Report: Trump Sides With Russian Organized Crime Figure Over U.S. Diplomats
President Donald Trump retweeted a controversial allegation that a top U.S. diplomat fabricated information about Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash years ago — a diplomat who just happens to be a key witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry.
According to The Daily Beast, Trump boosted a tweet from conservative talk radio host Scott Adams, which linked to a Breitbart story alleging that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor lied about Firtash admitting his connection to the Russian mob.
In a 2008 State Department cable, later made public by WikiLeaks in 2010, Taylor said Firtash “acknowledged ties to Russian organized crime figure [Semion] Seymon Mogilevich.”
Taylor also wrote that Firtash said “he needed Mogilevich's approval to get into business in the first place” but insisted he engaged in no criminal activity himself.
After the cable hit the public sphere, Firtash denied having made such statements to Taylor, saying in a statement on his website that he “has never stated, to anyone, at any time, that he needed or received permission from Mr. Mogilevich to establish any of his businesses.”
Earlier this year, The Daily Beast noted, Firtash repeated his claims and suggested that an unnamed American official must have fabricated the information about Mogilevich.
The Justice Department appears to disagree, however, describing Firtash in court as an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime."
The oligarch is currently in Vienna, Austria, fighting extradition to the U.S., after the Justice Department charged Firtash in 2014 “with helming a conspiracy to bribe Indian government officials.”
In court, the federal government said prosecuting Firtash, along with his co-defendant in the alleged scheme, “will disrupt this organized crime group and prevent it from further criminal acts within the United States."
But Trump appears to be siding with Firtash in the matter, as his retweet supports the notion that Taylor fabricated information and opens a new avenue of attack for the president’s allies.
The Daily Beast reported that this particular defense of Firtash first appeared over the summer “when columnist John Solomon, whose articles informed Rudy Giuliani’s Biden-Ukraine investigation, published a piece in July claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s deputy said Firtash’s criminal charges in the U.S. might “go away” if he shared damaging information about Trump with Mueller’s team.”
Coincidentally, Firtash and Solomon are represented by the same attorneys: Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova.
“The husband-wife team are veterans of the conservative movement’s most contentious legal battles, with longstanding ties in the Justice Department and Trump administration,” The Daily Beast noted.