Did Trump Make a Big Concession to Putin at G-20?

By Richard Morris & Eileen McGann

July 21, 2017 3 min read

At the recent G-20 meeting in Hamburg this month, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin met on the side with President Donald Trump for what they called an "informal" 15-minute session. Press reports indicate that they discussed "adoptions."

Presumably, this refers to the Russian ban on American adoptions of Russian infants that was enacted in 2012 to retaliate against the United States for new sanctions imposed by the Congress on Russians. The sanctions, called the Magnitsky Act, were voted to punish individual Russians who were complicit in the jailhouse murder of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was arrested after exposing hundreds of millions of dollars of corruption by Putin.

At the time of the adoption ban, Russia was the third-most popular country for infant adoptions with almost 1,000 adoptions each year. Putin wants the Magnitsky Act repealed by Congress.

To say that Putin and Trump discussed "adoptions" is a euphemism for the fact that they likely talked about repealing the Magnitsky Act. Because Magnitsky's charges of corruption were personally leveled at Putin and perhaps because he might have been involved in the murder, the Russian leader has pushed hard for it repeal.

The push to weaken the Magnitsky Act interfaces with the charges that Trump and Putin conspired to fix the U.S. election. The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and her countryman, lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, both were hired as lobbyists for a foundation pushing for repeal of the Magnitsky Act. And they were also both present at the now famous meeting with Trump's son and also raised the issue of "adoptions" with him.

To add to the mix, Fusion GPS, the research and strategic intelligence firm that hired former British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on Trump, also worked to lobby against the Magnitsky Act.

So we are driven to ask the question: Did Trump promise Putin to weaken — or at least not expand — the Magnitsky Act?

The fact that Putin's lobbyists raised the Magnitsky Act with Trump Jr., and that the dictator himself brought it up with the president, shows how important the question is to Putin personally. If Trump relented and gave in to Putin on the issue, it is a very big deal indeed.

The media, so far, has not penetrated beyond the description of the meeting as being about "adoptions" to get at the real issue beneath.

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Dick Morris
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