ago (sound familiar?) Since the businesses aren’t private, the dynamic is different than in the US. But the governing is manipulated by the richest, albeit executed by Putin.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I accept that the arrangement is dynamic and situational, that Putin is subject to persuasion from oligarchs and other subsidiary sources of power, especially when they agree on a particular course.  But that sword has two edges.  Putin is part of a vast patronage network that requires him to reward as well as to punish in order to maintain the assemblage of resources that give him power and control.

            Putin, however, wields the resources of government with few of the restraints that apply in the West.  He controls the prosecutorial and court systems, the intelligence industry, the military, economic and other ministries.  He can remove an oligarch, legislate or regulate his businesses into poverty, void deals, make bank debt available or unavailable, institute corruption charges, and so on.  His resources exceed those of any oligarch.  When restraint fails, there are always extreme measures.

            The willingness to use force is fundamental to government.  But Putin is not restrained by the West’s debate over the procedural and substantive limits to the use of that force domestically. The dynamic is similar in China, one reason their leader will remain in power for life, or as long as he retains the power to insist on it.

            • Trip says:

              No argument there, @earl.

              However, Trump and the current administration, including this crop of GOP, are working furiously to remove or destroy institutions and procedures, install cronies at all levels, to protect select loyalties and punish dissent. Look at Trump going after companies he doesn’t like, the intent of impacting stocks, looking to influence financial worth. The same with politicians running for government who don’t acquiesce to his will or message. He publicly derides them, with blatant acts of slander.  Look at his appointments actually manipulating the stock market, via policy, for personal interest/gain. The “Free market” is BS, it’s crony capitalism (for US oligarchs in lockstep) and the rule of law is being fashioned into the rule of the fascist, as Trump Inc aspire to even co-opt independent arms of law enforcement into personal henchmen; ie. demanding charges and indictments against rivals.

              The parallels of mindset and direction (to Kremlin/Putin) are terrifying. Add to that the consent of the press, to slowly diffuse and minimize how fucked up this all is, normalizing the grossly abnormal, and we are on our way…

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                It appears to be an international phenomenon.  Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe come to mind, as well as the forces at work here: Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, ad nauseum, the GOP machinery that backs the Don to the hilt.

                There’s a strong supporting cast in the military-intelligence complex, which benefits powerfully from the data collection, analysis and surveillance machinery that has now metastasized in the US – from license plate readers and pin-credit cards with built-in fingerprint readers to commercial dna collection and autonomous weaponized drones.

                That log cabin in the woods is becoming more appealing.

  3. greengiant says:

    Everyone seems to be talking their book and or ad revenue about this interview.  Browder yesterday unloads another condemnation on oligarchs behaving badly.  Thinking there would need to be more information to determine if Natalia is more than a talented spear carrier or scout. Team Trump finally woke up to the Tower meeting being a provocation. If Clinton had used the dossier the false data in it would have blown up in her face. So luck or intelligence working there.

    • SC says:

      “She’s sending a signal to Don Jr, . . . ”

      It sounds like a joke but . . . yeah, I read her as signaling she has tapes. I can’t image she wouldn’t have recorded interactions with Don Jr.  and I also can’t image that Don Jr. would have dodged being recorded. So, why she needs to signal she has tapes is kinda weird.

  4. orionATL says:

    thanks, ew,  for taking the trouble to examine this matter in detail. detail is where the truth always lurks. msnbc and those that followed its story (myself) seemed more interested in a catchily titled story than in a careful exigesis of veselnitskya’s role (s).

    nonetheless, while it may have been just a professional courtesy comment, i have never been able to get out of my head ms. V’s comnent during a deposition  about “my very good friend aras agarlov”. at first i thought it might be a romantic comment, but now i think not.

    apparently veselnitskya does have a reputation for  handling numbers of legal matters for the russian state; i suspect that should include prevezon, though it was nominally a private, corporate matter. getting the magnitsky act sanctions reversed would certainly have been an important victory with a new american presidency, though those sanctions are trivial compared to the other two sets of sanctions crippling the russian economy.

    i suppose the most benign explanation for V.’s role is that she was there for the stated purpose, and that that purpose may have provided cover for any planned campaign intervention by other russian operatives, like agarlov thru his employee-in-america, ike kaveladze.


