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Trump, Scaramucci distract from ‘most important,' chilling Senate hearing

While Trump tweeted his transgender ban and Scaramucci cussed up a storm, a financier provided chilling testimony about Russian operatives and their American enablers.
Bill Browder Russia Investigation
Photo: Getty Images

Last week's news cycle was dominated by President Trump's tweet banning transgender people from military service and new communications director Anthony Scaramucci's profane tirade to the New Yorker.

In the meantime, the Senate Judiciary held what one senator called one of the Senate Judiciary Committee's "most important" hearings, which received very little press coverage.

Financier Bill Browder was scheduled to testify before the committee on Wednesday about the shadowy, violent businessworld of Putin's Russia, and the role of Russian spies in the U.S.

In pre-prepared remarks, he said: “I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests.”

On the day Browder was scheduled to testify, Trump tweeted, seemingly at random — with no advance notice to the Pentagon and military chiefs, leaving them stunned — that transgender people would not be allowed to serve "in any capacity" in the military.

Browder's appearance before the committee was rescheduled for Thursday. That was the day that Scaramucci's profane tirade to a New Yorker reporter dominated news coverage.

Browder's testimony went ahead, however. He described how he made a fortune in Russia, and in the process discovered a "kleptocracy" of wealthy middlemen that used corruption, blackmail, torture and murder to stay in power, led by Vladimir Putin.

Browder said: “Effectively the moment that you enter into their world, you become theirs.”

When the financier, who now lives in London, discovered a corruption scheme benefiting Putin, he and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, reported it to Russian authorities.

"And we waited for the good guys to get the bad guys," Browder told the Senate committee. "It turned out that in Putin's Russia, there are no good guys."

He was accused of tax evasion and banned from re-entering the country after a trip abroad. Magnitsky was beaten to death in prison.

 
 
 
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