Jack Abramoff had been at the Center of Republican politics his entire adult life, so him being involved with this Russia issue should not come as a surprise. As the President of the College Republicans, he wrote a letter to Trump Mentor Roy Cohn asking for money to help fund his goals. While working for the College Republicans, he cultivated with future Republican Stalwarts Ralph Reed, Paul Erickson, and Grover Norquist.
After leaving the College Republicans, Abramoff went off and joined the Council for National Policy, the secretive right wing group behind what the Clintons referred to as the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.” He founded a group to support Apartheid and also worked alongside Charlie Black and Paul Manafort to lobby for Joseph Savimbi in the 80’s.
Once the Soviet Union fell, it was open season for the Council for National Policy. Founder Paul Weyrich and Robert Krieble immediately opened Heritage Foundation offices in Moscow as well as opening the Krieble Institute. Russian oil companies started hiring American lobbyists to lobby for them over the time; including Rudy Giuliani, Jim Baker, Michael Caputo, and others. But, the most underreported but most important part of the Abramoff Scandal is his work for Russia.
NaftaSib, a secretive oil company that might be a cover for Gazprom created two shell companies in the 90s. They formed Voor Huisen in the Netherlands and Chelsea Commercial in the Bahamas. Both listed Abramoff as a lobbyist for them. Another lobbyist registered with Chelsea Commercial was Patrick Pizzella.
Abramoff used his contacts and other lobbying firms to bring Ed Buckham, Conrad Burns, Bob Ney and Tom to Russia to meet with the Russian government and Naftasib executives. Pizzella also used this time to bring Kellyanne Conway and the editor of the Nixon Center’s Publication, The National Interest on some of the trips as well. Ed Buckham used his 501cb US Family Network company to funnel millions of dollars from the Russians to Abramoff, which Ralph Reed also worked for.
In November 1998, Abramoff met Sergei Kiryenko at Dulles International Airport for five days of meetings with Republican lawmakers.
Buckham also ran a consulting firm, Alexander Strategy Group, which he used to represent Abramoff as well as Blackwater worldwide, the private mercenary force run by Erik Prince. Paul Behrends was registered lobbyist for the Group. Behrends was friends with Prince, and both worked for Dana Rohrabacker at separate points. When Delay was finally caught, he hired Don Mcgahn to defend him.
In 2009, The Council for National Policy created the “Conservative Action Project” aimed at making sure Obama failed at everything he did. The only paid member at the time was Patrick Pizzella, but former Reaganite Ed Meese and Kellyanne Conway were the other members of the C.A.P.
Don McGahn went on to represent Patton Boggs, a firm hired to lobby for Gazprom, before ultimately landing as Trump’s White House Counsel. Paul Behrends is the Staff Director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Paul Erickson is now working with Putin Russians. Ralph Reed joined the CNP and so did Grover Norquist, but Grover Norquist also joined the pro Russian think tank “The Center for the National Interest” which recently changed its name from the Nixon center. Erik Prince is considered a shadow advisor to Trump. During the Abramoff scandal, Bob Ney’s office manager was Corey Lewandowski. Dana Rohrabacker came to be known as Putin’s favorite Congressman and a close of Abramoff before becoming a Trump ally.
Is it possible Abramoff started this whole issue?
Read more about the Council for National Policy over at The Trump Watchdog!