tv Washington Journal William Browder CSPAN April 27, 2018 10:07am-10:37am EDT
a vocal critic of the russian regime. let me show the headline from dq. bill browder -- enemy number one -- putin enemy number one. why? >> the russian government killed my lawyer. he was a russian lawyer living in moscow who uncovered a vast government corruption scheme. they he uncovered it, arrested him, tortured him, and killed him in 2009. hisde a vow to his memory, family, and myself that i would go after the people who killed him and make them face justice. we now have a piece of legislation called the magnitsky thatpassed in 2012, andses visa sanctions asset freezes on russian officials, and that made putin unbelievably angry, and it made him angry because he understood eventually that the money or those sanctions would get to his money. i think -- that was in 2012, and
there have been more and more individual targeted sanctions based on the magnitsky act and the sanctions we created, and the most devastating sanctions came about three weeks ago, in which the u.s. treasury sanctioned seven russian oligarch's, which created -- this was like a neutron bomb going off in moscow. putin sees me as the initiator of this whole thing, the person who has been advocating here in washington and london and brussels and all over the world to impose sanctions, and he does not like that. host: where else is the magnitsky act on the books? the united states, canada, britain, estonia, latvia, and lithuania, the baltic countries. and we and gibraltar, have several other countries on the boil. denmark, sweden, holland, france, south africa, and the ukraine. host: why did you have a russian lawyer? guest: i had the largest
investment business in russia. i lived in moscow for 10 years, i had the hermitage fund, the largest investment fund in russia. then covered corruptions in the companies and exposed it, and all sorts of terrible thing happened to me. i was expelled from the country, they have tried to have me arrested all over the world, threatened me with death, kidnapping, all sorts of terrible things. host: are you in fear of your life? are two things -- mi at risk of being killed? yes. am i in fear? no. to theow do you travel united states, all over with this threat? guest: i have to be more careful than you if i'm traveling to those countries, but there are protocols i have to put in place to try and minimize that. you can never eliminate the risk of assassination, you can only minimize or make it harder for the people who wish you ill to do something like that. your banking and
investment experience in russia is why you are in washington today. commission, what it is, and wire you testifying? guest: the helsinki commission is a congressional commission made up of members of the senate and the house of representatives, certain government officials. its basic job is to look at human rights as they relate to russia. the helsinki commission was the commission that initiated the magnitsky act in 2012, and they have been probably the staunchest defenders of human by the unitedia states. i have been invited on a specific case that i took an interest in, which is russia has gone after -- russia goes after many people, like myself, hundreds of not thousands -- if not thousands of other people. putin and his regime do it to extract money from people. if someone has a successful
business in russia, they try to take over your business and take your money. i was contacted in 2015 by a russian family called -- russian family who had a successful pulp and paper business in russia near st. petersburg, russia. many people, like myself, the russians came to them and tried to take their business away. they refused. their 16-year-old daughter was kidnapped and raped. they finally got her back, and they eventually took over the business and threatened the family with death. the family fled, and the first to latvia,ey went turkey, and were looking for a country as far away as possible that did not have an extradition treaty with russia where they could be brought back. they went to the little latin american country of guatemala. they settled there, they paid a thefirm to help with immigration documents. mother became a drawing teacher, the father became a math teacher at the high school, and they had another child in guatemala.
and the russians tracked them down in guatemala. here is where the story gets twisted. theressians convinced -- is an organization in guatemala, a u.n. organization called u.n. organization set up to fight human rights violations in guatemala. they had done lots of good work in the past, but the russians somehow, and to this day i do not understand it, convinced this organization, this u.s. funded organization, to prosecute the family for passport violations. they prosecuted the family for passport violations, took away the new child that they had and tried to stick him in an orphanage, and then they sentenced them, the father to 19 years in prison and the mother and daughter to 14 years in prison for passport violations initiated by the russians. the good news, the good news is that the court, the supreme
court of guatemala said that these people are victims, not perpetrators, and they should be freed. that came in yesterday. let's pick up there. what happens next, if the court ruled that way? guest: what happens next is the supreme court ruled that way, but the guatemalan court system is sort of played with corruption. the lower court has to ruled that way and let them out of jail. here is where the story gets horrifying. one-sided jail, they do not have any valid documents anymore. so the guatemalans, in theory, if they wanted to, could send this family back to russia to their deaths. it is a horrifying story, and these people have been living in a nightmare for 10 years and are currently sitting in a prison, not knowing whether they will be released to safety or released to death, and i and here to testify about them. u.s. government funds, this u.s.
