What’s the Weldon connection?
According to Natasha Bertrand’s reporting, former Congressman Curt Weldon is involved due to his knowledge of (or even participation in) the “loop of connected dots” outlined in my previous post. Since I’ll be referring to those dots, I’ll repeat them here:
Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg -->
- His company, Renova -->
- $500,000 in payments to Cohen -->
- Slush fund to promote Cohen’s plan to lift sanctions on Russia that would benefit -->
- Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg
Before discussing Weldon’s involvement, we need to introduce another character in this motley crew: Andrii Artemenko, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament. He’s the guy, along with Cohen (Trump’s lawyer), and Felix Sater (convicted felon and Trump associate) who hatched the plan to lift sanctions which were imposed on Russia after they annexed Crimea. This plan is of great interest to Mueller since it may represent a quid pro quo between Putin and Trump. (“I’ll help you win the election, Donald, but then you’re going to lift sanctions on my companies.”)
Here’s where Weldon comes in: he’s a long-time acquaintance of Artemenko. One of Bertrand’s sources says that Weldon claimed he and Artemenko had secured financial backing for the promotion of Artemenko’s plan from “Viktor Vekselberg’s fund in New York City.” And the source further identified this fund as Columbus Nova which is a subsidiary of Vekselberg’s Russian company, Renova. So if this source can be believed, Weldon, at the very least, had knowledge of a plot to secretly use funds funneled from Russian to New York to lobby in the U.S. (a crime) and he may have even actively participated in this crime. Further, there’s the question of the possible quid pro quo between Putin and Trump – we don’t know what Weldon may have known about that. (I’m paraphrasing here, so you may want to refer to the article for the exact quotations and additional details.)
Bertrand’s source is backed up by more recent reporting. Here’s more from the article:
Columbus Nova gave more than $500,000 to Cohen’s LLC, Essential Consultants, over a seven-month period in 2017. Weldon’s alleged reference to Columbus Nova, and his comment about Vekselberg’s role in funding the plan’s promotion, renews questions about what that $500,000 was actually for.
So now we can look again at the “connected dots” above. In the second dot, recall that Vekselberg’s Russian company, Renova, owns Columbus Nova in New York which made the payments to Cohen. Weldon appears to have strong connections to dots three and four – either because he knew about the movement of these payments or he actually helped facilitate them.