Report: Russia interfering with US legal system

Report issued by nonpartisan think tank

By JAMIE EHRLICH, CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Russian government is interfering with the US legal system, according to a report released Thursday by the Atlantic Council, a prominent nonpartisan think tank.

According to the report, Russia has manipulated US laws and legal regulations for their own gain and increased their ability to litigate individuals within its "lawless" judicial system.

"The Kremlin will continue its relenting assault on its targets, including its attempts to directly manipulate and exploit the US justice system," the report reads.

The Atlantic Council unveiled its report Thursday at an event featuring US-born financier Bill Browder, who has been a target of questionable investigations in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin name-dropped Browder in his press conference with President Donald Trump on Monday, accusing him of orchestrating a massive tax fraud scheme in Russia -- charges that Browder vehemently denies.

Putin also suggested that Russian investigators could get access to Browder, and others, in return for American prosecutors questioning alleged intelligence agents in Russia. Browder said he was "aghast" that the White House was considering handing him over for questioning to the Russian government.

Trump called the deal "an incredible idea" and the White House said Wednesday that the President was considering the offer. However, on Thursday the White House said that it disagrees with the offer.

"Most civilized countries who have been approached by Putin to come after me have rejected those proposals," he said. "He should know that if I ever got handed over to Russians he would be handing me over to my death."

The Atlantic Council report details extensive "manipulation of the US justice system" by Russia. This includes the "abuse" of US bankruptcy laws and efforts by Russia to use American courts to force discovery proceedings against people living in the United States, away from the reach of Russian courts.

The report calls on the Justice Department and the State Department to establish an office to coordinate with US courts where "victims of abuse by corrupt governments could submit their evidence."

"Should we treat Russian judicial authorities as judicial authorities? No, we shouldn't," Anders Åslund of the Atlantic Council said Thursday. "A thief is interested in getting as much money as possible. A racketeer is interested in controlling the turf. Putin is a racketeer."

When asked how the US government can deal with these issues, Åslund said that the United States must shed light on money flowing in and out of the government "by demanding complete openness."

"The United States is the biggest money laundering center in the world, and it's being exploited by Putin's cronies, who are extremely skilled at corruption," Åslund said.

This story has been updated.

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