    • orionATL says:

      increasingly i wonder if the june 9 meeting is not a distraction, or at best a sort of “meet and greet” – establishing personal contact between a’s and r’s.

      after all, the network that was to do the damage was already in place, e.g., gucifer 2.0 and the internet troll/robot factory st.petersburg. further, the networks that had hacked the dnc/rnc were finished with their job. that job was at least partly a military (gru) and not a domestic one (fsb). republican political operatives looking to damage the clinton campaign were at work irrespective of any june 9 meeting,

      suborning what the russians could guess and hope would be a naieve, arrogant new presidency they could blackmail thru their helping may have been the gamble they thought was worth taking.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Kushner’s well-reported “waste of time” line could have been a reference to him being well ahead of the curve from other parallel outreach efforts, and not feeling the need to start back at square one with Don Jr. working through the preliminaries of the adoption cover story.

      • matt says:

        Spot on.  Putin had already carried out the operations to undermine Hillary.  Why not both gain favor with Trump by taking a hit on his adversary, while at the same time rack up some more kompromat.  That would be such an irony, if Trump pissed off Putin enough that the Russians themselves prove collusion.

  5. SteveB says:

    EW in the post 17 jan 18 to which you link you do make it clear that you don’t believe Veselnitskaya is Goldstone’s “Crown Prosecutor”, but I have missed the explanation there or elsewhere why you believe it is not a reference to Chaika and is indeed a code of some sort for someone else.

    Apologies if this is in effect a request for you to repeat something you have already clarified elsewhere.

    Re the Engel interview:
    I listened to the podcast rather than saw the broadcast, and it was not clear to me whether there was some confusion/translation issue re the use of the word informant. If a lawyer is interacting with a government agency regarding drafting a document affecting or relating to a case they are involved in then that could be said to be passing information or being an informant in a rather different sense than the way an English speaker in the UK or USA would use the term.
    Your distilation of the two strands of involvement with state organs (ie the FSB connected unit and the chief prosecutor) is very helpful, because I for one was very much left with the impression from the podcast that she was heavily involved with spooky state agencies. While it may well be that she was part of a nefarious scheme re the Trump Tower meeting, I am now left with the impression she may be more of an arms length cut out than the Engel interview perhaps intended to convey. Clearly a proper understanding of the tradecraft employed goes to the heart of how the evidence of collusion/coordination/conspiracy might be weighed and assessed in due course

  6. Avattoir says:

    Re: “the reference to “Crown Prosecutor” in Rob Goldstone’s email to Don Jr [as] some kind of code,” …

    If so, then about the most breakable code evuh.

    We’ve all gotten a heck of a lot more familiar with the terms “U.S. attorney” and “AUSA”, certainly over the last year or so but more generally over the time since the then-suddenly-majority Congress in 2007 just about as suddenly got deeply interested in the general USAicide of U.S. attorneys, the one about which then-U.S.A.G. Alberto Gonzales – “AG AG”, as I like to recall him (so agricultural, so very like a cross between a farm implement and a commercially produced vegetable) suffered such a devastating attack of insta-amnesia.
    Before then, the most common popular ref to a government prosecutor in the U.S., I posit, is as “D.A.”. I mean, it was so useful in part because, beyond its use in noir crime movies and novels, it actually seem elastic enough to cover the office of a U.S. attorney for a given “district”.
    But it wasn’t accurate, not in any precise way. Many of the most powerful prosecutors in U.S. government are employed within the context of cities, particularly large metropolitan ones, and states, others are in the military, everyone also knows about in-house agency prosecutors such as for the military services, etc.
    In any event, the resort to the cliche built up in the popular imagination over many decades, and became so firmly embedded that even today if a civilian uses the term “D.A.” it’s generally assumed to apply to any government prosecution attorney.

