WH entertaining Russian proposal to interrogate Americans in exchange for Mueller investigation assistance

The White House said on Wednesday it is entertaining a proposal raised by Russian President...

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 10:44 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 10:44 AM

The White House said on Wednesday it is entertaining a proposal raised by Russian President Vladimir Putin to interrogate Americans in exchange for assistance in the ongoing US investigation into election interference, putting the White House at odds with the State Department.

Putin raised the idea in his summit talks with President Donald Trump on Monday, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. The Americans wanted for questioning by Moscow include Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, and American-born financier Bill Browder, who successfully lobbied the US government to impose new sanctions on Moscow.

Sanders indicated on Wednesday no final decision had been made but that the proposal was under consideration.

"The President's going to meet with his team and we'll let you know when we have an announcement on that," she said.

However, at the State Department on Wednesday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert offered a more forceful denunciation of the Russian allegations than her White House counterpart.

"The overall assertions that have come out of the Russian government are absolutely absurd," Nauert said. "The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions American citizens -- we do not stand by those assertions that the Russian government makes. The prosecutor general in Russia is well aware that the United States has rejected Russian allegations in this regard."

On Monday, Putin suggested special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators could come to Russia to question the two dozen Russians that have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election. But in return, Putin said he would expect the US to allow Russian investigators to question what he called fugitives on American soil.

"For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case," Putin said. "Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States, and yet the money escaped the country. They were transferred to the United States."

Trump called the notion an "interesting idea" during his press conference with Putin in Helsinki.

Browder grew up in Chicago but gave up his citizenship nearly 20 years ago and is now a British citizen. His Russian associates uncovered a massive tax fraud scheme in Russia that was prosecuted in US courts. But Putin has accused Browder of perpetrating the fraud, which Browder denies. Nonetheless, Browder was tried in absentia and sentenced to prison in Russia, making him a fugitive of Russian law enforcement.

Russian media has said McFaul was named as a "person of interest" in the ongoing investigation into Browder and related matters. McFaul was US ambassador to Russia when President Barack Obama signed the Magnitsky Act into law, imposing harsh sanctions that Browder and McFaul supported.

After Sanders' comments, McFaul wrote on Twitter, "I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin."

In tweets this week, Browder denied Putin's claim that he donated to Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016. He also noted that one of the other Americans that Putin wants to question is former congressional staffer Kyle Parker, who Browder said "single handedly drafted the Magnitsky Act that Putin hates so much."

Browder was briefly arrested in Spain earlier this year, due to his criminal conviction in Russia, but was released after local authorities determined the Russian arrest warrant "wasn't valid."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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