Bill Browder defected from America, but afterwards, told Congress what law to pass. He made billions of dollars in Putin’s Russia, but is America’s go-to consultant on what foreign policy towards Russia should be. He based his life on “emulating” his Communist grandfather, and makes regular appearances in the media undermining President Trump
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Bill Browder is a subversive anti-American agent. But the fact pattern should raise a red flag. It’s not clear why President Trump, an American who has lived in the United States his entire life, is accused of being a traitor, but Bill gets bipartisan support.
Bill’s rise to fame began about a decade ago when he lobbied Congress to place sanctions on specific Russian people who abused human rights. Senators Ben Cardin and John McCain took up his cause and invited Bill to testify before Congress. Bill recounts in his book, Red Notice, that he brought Congress to tears with his tale about his colleague Sergei Magnitsky dying in a Russian prison.
The Senate passed the Magnitsky Act by a vote of 92–4 to punish Russians who would be listed by the White House. The Magnitsky Act was coupled with repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which meant that at the very moment we were allegedly punishing Russia, their trade status was upgraded and normalized. Obama signed it into law on December 14th 2012. It has widely been considered the cornerstone of successful American foreign policy towards Russia.
Bill remains politically active, and is regularly featured on America’s premier media outlets, from CNN to Fox News, where he is encouraged to speak freely. For instance, here is Bill weighing in on the alleged Trump-Russia collusion with CBS: “[Russia] wanted Trump to be elected.” And here he is with Newsweek, attacking the President, suggesting Trump is making us “swing wildly in the wrong direction.”
Despite the fact that Bill is a billionaire with immense influence on American politics, culture, law, and foreign policy, little to no consideration has been given to vetting his character, motivation, and credibility.
Bill renounced his American citizenship in 1998. This grants him a unique distinction as being a defector who got Congress to pass legislation, not to address wrongdoing on his part, but because he told Congress to do it.
He gives no explanation in his four hundred page book for why he defected. The media also stays away from this topic and generally introduce him as an “investor,” or here Fox presents him as a “British businessman.” Maybe they have a point. It wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it if they said, “and here’s the American defector Mr. Browder,” before asking him to comment on American politics.
One time, Newsweek did ask him to comment on his renunciation of American citizenship, and Bill explained that he did it because he had a “bad feeling about the rule of law” in America because of what happened to his grandparents. Bill just flat out doesn’t feel good about America.
Though the media is uninterested in pursuing this topic further, Bill writes about it at some length. His grandmother was a Russian Communist. His grandfather was Earl Browder, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States, and he made numerous trips to Moscow, while Stalin was General Secretary, to receive Soviet help with the subversion of America and promotion of Communism. To be fair, Bill doesn’t use the word “subversion.” He seems to think that Kremlin sponsored agents roving through Washington D.C. is legitimate.
Rather then rejecting Communism, the USSR, Stalin and Stalin agents, Browder attacks the American government for defending itself. He lashes out at the Senator Joseph McCarthy — who fought against Russian subversion and has been totally vindicated by historians — as engaging in an “infamous witch-hunt” and complains that, “it didn’t matter if you were a good communist or a bad communist” because the US government frowned on Stalin’s agents indiscriminately.
Bill has not responded to a request for clarification on how many times Earl met with Stalin, how much money the Soviet Union gave Earl to support his subversive activities in America, and how it’s possible for a Stalin agent to be a “good communist.”
As a young man, Bill heard a speech by the head of the United Steelworkers union and was so inspired he applied to help them out. He was rejected and thus “looked at other aspects of my grandfather’s life that I might emulate.”
He moved to Moscow in the 1990s and that’s where he passed much of his career, at his company Hermitage Capital Management, doing various deals involving large amounts with Russian entities, and making lots of money.
There is one business deal which he goes into particular detail explaining, where he gets a private offer to invest in a Russian oil company, Sidanco, which was controlled by the deputy prime minister of Russia. The shares offered to him were at a massive discount. The deal was a “home run.”
Later on, Bill writes that Sidanco tried to squeeze him out of his profitable holdings. He was on the verge of losing until the Russian Federal Securities and Exchange Commission stepped in to protect him. He denied or made no mention of having bribed Russians, subdued to blackmail, or making illegal deals.
In 2005, Russia banned Bill. He then hired an agent who “sold billions of dollars’ worth of Russian stocks for us without any leaks… Hermitage had successfully removed its money from Russia without our enemies ever knowing.” It isn’t explained how his enemies, Putin, the Russian secret police (FSB), or billionaire oligarchs, could allow Bill to accumulate so much wealth, but then get him banned, but then remain clueless as he moved huge money out of the country.
He successfully cashed out $4.5 billion. Bill explained, “With our people and money safe, we had eliminated the main levers that the Russian government could use to harm us. Whatever their next move might be, it couldn’t be that daunting.”
However, numerous Hermitage offices were left open throughout Russia. In 2007, the FSB raided the office of Hermitage in Moscow and then the offices of a lawyer he had worked with to which Bill exclaimed “Jesus Christ!” and thought “This was like being punched in the face.”
A fairly complicated corruption scheme was then perpetrated involving Hermitage, Russians, and the Russian government, the crux of which is that $230 million was fraudulently funneled, from the Russian government, through Hermitage, to other Russians.
