‘US Person 2’ in the case of alleged Russian agent Maria Butina is George O’Neill — his daughter interned for Dana Rohrabacher and helped with an anti-Magnitsky event

New research reveals another link between alleged Russian agent Maria Butina and Pro-Russia congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Maria Butina photo Dana Rohrabacher photo
Photo left courtesy Maria Butina’s Facebook page and Photo right courtesty Gage Skidmore via flickr

Several recent bombshells in the Trump-Russia investigation provide mounting evidence of Russian collusion with US citizens and with members of Trump’s inner circle before and after the 2016 election.

On July 15 Russian national Maria Butina was arrested by the FBI and charged with conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent working at the direction of the Russian government with US persons. Charges include conspiracy to infiltrate organizations active in US politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian Federation. News reports have described how Butina was directed by Alexander Torshin, a former politician with close ties to the Kremlin, as she set up joint businesses with Paul Erickson and infiltrated the NRA.

Additional reporting has revealed that Maria Butina met several times with Saul Anuzis, an NRA committee member who set up a super PAC for Robert Mercer and whose son, Matas Anuzis, worked at Cambridge Analytica. Senator Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Cambridge Analytica in October 2017 requesting communications with several people including Maria Butina, indicating that Butina may have a connection to the scandal-ridden data company.

On the heels of the Maria Butina story, this week news broke that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen attended a meeting with several people where Donald Trump approved in advance a June 2016 meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, with Russians who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump father and son have both denied that Donald Trump knew about the meeting beforehand.

One person who connects to Maria Butina and to the Russians, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, who attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, is Pro-Russia congressman Dana Rohrabacher. He met Maria Butina several times and he has worked with Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin to help advance their anti-Magnitsky agenda.

New research reveals that George O’Neill Jr. — ‘US Person 2’ in Maria Butina’s court documents who helped her bring together Russians with politically active GOP leaders — is the father of Catharine O’Neill, who interned for Dana Rohrabacher, helped promote an anti-Magnitsky event and was part of the Trump transition State Department team.

George O’Neill and his daughter Catharine provide a new link between the Kremlin-backed work of alleged Russian agent Maria Butina and the Kremlin-supported anti-Magnitsky efforts of Dana Rohrabacher with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin who attended the meeting in Trump Tower that may have been approved in advance by Donald Trump.

Maria Butina and ‘US Person 2’ George O’Neill

George O’Neill Jr., an heir of the Rockefeller family, has been identified by the Washington Post as ‘US Person 2’ in the Maria Butina case. In February 2017, George O’Neill, who is an outspoken supporter of Russia, hosted a dinner for several Russian officials and US lawmakers before the annual National Prayer breakfast. Ahead of the dinner Butina communicated to O’Neill that:

“a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration had approved ‘building this communications channel.’”

Time Magazine report on the February 2017 dinner hosted by O’Neill and attended by Maria Butina, Alexander Torshin, Paul Erickson, Dana Rohrabacher and others, described it as an example of how Moscow was cozying up to the Republican right.

George ONeill photo
George O’Neill Jr.

According to court documents, in addition to organizing the dinner George O’Neill was included on emails with Maria Butina and Paul Erickson. From 2016 to 2017 O’Neill was included in communications regarding Butina’s efforts to arrange a series of dinners in DC and New York City with US persons influential in politics. At one point Butina told O’Neill that Alexander Torshin was “very much impressed by you and expresses his great appreciation for what you are doing to restore relations between the two countries. He also wants you to know that Russians will support the efforts from our side.”

George O’Neill Jr. has suddenly emerged in the spotlight as a key player in the efforts of alleged Russian agent Maria Butina to infiltrate the NRA and other important GOP groups to promote Russia’s interests. It should be noted that George O’Neill has not been accused of any wrongdoing. However, as he was helping an alleged Russian agent grow her network, his daughter was interning for Dana Rohrabacher, arguably the most pro-Russia member of congress, who was actively supporting the Kremlin’s goal of undermining the Magnitsky Act.

Maria Butina and Dana Rohrabacher

In addition to the February 2017 dinner, hosted by George O’Neill Jr., that Dana Rohrabacher attended along with Maria Butina, Rohrabacher had also met Butina two years prior when she arranged a meeting in St. Petersburg for Rohrabacher and her mentor, Alexander Torshin.

Despite the prior meeting in St. Petersburg, according to an ABC story published this past week, Rohrabacher said he did not remember speaking with Butina at the February 2017 dinner:

“‘Her job was arranging chairs at a dinner, a gopher, and I sat at the opposite end of the table,’ Rohrabacher said.”

This description of Butina as a gopher arranging chairs is the exact opposite of the goal Butina described in court documents of being presented in a senior role to maximize her opportunity to meet important US leaders. In one communication to a Russian official Butina described the “need to see me not as the delegation ‘organization committee’ but as your partner and colleague” and with “status as a key figure.”

It seems incredulous that Rohrabacher who has worked so hard to further the interests of Russia, would really consider Butina, who had back channel communications with the Kremlin, like a gopher. Rather his comment seems intended to downplay the importance of his interactions with her and about his involvement with other Russians on multiple fronts.

Rohrabacher’s Kremlin backed anti-Magnitsky work

The same month in June 2016 that Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin met with Donald Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort at Trump Tower, they were also coordinating with Dana Rohrabacher to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill.

Nico Hines reported in the Daily Beast that Rohrabacher tried to set up a congressional hearing where Veselnitskaya and another witness would confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie.

During an April 2016 trip to Moscow the prior year Rohrabacher and his staff director Paul Behrends, received a document from the Prosecutor General’s office that suggested holding a hearing “that would re-examine the sanctions placed on Russia.”

