The Trump administration admits that it derived a list of wealthy Russian oligarchs that it was required to submit to Congress from a list of wealthy Russian businessmen on Forbes.com. Asked if there was any truth to the rumors that the list was inspired from the Forbes list, a Treasury spokesperson said, “yes.”
“The names of and net worth of oligarchs in the unclassified version of the report were selected based on objective criteria drawn from publicly available sources,” the official said. A classified version of the list reportedly includes additional names.
According to a law passed in July, the Treasury Department was supposed to submit a report identifying significant senior political figures and oligarchs in Russia as determined by their “closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth.” The report was also supposed to determine the level of closeness of those on the list to Russian President Vladimir Putin in particular, as well as the level of corruption associated with those individuals.
The report was to be called the “Kremlin list” and the deadline for submitting it was yesterday. Officials from various government agencies, according to reports, followed Congress’ instructions and produced a credible intelligence product.
But at the last minute, someone within the administration threw that report out and instead wrote down 114 names of Russian government officials from the Kremlin’s website, and ninety-six names from a Forbes list of Russian billionaires.
Democrats on Capitol Hill reacted angrily, feeling the administration is thumbing its nose at the bill Congress passed. “We expected the administration to take this issue seriously,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, the Democratic ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Earlier in the day, Senators reacted with confusion about the administration’s decision to not level sanctions against Russia for their meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The sanctions directive was another provision laid out in the bill.
“That is perplexing to me,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. The bill was “not partisan in the least,” she said.
There were five combined no votes in the House and the Senate when Congress passed the bill in July.