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What is the Magnitsky Act Donald Trump Jr. Discussed With the Russian Lawyer?

by Countable | 7.12.17

When Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 under the pretext of receiving damaging information on Hillary Clinton, he didn’t expect to end up having a discussion about an Obama era sanctions law. But that’s exactly what he got, and the obscure piece of legislation — known as the Magnitsky Act — has played a significant role in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Russia in the years since its enactment.

What is the Magnitsky Act?

The bipartisan legislation — enacted in 2012 — sanctioned Russians connected to the death of Sergei Magnitsky or responsible for killings, torture, and human rights violations against people exposing illegal activity by the Russian government. Sanctioned individuals are ineligible for entry to the U.S. under the law, which also freezes the person’s financial and property assets in the country.

Sergei Magnitsky was an auditor investigating tax fraud by Russian government officials who was imprisoned and denied medical treatment for chronic conditions for months before being beaten to death by officers of Russia’s interior ministry.

What has its impact been?

Since the first sanctions were meted out by the Treasury Department in April 2013 against 18 people connected to the deaths of Magnitsky and others, the Russian government has pushed back against the law.

Among the retaliatory steps the Russian government has taken since the Magnitsky Act was enacted are passing a law denying adoptions of Russian children by Americans and issuing a "Guantanamo list" of U.S. officials prohibited from entering Russia. It also has continued to lobby for the law’s repeal through people like Veselnitskaya.

But they don’t seem to be enjoying much success in that effort at the moment. In December 2016, the Magnitsky Act was expanded to apply to human rights abusers globally when Congress tacked it on as an amendment to the annual defense authorization, after the Senate passed such a global expansion as a standalone bill earlier in the session. This April, the Trump administration announced it was in the process of implementing the expansion. There are currently 44 individuals sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act.

Tell your reps whether you think of the Magnitsky Act and its global expansion: Should it be enhanced further, or repealed?

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Anosima via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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(163)
  • Lynne
    07/13/2017
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    The Magnitsky Act is an important tool in the support of global human rights and should maintained and possibly expanded to regimes we know are human rights violators.

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  • Scott
    07/16/2017
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    Every time the Trump administration says that in those meeting with Russian agents, that they were just talking about adoption, that can accurately be read as the Russians were lobbying Trump to repeal Sanctions that were actively affecting the Oligarchs and Putin. This was more than collusion, it was at least an attempt to trade material support for a Trump administration lifting sanctions. That's called quid pro quo.

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  • Lisa
    07/13/2017
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    American citizens need the Truth and the GOP HAS BEEN HIDING IT: If you love this country, if you would put country over party then be read the following and consider where our country is today! http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/does-mcconnell-regret-doing-nothing-about-the-russian-attack?cid=sm_fb_maddow Personally, I feel the 12 people that were briefed on this last year should resign! Especially the Republicans because they allowed fear to overtake and underestimated the resolve of the America people and our country! So now, we have an unfit man in office and the GOP claiming ignorance! President Obama is the epitome of leadership! He's not perfect but he sought to share vital information for what should have been a unified decision .... here we are. NOW is the time for grown up men and women to stop the BS politics. No more changes should be made pertaining to our country so long as the current Administration occupies the WH. In fact, every change Trump made should be reversed until he can be replaced - and not by Pence. We MUST have a new election. God bless America!

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  • Cheryl
    07/16/2017
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    The Magnitsky Act is our best tool to defend and fight for basic human rights and it should be enhanced and expanded.

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  • Tiffany
    07/13/2017
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    What a joke! Once again the Republicans have tried to create a story out of nothing in order to mislead the American public. Finally however the American public is getting fed up with all of this nonsense about fake Hillary stories--- I mean, get over it, she already lost the election! And it's bringing a light the real story behind Trump and his rise to power via collision with the Russian government, lying to the American people, destroying email evidence, and using the office of president for his own corrupt gain. Eventually the truth comes out, doesn't it? :)