This is where things get peculiar. Bill states in his book that he became extremely distraught and was determined to “bring these guys to justice.” He was effectively fighting for the Russian government at this point. He wanted to restore the money to Putin and the FSB.
He hired Sergei Magnitsky, “the best lawyer” he knew in Moscow (although he later conceded under oath that Sergei had no law degree), to make Putin right. In November 2008, Sergei was arrested.
Bill became even more distraught, “it’s an ordeal I have never stopped thinking about.” Bill wrote that he was “increasingly desperate” to save Sergei, and was “living in a daze.” Things got so bad he couldn’t even sleep in his mansion next to his beautiful wife without torment: “I could still touch and feel what love meant, while Sergei could only remember.”
It wasn’t until October of 2009, nearly a year after Sergei’s arrest, and a month before his death, that Bill was able to publicize the case with a YouTube video. Bill didn’t mention Sergei a single time. It was left to the narrator to mention that Sergei was arrested, in a single sentence, at the end of this ten minute video.
Sergei died, and Bill’s quest to protect the Russian government from theft seamlessly morphed into a quest to punish the Russian government for their role in Sergei’s death.
Bill didn’t seem to consider using his extraordinary wealth to directly fund freedom fighters in Russia. He also eschewed a focus on working with the British Parliament notwithstanding the factthat Bill was British. Instead, Bill flew to Washington D.C., and found a lobbyist.
He explained in his book, “I had no idea what I was doing.” That is, until he met the lobbyist Jonathan Winer who came up with the idea for the Magnitsky Act and also made sure Bill met with the lobbyist Kyle Parker, who “spoke perfect Russian and had a firm grasp of everything that was going on inside Russia,” at the US Helsinki Commission, and ended up proving to be pivotal in getting the Magnitsky Act passed.
It doesn’t come up in Red Notice, but The Hill reported that APCO Worldwide was going to lobby for Bill, and Winer was someone who worked for APCO. More specifically, Winer was the senior vice president at APCO. An FBI informant recently testified to Congress that APCO was working for Russia.
Winer has not responded to a request for comment on how much Russian money APCO was taking while he lobbied for the Magnitsky Act, nor why American foreign policy towards Russia should be designed by lobbyists for Russia.
Russia sent a delegation to Washington D.C. headed by Vitaly Malkin to address the Magnitsky Act, which was making it’s way through the legislative process, thanks to Bill and APCO. Malkin held a press conference and stated the Magnitsky Act was a bad idea, Sergei died because he was an alcoholic, and that Russian prison guards kicked Sergei. This had the effect of intensifying Congress’s push to pass the Magnitsky Act which they shortly did.
Bill makes regular appearances in American media where he repeatedly insists that the Magnitsky Act is the cornerstone to a good American foreign policy on Russia. He says that lifting the sanctions would be a “disaster for the safety and security of the world,” that the sanctions are “like a neutron bomb going off over Moscow,” and the sanctions were “like an Exocet missile going right into the heart of what they care about… Putin went absolutely crazy when the Magnitsky Act was passed.” This is just a small sampling out of the times he has asserted the paramount importance of the Magnitsky Act.
He is also wont to repeat that Putin hates him. Here is how Bill recounted the first time Putin publicly spoke his name; Putin was “stunned,” and “lost control,” he then “lowered his voice” and “furrowed his brow” before saying “Mr. Browder.” Today, Bill maintains he is “Putin’s number one enemy.”
The extent of Putin’s retaliation against Browder seems to be that he filed a complaint with Interpol alleging Bill was a criminal. Bill wrote that he became a “bundle of nerves” because “the Russians had me where they wanted me.” He explained his fear that he would be extradited from the West to Russia where something atrocious would befall him: “I didn’t even want to think about the horrors I would be subjected to after that.” However, there is no precedent for the West extraditing famous and popular billionaires to Russia, who then imprisons, tortures, or kills them. Two days after Interpol noted the Russian complaint they rejected it.
The Magnitsky Act has been in effect for over five years now and its benefits remain elusive. Russian aggression is at an all time high. It was after the Magnitsky Act passed that Putin invaded Crimea, undertook a campaign to sow discord in America via the 2016 election, and oversaw high level Kremlin sources planting smears against Trump in the Steele Dossier (which Winer helped disseminate).
Similarly, Russia’s abuse of humans rights is worse than ever. Recently, Putin forced the Russian historian Yuri Dmitriev to undergo psychiatric testing because he talked about crimes Stalin committed. This is reminiscent of Comrade Brezhnev’s tactics which were poignantly told about in To Build a Castle by Vladimir Bukovsky, a man who spent a decade in gulags and psychiatric wards fighting the Kremlin. Bukovsky has an extraordinary amount of wisdom to share with the world but got a rare infection, has been framed for child pornography just like Dmitriev, and is ignored by the mainstream media. When he left Moscow he was not a wealthy man.
There is a deep confusion in America. The analyst Jeff Nyquist observed that good strategy is knowing who your friends are and who your enemies are. We can’t seem to get it right. We parade a defector around TV to undermine the President and dictate our foreign policy.
All the while, President Trump is accused of being a traitor, and yet he is an American, who has lived in America his entire life, made his money inside of America, and vocally declared his love for America, always.