    There’s a counterpart for D.A. in countries with institutions closer to their roots in England. It arose in the context of much more unified model of national government. It’s worked itself into the culture, including the public imagination, for far longer than D.A. has: not just since Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, George Raft, Humphrey Bogart et al emerged as central to the national craze in mob movies close to 80 years back. Instead, it began working itself into the culture of the mothership of the common national cultures of the U.S., India, Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada, Australia, NZ and the Republic of Ireland (etc.), for closer to half a millenium – most likely marking from the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII, and in particular associated with the even marking the whole idea of an emerging English national consciousness, Cromwell’s ‘successful’ 1534 prosecution of Thomas More in the wake of Henry’s 1532(secret)-1533(public) marriage to Anne Boleyn.

    Right from that marriage, Cromwell set on a course of seminal significance to the formation of centralized national government in the Western word, gathering up at breakneck pace every office that engaged or touched on national governance – a project that before then had been fundamentally confounded by the roughly parallel power claims of the church and of nobles/warlords. Between 1533 and 1540 inclusive, Cromwell collected offices like Dick Cheney hoovered up souls: chancellor of everything and anything with a nation-wide context or interest, chief clerk of every Crown action, chief recorder of every Crown pronouncement, chief steward of all Crown property, chief surveyor of all lands of the Crown including remotely conceivable Crown fascination, commissioner over anything the office of chancellor didn’t already cover (just to be sure), constable in charge over any and all lands, roads and causeways of royal ownership, interest and regular travel, custodian of any bauble indicating Crown office, holster of (for) the same, lord this and that where it might possibly mean something and governor where royals hadn’t already nabbed it as well the master of the rest – including Master of the Rolls, i.e. the supreme traffic cop over the courts, symbolized in the scrolled-up paper that stated causes, claims, defenses, rights and rulings of all courts in which the Crown actually had or might have (even theoretically at some future time might wish to back) some favored dog in the fight, prebendary (church deacon i/c of all church cash flow), principal secretary for all Crown acts, delegations and expeditions (in case historians needed help in their toils), receiver of all petitions in the House of Lords (to ease their burden), vicar – crikey, even Vice-Regent – in Spirituals(!), and eventually the Great Chamberlain, the big tent of Privy Council slash Cabinet freaking every office expressing Crown power.

    Cromwell had been after More for most the year before the public marriage of Henry and Anne, but after it commenced instigating a number of promising court proceedings against him on various pretexts that for various reasons fell part. Where he nailed More was on refusing to give the Oath of Supremacy to the Crown in the dynamic between the Crown – Henry and his theoretical successors – in temporal matters, and the new nationalized Church of England in spiritual matters.

    It was that prosecution that instituted the idea of the “Crown prosecutor” and that office’s projection of awe for law.

    And in all the countries on that list OTHER than the U.S. and Eire (where there’s like an ongoing national pastime of translating every former English institution into Irish), that CONTINUES to be what civilians call prosecutors – of all levels and types, similar to D.A.s. Indeed, some on that list, e.g. Aus and Canada, are very large (in land mass, at least) confederated nation-states, Aus with 6 states and 2 territories, each with its own state or territorial government, while Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, likewise each with its own provincial or territorial government (India and South Africa have roughly proximate arrangements).

    Thus, due to a dramatic pivotal moment to the English-speaking peoples happening some 484 centuries ago, with the added help of 5 centuries of history, becoming rooted in the DNA of national consciousness, it’s overwhelmingly likely that when ANYONE in Goldstone’s circumstances, i.e. an English, thinks “prosecutor”, it comes out of the mouth or keyboard as “Crown prosecutor”, as if it’s one seamless construction.

    I’m not saying it absolutely, categorically, definitely could not possibly have been used to convey some coded message. I’m saying I’m sure not willing to commit to believing that, at least without some compelling or independent Rosetta stone.

    (Sorry for going on & on so long on this. But, as I’ve pointed out enough times here I’ve lost count, I’ve an abiding interest in comparative legal systems, going back even before my days working extraditions … like, for what next year will be, should the universe grant it so, 50 years.)