organization, and there has to be a review of what is going on and why they played a role in this case. the u.s. is one of the largest foreign aid donors to guatemala. we should not be supporting russian vendettas against their enemies. host: the wall street journal editorial this morning, congress should get to the bottom of this outrage in guatemala. the end there message, the helsinki commission is ensuring that the law will be followed this time, but they also need to get to the bottom of what is happening at cicig. is that why you are testifying? >> i am testifying to tell their story from start to finish, and a you and organization helping? by the way, the organization going after them is on a u.s. sanctions list. where we paying an organization to work with a russian bank on
the sanctions list to go after an innocent family who is fleeing persecution in russia? these are absolutely damning, start questions that need to be answered. host: what does that say about russia in this case alone? it tells you one thing, which has been replicated over and over again, which is that the russian government has found ways of exploiting all sorts of -- exploiting and corrupting international institutions. the cicig, what are they doing thing?d in this it is not just cicig. in my case, the russians have come after me with interpol arrest warrants. interpol is supposed thing? to chase fugitives. so they are going after political enemies of russia? we were able to fix that abuse with many members of congress here and in other places. we ended up finding a big amount of money in the crime that seculated skate --
exploited.sky the russians are poking around everywhere looking for weak spots, we cans that can be corrupted. host: i want to get our viewers involved in the conversation. what questions and comments you have for bill browder? republicans, (202) 748-8000. democrats, (202) 748-8001. independents, (202) 748-8002. you can join us on twitter as well or go to our facebook page. mr. browder, given everything that you just said, what do you do if you are the president of the united states who has issued sanctions? what else do you do? guest: the sanctions that he just did -- let me back up. i'm usually highly critical of every president and every prime minister everywhere being too weak on russia. the sanctions that were put in place three weeks ago, the oligarch sanctions, to go after the oligarchs and tycoons and
russia were devastating. this is the first set of sanctions i've seen from anywhere that hit putin right between the eyes. there were seven oligarchs who were sanctioned out of a list of 200 oligarchs, and the dandridge , the -- damage, the financial damage in russia is unbelievable. people are losing billions. host: howdy you know? guest: look at the stock prices. you can calculate it on your screen. billions and billions. for the first time, we have done something that they can't retaliate. we cannot lose billions in the same way they are losing billions because we do not have that money in russia. this is the policy. and it was perfectly pitched in my opinion, because the message do,here are 193 more we can which we will do, and because we have crossed the rubicon now to go after these types of people. it was very interesting because putin, who was always full of
bluster and anger, did not respond. in a boxing match, he got hit so hard in the head his head is wobbling. he is seeing double right now because we finally figured out a way to hit him between the eyes. i would say that is the perfect response to all the dirty business that russia is doing in the world. my big message is not even to the united states at this point, except to tell members of congress that we finally got them, but go to other countries and say we have to replicate this. host: one of them being the united kingdom, after the poisoning attack of a former russian agent in their country? indeed, indeed. i have told members of parliament in the u.k. and set a very publicly that if the u.k. does not replicate the u.s. sanctions list, they are laying out the red carpet for more chemical weapons attacks from russia. host: what about the expulsion of russians? 60 were expelled from this
country, and the new york times had an article after this poisoning about the oligarchs that have property in london and how london law on the books incentivized the oligarchs to come to that country and invest with real estate. guest: london is the money laundering capital of the world. we think of britain as being as being -- britain as being a very religion in place -- legitimate place, they speak well, have good courts, but they do not enforce laws when it comes to money laundering. i have seen it or stand in connection with the magnitsky , and it is a shocking mismanagement of criminal justice. host: what more can they do? should they expel these oligarchs? guest: they should do exactly what the u.s. has done, which is imposing visa free shanks and on the oligarchs, and that would be very powerful. host: let's go to jack in rhode
island, republican. go ahead. caller: yeah, hi, good morning. we know mr. router is a very wealthy man, and that is fine with us. i have to admit he is probably one of the only very wealthy people that actually goes on tv and takes questions from middle-class americans, upper-middle-class americans. my ancestry happens to be german, like the host. the question i have -- when are we finally going to resolve these issues with russia? you know, we have been having a cold war,; more conflict with coldfor years -- semi war conflict with them for years. have nuclear weapons that can eliminate the united states. it will eliminate everybody.