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  • JaredThePoet
    07/13/2017
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    I HIGHLY DOUBT that this is what they talked about in their meeting together. However, since we are on the topic of the Magnitsky Act, I'd say that if they are wanting to push back at us because we called them on their torturing bullshit, then we push back harder and put even more strenuous sanctions on them. This auditor was doing his job and investigating the crooked leadership in Russia, and he was imprisoned, denied healthcare, and beaten to death. Now, let me ask you, should our president have ever uttered the words, "it's an honor to meet you here today" when he saw Putin at G20? Should he have praised Putin on his Authoritarian leadership while he was campaigning? Lastly, should he have offered to create a joint commission to help aid us against cyber hacking, with the very man and his country that were behind the cyberattacks in the first place? Whether you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, this president that we currently have is ALL of our problems. Bring harsher sanctions on Russia and kick Assad's ass while your at it, killing innocent people is never okay or excusable. If we don't take a hard line against Russia now, when North Korea, China, and Russia team up in WW3, we would've wished we had gotten out in front of this nonsense.

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  • Jeff
    07/16/2017
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    This is why when they say "adoptions" it is a codeword meaning "sanctions."

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  • John
    07/16/2017
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    To keep and strengthen the Magnitsky Act.

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  • Lou
    07/13/2017
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    Do not repeal the Magnitsky Act. In fact it may be a very good idea to expand it. We need to take a stand against that type of behavior. As for Don Jr., well.....the apple doesn't fall far from the tree does it. I am very concerned about Congress being quite slow to get answers regarding the poor behavior of 45 and his staff/family. In fact, how is it that his daughter and son in law are able to hold positions on his staff? I thought a law was enacted to prevent that after Kennedy had his brother as AG. It seems the web of lies is growing every day. How long do we have to wait before you all begin asking the hard questions?

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  • Catharine
    07/16/2017
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    Support Magnitsky act!

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  • Leslie
    07/13/2017
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    I am glad we took actions against the Russians for the false arrest, torture, and death of Magnitsky; I'm glad the action was developed through bipartisanship. But, if we are to address false arrest and torture on a global level, shouldn't we clean up ourselves as well with regards to false arrest and torture first?

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  • Lisa
    07/16/2017
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    I know exactly what this law is about and how it is an important human rights tool. Trump and his family showed their true colors by taking this meeting then lying about it. Anyone who continues to support this family is on the wrong side of history.

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  • KansasTamale
    07/13/2017
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    Going to tell Jenkins & Roberts, but they are sheep who do exactly what the Russia colluding Ryan & McConnell tell them to. Going to call out Moran who is standing up against the Death Panel "Healthcare" bill so maybe he'll actually listen to his constituents. The Magnitsky Act and its global expansion should/ MUST be enhanced further to KEEP THE RUSSIAN SPIES & COLLUDERS OUT OF OUR COUNTRY & OUT OF OUR ELECTIONS.

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  • Drkenfp107
    07/16/2017
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    "Make America Great Again" does NOT mean "Be Manipulated by Vladimir Putin". There is no US interest to be served by repealing this law.

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  • Cheryl
    07/13/2017
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    When are you going to reel him in? When are you going to at least have a "Come to Jesus" with him? You are all being tainted by association now, and for not speaking candidly about the problem in the Oval Office. Incompetence is showing to be the rule and not the exception. When he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still follow him. Are you that supportive that you will take this country into the abyss?

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  • denali
    07/16/2017
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    It's past time for everyone to come together and stand up for the United States of America. Either you stand up to Trump/Putin or you are a traitor. Trump/Putin must be removed from the White House now. This is serious.

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  • David
    07/13/2017
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    Well it's not about adoption. This is. A Trick to ease up on the sanctions .

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  • Jacob
    07/13/2017
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    My only issue with banning adoptions (which according to Jr.'s emails isn't what they discussed but I digress) is that in my eyes you're simply holding children hostage. I may be misinterpreting the Act, but as a Russian adoptee, my life has been better off here in America than it would've in Russia. If this act is preventing wanting children from being adopted by US citizens you're simply punishing innocent children.

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  • Frank
    07/16/2017
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    Our Sympathizer President will lift sanctions contained in this act and return Russia's prime spying real estate in DC. Trump doesn't care about human rights so this is easy for him. He does care about all the Russian money he borrowed and the overpriced exclusive condos he sells to Russian Oligarchs. This presidency is about his brand and making money. The 🐘S sacrificed their values, their respect, and our Constitution just so they can use his right hand. Disgusting isn't it?

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  • Matthew
    07/13/2017
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    Strengthen Magnitsky Act, please.

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