When Bill Clinton Was Paid $500,000 to Speak in Russia, Hillary Opposed State Dept. Sanctions

Getty Images
July 18, 2017

Hillary Clinton sought to tamp down reports about her opposition to Russia sanctions that coincided with a speech her husband gave in Moscow that landed him half a million dollars.

Hillary Clinton opposed Russia sanctions in 2010 when her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was paid to give a speech at the Russian bank Renaissance Capital, Fox News reports.

The bank was connected to the fraud case that led to the sanctions posed by the Magnitsky Act, and after the former president gave the speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin called him to say thanks.

This story did not receive much attention while President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were pursuing their Russian "reset," but Hillary Clinton's campaign took pains to prevent the story of Bill's speech from getting out. In 2015, campaign operatives were able to prevent a mainstream media outlet from reporting on it.

"With the help of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to link HRC’s opposition to the Magnitsky bill a $500,000 speech that WJC gave in Moscow," Jesse Lehrich, who was part of Hillary For America's Rapid Response Communications team, said on May 21, 2015.

The memo was released by WikiLeaks, with "HRC" and "WJC" referring to Hillary and Bill Clinton respectively.

The Magnitsky Act's namesake, Sergei Magnitsky, was jailed by the Russian government after he discovered a massive fraud scheme. Some of those who orchestrated the scheme were with Renaissance Capital, according to William Browder of Hermitage Capital Management, whose company was defrauded hundreds of millions of dollars.

Magnitsky died in 2009 while imprisoned in Russia, after discovering how Hermitage Capital Management's money was being stolen. Browder had hired Magnitsky to track down the money that had been lost through tax fraud.

The State Department under Hillary Clinton denied requests to sanction Russia in 2010, and weeks later Bill Clinton went to Moscow to deliver his $500,000 speech. Bloomberg was set to report on this timeline five years later as Hillary Clinton was getting her campaign started, but her campaign intervened and prevented it from publishing the story.

Clinton was against sanctioning Russia in 2010, although she reversed her position in 2011. That year her State Department stopped issuing visas to Russians connected to financial fraud, and in 2012 the Magnitsky Act was formally passed in Congress.

Russian sanctions have become a hot topic in Washington for another reason, which is the Trump campaign's meeting with a Russian lawyer who opposed those sanctions. Democratic leaders have shown no hesitation to cry foul about President Donald Trump reportedly working to lighten sanctions on Russia, marking a dramatic reversal from when Obama and Clinton opposed them.