    • Avattoir says:

      Dang me

      if I didn’t leave the Aus & Canada etc point dang-ling:

      EVEN THERE, Joan Q. Public tends to call every prosecutor “Crown prosecutor”, the seamless construction, regardless of whether whoever’s doing the prosecution is in fact directly or in reality only most tenuously connected to the symbol of national government power, The Crown.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks for taking the effort!

      My reasons for thinking it’s code are other than that, but you’ve made a really good case about what Goldstone would be thinking by the term.

      • SteveB says:

        Intrigued to learn more.

        Will keep an eye out for your further exploration of the topic when you are ready to share your thoughts.

  7. aubrey mcfate says:

    A suggestion on Russian-language content: paste or link to the Russian. It’s one of the more common second languages in this country and I’m sure a few of your readers can help you right away. The striking word here is “informator”, which is simply “informator” in Russian. Not sure how much a false cognate it is.

    • Trip says:

      Yeah, but what does that mean, exactly? Automated pop-up notices (program)?

      In Oxford dictionary:


      An instructor, a teacher. In later use chiefly: = informator choristarum.

      I still think there is an issue in translation.

      • aubrey mcfate says:

        Meant informer/informator. I was curious about the memos/e-mails Engel was discussing.

        Veselnitskaya bears an uncanny resemblance to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and not just a moral one. That scowl, those dead eyes.

      • aubrey mcfate says:

        I think it’s probably cultural. She might not have been thinking how “informer” sounds, when to her “informator” might describe an above-board activity of being a person who provides information, or a “source”. However, the correct translation is actually “informer”, though it might not be an exact equivalent, as with any translation.

        • Trip says:

          Someone who is legally representing an entity regarding sanctions against a Russian business/important Russian, and extended toward Russia, in general, would legitimately report and “inform” the government of progress, setbacks, etc. So whether she understood the ‘informing’ part as a normal process of her job, or admitted to being an operative or spy, is really up for debate. Especially since, as Marcy said, the MSNBC piece was sharply edited for a clickbait headline (whether authentic or not). The full context is missing.

          It just seems highly unlikely that a (current) Russian spy would admit to this on US TV, even if she is one. It’s like they accomplished the gotcha moment and then left that dangling in the wind.

          • aubrey mcfate says:

            Who’s arguing? I offered “source” as an alternative translation. Still, “informant” is not wrong and doesn’t demonstrate bad faith on the part of the translators. It more clearly demonstrates Veselnitskaya’s lack of fluency in English.

          • aubrey mcfate says:

            Who’s arguing? I offered “source” as an alternative translation. Still, “informant” is not wrong and doesn’t demonstrate bad faith on the part of the translators. It more clearly demonstrates Veselnitskaya’s lack of fluency in English.

            My apologies: I keep saying “informer” when the translation is “informant”. “Informant” is accurate, even if she probably didn’t want the connotations of that (still less of “informer”).

            • Trip says:

              I didn’t think I was arguing, just clarifying a point. I think we are both on the same side of the issue and reportage. We don’t know what was intended to be conveyed.

  8. SteveB says:

    @ Avattoir 6:05 a.m.

    I couldn’t agree more.
    The tendency to transliterate when it comes to identifying the positions of foriegn officials is universal.
    CNN for example consistently refer to Chaika as “Attorney General” , no doubt because they want their American audience to have the idea of the approximate parallell in US governmental structure.
    Attorney General would not be a useful parallell a British person would call to mind, because the Attorney General for us is a cabinet office held by an MP who is usually but not always a lawyer (and not forgetting the Scots element to our constitution there is also the Lord Advocate).
    It is for these reasons that I am bemused by the suggestion that Goldstone was not refering to Chaika.
    It occurs to me that the whole Veselnitskaya element may have been a ruse to give the Agalarovs some cover to raise suggestions as to how to negotiate with Russian government, ie to help them maintain the appearance of being honest brokers, an not acting as direct agents of eg Chaika themselves.