Rohrabacher received a film from the Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow which was run by Yuri Chaika, who was also involved with reviewing the information Natalia Veselnitskaya prepared for the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Viktor Grin, the deputy general prosecutor who had been sanctioned by the US under the Magnitsky Act, helped provide Rohrabacher with the film that undermined Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act.

When Rohrabacher returned to the US, he appeared to fulfill several of the suggestions made by the Prosecutor General’s office. Despite his ardent pro-Russia views Rohrabacher has served as the chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, and he delayed the passage of the Global Magnitsky Act by holding it up in committee. He presented an unsuccessful amendment to remove Magnitsky’s name from the title of the act and referenced points from the document provided by the Russian Prosecutor General’s office.

Rohrabacher then worked with Paul Behrends and Rinat Akhmetshin to organize a committee hearing that included Veselnitskaya as a witness. The hearing was cancelled, but the film that was supposed to be shown there was scheduled instead for a June 13, 2016 screening at the Newseum in Washington DC.

Rohrabacher intern Catharine O’Neill

Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was one of the people promoting the worlwide distribution of the film, received help with the Washington DC screening from Rohrabacher’s office:

“Invitations to attend the movie screening were sent from the subcommittee office by Catharine O’Neill, a Republican intern on Rohrabacher’s committee. Her email promised that the movie would convince viewers that Magnitsky, who was murdered in a Russian prison cell, was no hero.”

However, Rohrabacher’s office would later appear to distance itself from the event. When asked about the invitations, Rohrabacher’s press secretary Ken Grubbs replied to the Daily Beast:

“That invitation was not from our office. O’Neill was an unpaid intern on the committee staff. Paul denies asking her to send the invitations.”

Paul was a reference to staff director Paul Behrends, who had travelled to Moscow with Rohrabacher. It’s not clear why Ken Grubbs denied that Behrends had asked Catharine O’Neill to send out the invitations after all that Rohrabacher had already done to advocate against the Magnitsky Act. And it’s not clear why she would have sent the invitations on her own or who else may have asked her to send them out.

As the staff director, it appears that Paul Behrends was involved with managing Catharine O’Neill’s work. In an interesting coincidence several decades earlier, Paul Behrends managed another intern in Rohrabacher’s office — Erik Prince, who went on to found the private security company Blackwater and later hired Paul Behrends as a lobbyist for Blackwater.

While Catharine O’Neill, who interned in Rohrabacher’s office from June to September 2016, has had none of the notoriety associated with Erik Prince, it has not been previously reported that she is the daughter of George O’Neill, who is US Person 2 in the Maria Butina case, where her father is a key part of one of the most notorious stories in the Trump Russia investigation.

It is important to note that there is no indication that Catharine O’Neill ever met Maria Butina, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rinat Akhmetshin or any of the Russians that George O’Neill or Dana Rohrabacher had met. There is no public documentation of any interactions between Catherine and her father George regarding any matter related to her internship or work experience or of any kind. And as noted earlier, George O’Neill is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Sixth Generation Rockefeller Catherine O’Neill

According to a posting on LittleSis, a free database maintained by the Public Accountability Initiative which details connections between powerful people and organizations as a research tool for journalists, academics, activists, and watchdogs, Catharine O’Neill is listed as the daughter of George D. O’Neill Jr.

Catharine ONeill listed on LittleSis as daughter of George ONeill
LittleSis profile of Catharine O’Neill

A January 2000 Vanity Fair article called Irreconcilable Rockefellers provides an expose of the marriage and divorce of George O’Neill, the great-grandson of oil baron John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his ex-wife Amy Whittlesey, whose mother was Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Switzerland. The story describes Amy’s “nightmare of infidelity, perversion, and guns that led to her hospitalization for depression.” Another story in the April 2000 Sun Sentinal referenced George and Amy’s four children, including Catharine who was six and a half at the time.

2017 profile of Amy Whittlesey’s mother Ambassador Faith Whittlesey who was President Reagan’s Ambassador to Switzerland mentions Catharine: “My granddaughter Catharine O’Neill worked in the transition where everyone had to be very well dressed because the Trump family set a high standard.”

Catharine O’Neill has had an extremely impressive early career according to her LinkedIn profile. After the internship with Rohrabacher on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, she was a member of Trump’s Presidential Transition Team for the State Department from September 2016 to January 2017. In an overlapping period from December 2016 to November 2017 she was a George C. Marshall Fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Since January 2017 she has been Staff Assistant and Special Assistant in the US State Department, and is listed in a State Department directory as part of the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights.

As a political appointee, Catharine O’Neill was required to file a public financial disclosure form which lists two Rockefeller-related assets. The ‘Other Assets and Income’ section includes three items, cash between $50,001-$100,000, Rockefeller Intermediate Tax Exempt National Bonds valued at $50,001-$100,000 and Rockefeller Equity Allocation Fund valued at $50,001-$100,000.

A new link from Butina to Rohrabacher: the O’Neill’s

The arrest of Maria Butina for alleged conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent at the direction of the Russian government and with US persons is one of the most significant events in the Trump-Russia investigation.

The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where Russians said they would deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort is a key part of the Mueller investigation.

One of the few people who has ties to both is Dana Rohrabacher. He attended the dinner party hosted by George O’Neill with Maria Butina who said about the dinner that a “representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration had approved ‘building this communications channel.’”

And in a striking coincidence, or perhaps something more, George O’Neill’s daughter Catharine was an unpaid intern for three months on Rohrabacher’s committee and she helped promote the anti-Magnitsky film that had been provided by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office. Catherine O’Neill has since become a political appointee in the US State Department.


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