guest: a great question. who is picking a fight with who? that is the real question. it was not the united states that took over the ukraine, it was not the united states that was carpet bombing children and not the syria, it was united states that she did in the olympics, and not the united states that shot down nh 17. it is not the united states running around the world influencing and bastardizing all elections in every other country, it was russia and vladimir putin. vladimir putin is picking fights, and the reason he is picking fights is because his economy is the size of the state of new york. this is not an economic superpower, his military budget is 5% of the u.s. military budget, so the only way he can be relevant and a top world leader is by doing all of this nasty stuff. we do not want a war with russia, but we want to contain russia because he is out of control. host: barbara, massachusetts,
democrat. you are next. caller: good morning. i'm just calling to thank mr. browder for what he has done over all of these months, and how much clarity and information he has brought to the world through his testimony and through his work. want to try and make a comment that pertains to his future everyone'sell as future action, is because we are not where we were at the or sixng of -- beginning months ago. we are here now with this radically different information set. now we can go forward -- i was chrisatching cnn, and cuomo was interviewing christopher wylie about what happened with cambridge analytica and all of that, and the totality of rachel maddow's work is incredible. the woman should be on the amount rushmore of media, as far as i am concerned.
i want is now to think about ok, there is going to come in and to this, -- come and end to this and psychologically after this. host: let's take that point, because i'm wondering if mr. browder has some thoughts on that. guest: the most important thing you said, and i agree with it, is that the truth is we are in a different place than where we were before, and what always happens in these situations is the truth always comes out in the end. we will know everything about everything as far as russia is concerned, as far as whether there was a wasn't collusion, it will become clear and transparent. technology has moved faster than regulation, so we have all of these people using all technologies, and we do not know how to control it. i am quite optimistic about all of this crazy stuff that has
happened is not going to happen in the future, because we will have figured it out by then and put in controls and regulations so it does not happen in the future. independent.exas, caller: good morning. i nodded next bird on this issue. i am trying to gather more information about the relation -- i am not an expert on this issue. i'm trying to gather more information about the relationship between russia and the united date, and as an independent, i am looking at this, looking at trump, and i have not seen any sort of -- there has not been any evidence of collusion. i think the election was run fair. perhaps russia was trying to get involved one way or the other, but it is not unlike the united states and what we do around the world in influencing policy and elections in other countries. we do meddle in other countrie'' so i don't want
the united states to be a hypocrite, if that makes sense. isst: i guess the answer that probably you, me, and all of us watching the show, none of us know for sure what is going on with all of this. discuss from our armchairs whether there was collusion or was not, but the beauty of the american system is that there was enough of the fear that there was that we now have a special prosecutor, robert mueller who is in place and has powers 1000 times greater than any of us could to wiretap,, subpoena, go and interview people, and i think we will know the answer, whether there was or wasn't. i don't know. i think we will find out the answer, and it will become clear when he gives us that answer. host: anything from what you
have learned publicly, in the newspapers like us, that stands out to you in this investigation? to me thats clear russia really got involved in our elections. they got involved through facebook, twitter, hacking, disinformation and information leaking, etc. they got involved. there is no question, and it has been confirmed by everything i know and by people who know a lot more than i do. know is whether that was their own private initiative or whether they did that in conjunction and collusion with somebody else. we will find out soon enough, but it is absolutely clear to me -- and it is not just us they are messing with. we are doing it in france, germany, the u.k., everywhere, and an industrial scale. host: let's hear from john, pennsylvania, democrat. hi, thank you for c-span. mr. browder, my question to you
is about with the russians and everything, a couple comments. number one, to think mueller will follow the money, that is where you can always figure things out, the second point would be the new yorker magazine -- this is a plug, basically. they had a very good article about active measures, the steele dossier, and my concern thatat moving forward is russia, north korea, other rogue states could punch way above their weight because they have become very adept at cyber warfare, not that we are not but the russians have learned a lot from us and are throwing it back in our face. your comments? guest: as far as cyber warfare goes, what the russians are doing i would not call cyber warfare. i would call it hacking, misinformation, disinformation, which are coming from cutouts and plausibly deniable intermediaries.
