Controversy Brewing over Brian Benczkowski

The Story:

President Trump has nominated Brian Benczkowski, a partner at a prestigious multinational law firm, as Assistant Attorney General for the criminal division of the US Justice Department. But a confirmation fight seems likely, since Benczkowski has represented Alfa Bank, a Russian bank said to have close ties with the Putin government.

Background: 

Alfa Bank was founded as the old Soviet Union was crumbling, in 1990. It was created as a partnership, but became a joint stock company in 1998.

In a letter to the President last week, several Senate Democrats said that they would have to oppose Benczkowski’s nomination and they asked that the President withdraw it, in favor of another nominee who is “free and clear from Russian connections.”

The Thing to Know

The “Alpha [sic] Group” is mentioned in the infamous ‘Steele dossier,’ a sometimes speculative and even salacious document that circulated in well placed circles in the US in the months following the election of Donald Trump, about Trump-Russia ties. Steele says this corporation has a “current closeness” with Putin. It appears Steele simply misspelled the word. The Alfa Group is the larger umbrella entity that includes the Alfa Bank Benckowski represented.

 

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