Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly turned his latest prosecutorial sights on a $150,000 donation Ukrainian Victor Pinchuk made to a Trump charity.
Mueller can investigate the donation, but it pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars Pinchuk bestowed upon the Clintons, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The Clintons have repeatedly jetted to his Black Sea resort to attend his galas. They’ve also accepted between $10 million and $25 million from his foundation for the Clinton Foundation, according to the group’s web site. Hillary Clinton rewarded him frequent access to the Department of State while she was secretary. Pinchuk also was tied to allegedly illegal sales to Iran while Hillary headed the State Department.
Pinchuk came into Bill Clinton’s social orbit as early as 2004, when the former president invited him to attend the inauguration of the Clinton Presidential Library, according to Newsweek.
Newsweek also reported the billionaire also attended Bill’s 60th birthday party in New York and his 65th birthday party in Los Angeles. Pinchuk loaned Bill his private jet on numerous occasions, according to The New York Times.
The Ukrainian also invited Bill to his 50th birthday party in the French Alp ski resort of Courchevel.
Hillary held a June 2012 dinner at her home that included Pinchuk, according to The Wall Street Journal. A note from the Clinton Foundation to Huma Abedin, Hillary’s State Department aide, described the event as a “Clinton Foundation dinner,” according to TheWSJ.
Both Bill and Hillary traveled to Yalta in September 2013 to attend the Pinchuk’s Yalta European Strategy meeting. Bill made the same trip in 2007. The Ukrainian oil and steel magnate holds his galas at Livadia Palace, “the last Russian czar’s summer retreat on the Black Sea,” according to The New York Times.
Pinchuk personally hired Doug Schoen as his lobbyist in Washington, D.C., in order to curry favor with the State Department. Schoen was Bill Clinton’s former pollster and a personal aide. He registered as a foreign agent and lobbyist for the billionaire. The billionaire paid him at the rate of $40,000 per month to set up the private State Department meetings, according to The New York Times.
Schoen is the same aide who also reportedly negotiated the $150,000 honorarium from Trump that’s now the subject of the Mueller investigation.
As his lobbyist, Schoen was very successful in opening doors for Pinchuk while Hillary occupied the top floor as secretary of state. “Mr. Schoen arranged roughly a dozen meetings with State Department officials from September 2011 to November 2012 on behalf of or with Mr. Pinchuk,” The New York Timesreported in 2014.
In 2012, Pinchuk “took a break from the Clinton Global Initiative to meet upstairs in a hotel suite with Melanne Verveer,” The Times reported. Verveer was a close Hillary aide at the State Department. The secretary awarded her a coveted ambassador-at-large post for global women’s issues.
The topics Pinchuk discussed with State Department officials aren’t clear.
Newsweek reported in 2015 it viewed “declarations and documents” from Ukraine showing a series of potentially illegal shipments from Pinchuk’s Interpipe, Ltd. to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products used in the oil and gas sectors. The time period coincided with Hillary’s tenure at the State Department.
The “high value” parts and products were worth $1.8 million, according to the Newsweek report, but at the time, both rail and oil parts were sanctioned by the U.S. government. There is no evidence the Obama administration took action against Pinchuk’s company for the shipments to Iran.
American steel makers filed a case in 2014 alleging that Interpipe Ltd. was illegally dumping special steel tubing in the U.S.
The Ukrainian’s financial fortune were enhanced by marrying Olena Franchuk, the daughter of Leonid Kuchma a former communist party chief whose scandal-ridden administration ruled the Ukraine for more than a decade as its second president.
His family relationship reportedly helped Pinchuk amass his personal fortune, now valued at $1.44 billion. “Pinchuk owed the rapid development of his business to a great extent to his relationship (which became a marriage in 2002) with Olena Franchuk, the daughter of the former president, Leonid Kuchma,” according to the Polish-based Center for Eastern Studies.
Kuchuma ruled the former Russian Republic with a tight fist between 1994 to 2005. The New York Times in 2014 characterized the Kuchma regime as “a government criticized for corruption, nepotism and the murder of dissident journalists.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists linked the 2000 abduction and decapitation of dissident journalist George Gongadze to the Kuchma regime. A tape recording released by the opposition Socialist Party alleged that Kuchma, along with his chief of staff and interior minister discussed how to “deal” with Gongadze.
“In casual, profanity-laced tones, they discuss undercover surveillance, deporting him back to his native Georgia, prosecuting him in Ukraine, or having a group of Chechens kidnap him,” CPJ reported in September 2000.