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FBI, Citibank probing Sergei Kislyak allegedly suspicious 2016 payment

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sergey kislyak
Sergey
Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the US speaks with reporters
following his address on the Syrian situation, Friday, Sept. 6,
2013, at the Center for the National Interest in
Washington.


Cliff
Owen/AP



  • Bank examiners and federal law enforcement are
    investigating a suspiciously large check deposited to the
    account of the Russian ambassador to the US, Buzzfeed reported
    on Wednesday.
  • The Russian embassy’s $120,000 lump-sum payment made in
    November 2016 to Ambassador Sergei Kislyak was twice as large
    as his previous annual salary payments, according to the
    report.
  • Federal investigators have previously probed Kislyak’s
    contacts with at least three Trump campaign officials during
    the 2016 campaign and presidential transition.

Examiners at Citibank and investigators from the FBI are
reportedly probing a suspiciously large December 2016 transaction
from the Russian embassy to ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Buzzfeed News reported on
Wednesday.

Investigators are apparently examining a check from the Russian
embassy marked “payroll” for $120,000, believed to be Kislyak’s
lump-sum 2016 salary, deposited in November 2016 shortly after
President Donald Trump won the presidential election, according
to Buzzfeed.

The $120,000 payment is more than two times the amount of
Kislyak’s annual salary in the previous two years, according to
financial documents reviewed by Buzzfeed. The branch manager at
the Citi location Kislyak used reportedly said the payment was a
salary, a claim Citibank financial examiners were unable to
independently verify.

Federal law enforcement, including the special counsel Robert
Mueller, has been investigating a larger pattern of suspicious
financial transactions made by the Russian embassy, but the
unusually large payment to Kislyak carries additional
significance given his contacts with Trump campaign officials
around that time.

Senior White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner
enlisted Kislyak in an effort to
set up a secure communications back-channel
between the Trump
transition team and Russian government using diplomatic resources
— which does not appear to have materialized — during the
transition in December 2016.


donald trump kislyak
President
Donald Trump meets with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in
the Oval Office on May 10, 2017.

Russian Embassy

Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn plead guilty last December to
charge of lying to investigators about multiple December 2016
conversations with Kislyak. As part of his plea deal, Flynn
became a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe.

They also spoke on the phone multiple times in the time period
between when the Obama administration announced sanctions on
Russia over their interference in the 2016 election and Russia
decided against retaliatory measures, a decision Kislyak told
Flynn was made “at the Trump team’s request,” according to Mueller’s indictment
of Flynn.

In March 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from
overseeing the Mueller probe after failing to disclose a
September 2016 meeting with Kislyak during his initial
confirmation hearing.

Mueller is investigating Russia’s 2016 election meddling, the
Trump campaign’s possible involvement, and whether Trump has
obstructed justice during the course of the probe.

There is no indication thus far that Kislyak’s unusually large
salary payment had any relation to his contacts with Trump
campaign officials.

Kislyak himself did not respond to Buzzfeed’s request for
comment, and the Russian embassy in the US did not comment on the
specific transaction, only stating that it did not violate any
laws. Buzzfeed had previously
reported
on Kislyak’s allegedly suspicious payments in
January.

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