The Russian lawyer who landed a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during last year’s presidential campaign with the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton had one big thing in common with the Democratic candidate: Both had opposed Russia sanctions targeting human-rights abusers.
Further, former Secretary of State Clinton’s initial opposition coincided with a $500,000 speech her husband gave in Moscow – a link her 2016 campaign fought to downplay in the press, according to WikiLeaks-released documents.
Trump White House officials now are trying to draw attention to that speech and the Clintons’ ties to Russia in a bid to counter criticism over Trump Jr.’s now-infamous meeting.
“If you want to talk about having relationships with Russia, I’d look no further than the Clintons,” Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing last week. “Bill Clinton was paid half a million dollars to give a speech to a Russian bank, personally thanked by President Putin.”
The former president indeed had received a personal call from then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressing his appreciation for the speech. According to Mrs. Clinton’s ethics disclosure form filed while she was secretary of State, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by the Russia-based finance company Renaissance Capital for his June 29, 2010, speech in Moscow to its employees and guests attending the company’s annual conference.
The speech is now coming back to haunt the Clintons, considering the company that cut the check was allegedly tied to the scandal that spurred the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill that imposed sanctions on Russians designated as human-rights abusers and eventually would become law in 2012.