National Commentary

Gen. Kelly & the Palace Coup

Events and revelations of the past week, when considered in the context of the explosive testimony given by William Browder to the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, paint a stunning picture of what may have been a “palace coup” to bring Gen. John Kelly in as the new chief of staff of the White House.

A plausible scenario suggests that Kelly, a strong critic of some of the of the machinations by Trump, including the firing of FBI director James Comey, designed to stifle the investigation into Trump’s nefarious quid pro quo with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, was not welcomed in by Trump so much as he was deployed in by a network of patriotic military and intelligence leaders to lower the boom and begin to restore order.

Armed with the array of intelligence and classified materials that have been shared with Congress by now, Kelly and friends grabbed Trump by the collar and said, “Enough!” Trump’s sleazy buddy Tony Scaramucci was 86’d physically, escorted out of the White House.

The context was the overwhelming vote in Congress to harden sanctions against Russia, including, most importantly, removing the capacity of the president to remove individual entities from the 2012 Magnitsky Act protocol for imposing financial sanctions against bad actors. Congress had been briefed behind closed doors on the evidence of Putin’s motives involving money laundering through presidential relief from the Magnitsky act, and so was compelled to overwhelmingly stiffen the law’s provisions.

Kelly came into the White House right after to ensure that Trump will not veto the law or try other tricks.

Putin’s main interest in dealing with Trump, and in agreeing to help him get  elected in 2016 was Trump’s willingness, in exchange, to remove Putin-linked entities from the sanctions list so that Putin could resume laundering billions in ill-gotten gains through banking and investment systems in the West, especially in the U.S. Without such relief, Putin — who’d become the world’s wealthiest man by extorting all Russian oligarchs for fully half of their profits in an old-fashioned “protection racket” since 2003 — is severely curtailed.

This, according to Browder’s testimony, is Putin’s Number One interest. With an estimated worth of over $200 billion, Putin has all his money in the West, thus potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation under the Magnitsky Act provisions. Browder was once the largest Western investor in Russia until he learned how Putin was operating. His investigative lawyer, 37-year-old Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered Putin’s massive criminal enterprise and was arrested, violently abused and driven to death in a series of Russian jails. Browder’s testimony last week was called by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Con.) “one of the most important” brought before the committee.

Insofar as Putin’s original retaliation for the Magnitsky Act was to ban adoptions of ill Russian children by families in the West, the adoption issue became the well-known code language for lifting Magnitsky sanctions.

That was the context for the infamous June 9, 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower in New York that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort attended with top Putin intelligence operatives Natalia Veselnitskaya, the chief lobbyist in the U.S. working to address the “adoption issue,” Rinat Akhmetshin, Ike Kaveladze, translator Anatoli Samochornov and middle-man Rob Goldstone.

The Trump team was enticed to the meeting with promises of highly-compromising information about Trump’s presidential campaign opponent Hillary Clinton.

There can be no doubt that a quid pro quo was offered and the purpose of the meeting was the elicit Trump interest in going along with its terms, namely, the anti-Clinton materials in exchange for the removal of key Putin entities from the sanctions list. When any evidence arises from this showing that the Trump team responded favorably to the scheme, then grounds for charging treasonous collusion with this adversarial regime are established.

(The Trump team spent all last Thursday in a successful array of wild smoke screen activities to keep the Browder testimony out of the news fabricated an argument read at the White House briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders that Browder’s testimony exonerated Trump because it was noted that Fusion GPS, who provides “opposition research” to anyone who pays, had commissioned the anti-Trump Steele Dossier.)


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at