Just over a month ago, we found out that RusAl, the largest aluminum manufacturer in Russia, was planning to invest more than $200 million in an aluminum rolling mill in Kentucky — the largest new such plant in America in four decades. In fact, we reported on it here at Political State and told you exactly what seemed suspicious about the whole deal.
The crash course for the uninitiated goes a little something like this, and pay attention because this all may be on the test:
- Len Blavatnik, a Ukraine-born businessman with dual US–UK citizenship, gives millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham, Senator Marco Rubio, and a host of other Republican candidates.
- In the course of the Russia investigation, we find out Blavatnik is partners with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch whose companies are under sanctions from the US government, and that Blavatnik is a huge investor in Deripaska’s aluminum manufacturing corporation, RusAl.
- Last year, Donald Trump begins his seemingly uneducated and ill-advised application of tariffs on countries around the world. The first product affected is aluminum. The tariffs are intended to vault American suppliers to the top of the supply chain by making imported aluminum more expensive than domestically-produced aluminum.
- This year, Mitch McConnell vows to — and does — get the US sanctions lifted from RusAl and from Oleg Deripaska.
- Almost immediately, Deripaska and RusAl announce a massive investment in an aluminum rolling mill in Kentucky — McConnell’s home state.
Now, there are other contacts and connections between McConnell, Deripaska, Blavatnik, Russia, and the Trump administration, but honestly, it doesn’t take but the most marginal of detective work to figure out what happened here. This is so obvious it wouldn’t even make for good television.
That’s probably why Democrats in both the Senate and the House are demanding an investigation.
In a letter sent to the Treasury Department and signed by Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters, the chairs of the House Intelligence and House Financial Services Committees, and by Sherrod Brown and Ron Wyden, the ranking members on the Senate Finance and Senate Banking Committees, Democrats requested that Treasury look into the investment by RusAl. After all, Deripaska himself is still under sanction, and the legal finagling that was done to make it appear as though he’s not profiting off the deal fell through when observers found that while his RusAl share would be proportionately lower and restricted only to final profits as they made their way back to Russia, he actually owns the bank that would make all the interest too.
It remains to be seen whether Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, will actually open an investigation of any kind. But at the very least, everyone involved now knows that lawmakers are on to their scheme.
Featured image is a screen capture.