if russia were to ever think about taking down and electricity grid using cyber warfare, that would be an act of war and the united states has the ability, the cyber abilities with its nato allies to a tally eight -- retaliate in a devastating way and send russia back to the dark ages on a cyber basis. i do not think putin whatever be so stupid as to do that. what putin likes to do is plausibly deniable, guerrilla warfare, asymmetric tactics which cannot be proven to be him and are sort of poking around the edges, but not hitting the core. that is where everybody -- we all live in a world of innocent until proven guilty and so on and so forth, and putin takes advantage of all that with this stuff. it is requiring us to change our tactics.
it is very interesting in the u.k., they now publish, the u.k. government publishes a list of russian lies about different things in relation to the chemical weapons attack in relations to syria, because russia is so openly lying about stuff. no government ever had to do that before. diplomacy has broken down. there is no longer diplomacy in dealing with russia because of these crazy actions. figure it out, but we are effectively dealing with a new type of threat. host: frank, oklahoma, independent. caller: thanks for taking my call. mr. browder, i have been watching all the news and falling all of this -- following all of this dossier weirdness and the special prosecutor everything. but it appears -- i am agreeing with some talking heads -- that there has been a coup d'etat against our president, trying to him from office.
the day of his inauguration, there was rioting in the streets that had been planned long before. can you talk to us about that please? well, there is no coup d'etat. the president of the united states of america is donald trump. he remains president with a solid situation where nothing has changed. i have been in countries and dealt with countries where there is a coup d'etat, and there is none here. what you are talking about is are there some people angry peoplet, there are some who are happy about it. that is the beauty of the american way, people can say what they think. is any kindnk there of unconstitutional replacement of power here, and that is what makes this country so great, that everyone can say what they want to say and the country can still go on. that is not what happens in africa, asia, and other places where the military comes in and illegally removed the democratically elected president and things like that. that is not happening here. you spoke about the size
of the russian economy, not being as big as some people might think. what about vladimir putin's personal wealth? guest: well, it is a lot bigger than trump's. on whose measurement of trump's. worth $220tin is billion. that might sound crazy to you, but he has a 50% stake in almost everybody's personal wealth. he is like the mafia boss, and wanthe came in, he said i 50% from everybody. in doing so, he became the richest man in the world. he does not keep that money in his own name, he keeps it in the name of anna dark -- oligarch trustees, and it is invested host: he went after your company. guest: in the most vicious way
you can imagine. we paid $230 million of taxes to the russian government. our offices, took our documents and did in identity theft of our companies, then refunded $230 million in taxes, the single largest tax refund in the history of russia done illegally based on a fraud. discovered by my lawyer, he was tortured and killed. then they put him on trial for years after they killed him, the first ever trial against a dead man. host: were you in russia when this happened? expelled in 2005. explain the days of expulsion. guest: it was crazy. i had been living in russia for
10 years. i had taken a weekend trip to london. i was flying back to moscow. i was stopped. through the mosque on a national airport. i was sitting in the vip lounge passport to be process. guards grabbed me and took me to the basement, locked me up. i did not know that i was being arrested or deported. they grabbed me and put me on a flight, deported me and declared me a threat to national security. thank god they deported me or i would be dead. host: mark and indiana. caller: good morning. i was wondering about our guest. 1945, his35 in
grandfather was the head of the communist party in the united states. would you like to expand on that. , he went grandfather to russia in 1927 as a labor union organizer. he met my grandmother in russia. my father was born in russia. they returned to america. he ran for president in 1936 and 1940 on the communist ticket. he was put in jail by roosevelt. he was pardoned in 1942 am an expelled from the communist party for not being a good enough communist. he was persecuted in the era for being a communist. that is my family legacy. i am 54 years old. when i was going through my teenage rebellion, i decided to put on a suit and tie and become a capitalist. that is how i ended up being a capitalist. in the berlin wall came down, i
said i'm going to be the biggest capitalists in russia. -- biggest capitalists in russia. william browder. you can go to are >> the u.s. house should be back in about 10 minutes or so. couple of amendments votes and final passage vote coming and the house will be done until may 7 off for fair district work period. also news, the house intelligence committee declared an end to the russia probe. saying in the final report, they found in evidence the trump campaign colluded with russia in the 2016 presidential campaign. we have a link of that report on c-span.org. you can read it there. the president tweeting about that this morning as well.