    • Avattoir says:

      Arg, you raise a point I’d missed (in my own transilliteracy):

      Former Brit Empire colonies which retained the use of the term “Crown” to describe the government interest, generally (not all, but most) have a cabinet-level officer named “Attorney-General”, who mostly plays a role distinct from that of the A.G. here.


      – the A.G. at least theoretically can be Deputy Prime Minister.

      – it’s not at all unusual for the A.G. in those countries to speak for the majority or ruling party in the national legislature

      – it’s actually the NORM for the A.G. in those countries to introduce and shepherd criminal law reforms through the legislature

      – while the A.G. in those countries is “answerable” for the decisions of those prosecutions under her or his authoritym, not all of them, or necessarily even most of them, are under that authority.

      Most criminal prosecution in those countries tends to be carried out under the authority of a provincial, state or territorial officer who may or may not be labelled “attorney general”, and very often is instead called something like Director of Public Prosecutions.

      Thanks: always happy to be corrected or improved.

      • SteveB says:

        It is a feature of the British (and hence post colonial ) systems that the law officers are parliamentarians.

        However, as a throwback the Attorney General in England &Wales retains some extra-parliamentary roles and duties.

        The Attorney General is the leader of the Bar of England & Wales  and was expected to be the public voice for the profession, though with the devekopment of Bar Assosiations representing different practice areas that role is largely symbolic. The AG personal consent is still required however for particular offences to be prosecuted. And in Treason or Terrorism cases the AG has the right to personally appear to conduct the case.

        BTW no attempt by me to correct or improve, just adding to trains of thought where it may be useful.

      • Bay State Librul says:

        Have you watched the “Crownies” on Acorn TV?

        “Marta Dusseldorp (A Place to Call Home, Jack Irish) stars in this prequel to the much-acclaimed legal drama Janet King. The young lawyers of the Office of Public Prosecutions find that their passion for justice collides with the realities of a system that struggles to protect the vulnerable.”

        • SteveB says:

          My Mum would love it; have to wait till it hits UKDrama channel which perversely shows loads of Aussie stuff.

  9. Trip says:

    JFC, The MSM has proven that what Wolf said is the painful truth; that the media buries honest reporting at all costs for access. Everyone has to “Be Nice” and take on a specific “Tone”. Thanks for your navel gazing which continues today, slamming her, with your obvious attempts to cover your financial stake in keeping the most vulgar, damaging, administration intact by arguing the BS “Both sides” must be given “Even” treatment, “Let’s elevate the dialogue” narrative, “I can’t hurt their feelings, I may not be invited back” tripe. And they see no fucking irony in the fact that dialogue is irrevocable screwed because of the president, his actions and words, along with his butt sniffing sycophants, who couldn’t get any lower if they were expert Limbo dancers. Count yourself in as one of them. Congratulations. Things are awful for the country because of Wolf. If only a comedian didn’t say such terrible things, this country would be on the right track. Do you even hear yourselves, FFS?

    COWARDS. Bottom-feeders. Codependents and enablers.

    History will take note in your part.

  10. Frank Probst says:

    Big picture question:  Why on earth is this woman giving an interview to US media in the first place?

  11. Trip says:

    And now Trump tries to use Veselnitskaya’s statement as proof of no collusion between the campaign and the Kremlin:

    President Donald Trump suggested Saturday night that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have directed a Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign associates in 2016 to disclose ties to Moscow recently in order to sow chaos for him in retaliation for aggressive actions he has taken against Russia.

    “I guarantee you, I’m tougher on Russia. Nobody ever thought. In fact, have you heard about the lawyer? For a year, a woman lawyer, she was like, ‘Oh, I know nothing.’ … Now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government. You know why? If she did that, because Putin and the groups said, ‘you know this Trump is killing us. Why don’t you say that you’re involved with government so that we could go and make their life in the United States even more chaotic.’ Look at what’s happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion. Give me a break.”

    GASLIGHTING, FFS. Everything that happens proves Trump’s innocence, even if it might infer the opposite.

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