Russian Collusion? How About John Kerry?
During the past few weeks, we’ve all been treated to a drumbeat from the Democratic Congress and cable news that the President is a traitor and should be indicted, convicted, and jailed for who knows what. All of this based on the thinnest evidence, which could not even bring an indictment after 2 years. Well, OK, let’s play that game. Who else is “not, not guilty” when applying the Mueller/Pelosi/Nadler guilty-until-proven-innocent legal standard?
My candidate is John Kerry. And let’s call it the “21-to-1” case .
Before I get into it, let me say that I’ve never been a fan of Kerry, much like so many who don’t like Trump. I don’t appreciate arrogant liberal billionaires who are rich through marriage or inheritance. I prefer arrogant billionaires who have built something, like a lot of huge buildings. I thought he was a weak Secretary of State incessantly ingratiating himself to the Russians, the Europeans, and to our enemies, at the expense of deals that would truly benefit America. I resent his recent, possibly illegal, back channels to Iran. But most of all, I think he should be examined for his attempts to derail the Magzitsky Act. I keep asking the question, why would he want to help Vladimir Putin and his cronies?
To be brief, after the huge round of Russian privatizations of their national companies, which led to the band of billionaire oligarchs surrounding Vladimir Putin, the Russian government then began to seriously squeeze legitimate foreign-owned businesses, leading to the suspicious death of an attorney investigating Russian corruption, Sergei Magnitsky. In response to that and growing human rights and business violations, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress to put pressure on Putin and his allies to respect human rights and the rule of law. The Magnitsky Act basically restricted the ability of Putin’s cronies to use their new-found wealth outside of Russia. It had an immediate impact and is probably one of the most effective weapons the U.S. developed to encourage better behavior from the Putin regime. It was also initially frowned upon by Obama and Secretary Clinton, who were trying to “re-set” Russian relations and opposed the Act.
What is really interesting, at least to me, was the early vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Magnitsky Act. The only Senator who voted to keep the names of the sanctioned Russians secret, which would have essentially gutted the Bill according to those closest to it, was the Chairman of the Committee, John Kerry. The vote, which sticks out like a sore thumb, was 21-to-1.
Why would he do that? Most observers at the time assumed that he was just currying favor with Obama. Kerry wanted to be, and subsequently became, Obama’s Secretary of State.
But could it have been that Kerry had significant business interests in Russia? It is impossible to know. Certainly the Heinz Corporation appears to have represented around $3 million of Kerry’s wealth, but also perhaps as much as hundreds of millions of his wife’s wealth at the time, hidden in secret family trusts.
And, at the time, the Heinz business profits in Russia were reportedly offsetting some declines in Europe and elsewhere. And Russian tariffs on Heinz products were lowered almost simultaneously with Kerry’s vote. And that pattern helped make the Heinz Corporation even more valuable for the Berkshire Kraft-Heinz deal a year later, which gave around a 20-30% windfall to the Kerry-Heinz’s, which, in round numbers, is $1 million from known Heinz stock, but perhaps much more from unknown (“less than 1%”) holdings of the family trusts – it is unclear.
What does all this mean in today’s context? Well, a key charge against Trump is that his campaign took a meeting in Trump Tower in which a Russian Attorney tried to get his team to get rid of the Magnitsky Act to help Putin – exactly what Kerry tried to do. Trump responded by going after more Putin cronies. Kerry acted on policies to the benefit of the Russians. Trump has defied the Russians. Kerry may have arguably benefitted to the tune of millions from Russian connections. Trump’s non-hotel deal generated nothing. Honestly, who looks more guilty?
I certainly can’t prove conflict of interest, but applying the Mueller rubric that I also can’t prove that Kerry is “not not guilty,” it seems to me that there might be a much stronger Russian collusion case against Kerry than Trump (or General Flynn or Carter Page or Roger Stone), the FBI and Senate might use the above as a “roadmap” (it looks stronger than Mueller’s or Pelosi’s or Comey’s or CNN’s on Trump), and – who knows? – applying the Democrat’s political strategy, what’s ketchup for the goose is ketchup for the gander.