Hollywood is getting in on the Russia probe as more than 100 business and tech leaders gathered Friday for a two-hour briefing on the “Moscow Project,” a Center for American Progress independent seven-month investigation into the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 presidential race.
The event included a cross-section of people from finance, technology and academia, including Richard Ziman, a prominent real estate investor and Democratic party donor, Tom Soto, founder and managing partner at Frontier Impact Capital, producer and writer Ben Wexler, John Bendheim, president of Bendheim Enterprises, USC Rossier faculty Alan Arkatov, TV producer Cindy Chvatal-Keane and UC Berkeley’s Dean of Social Sciences Carla Hesse. It was hosted at the home of MarketShare co-founder and CEO Jon Vein, an entrepreneur and prominent Democratic bundler — politico speak for super fundraiser.
“We’ve invited people from both sides of the aisle,” Vein told TheWrap. “The bottom line is, it’s not about my team or your team, this is an infringement on our Democracy.”
Guests were given a digital presentation on CAP’s latest findings regarding the Russia probe, including a timeline of events leading up to the election as well as the latest on the investigation.
Representatives of CAP said their aim is educate Hollywood’s movers and shakers about its endeavor and, perhaps, get them involved.
“We need to spread our message far and wide,” Adam Jentelson, CAP’s senior strategic adviser, told TheWrap. “We’re trying to convey a narrative in the most effective manner and no one knows how to do that better than Hollywood.”
The center has been investigating the Russia probe for months, connecting the dots by piecing together information about Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his suspected collusion with the Kremlin. The information has been condensed into a two-hour digital briefing and presented to everyone from journalists to politicians and other stakeholders in recent months.
CAP, a progressive think tank, conducted its own independent research by recruiting “top talent from Capitol Hill, the State Department and private industry,” as well as experts in anti-money laundering investigations.
Following the trail of money left by oligarchs and using public documents to track their interactions, the project looked at everything from Trump real-estate deals, to the 2013 Miss Universe contest in St. Petersburg, to the now infamous WikiLeak email dump in an effort to untangle Trump’s ties to Russia.
“I thought they took a nice deep dive into the timeline of events,” photographer and artist Scott Nathan, who attended the event, told TheWrap. “I knew how far back it went but I didn’t realize how consistent it was.”
The event, billed as a “one-stop-shop” for the investigation into Russia’s meddling, went back as far as the early 1990s, when Trump, then a Manhattan real estate developer, leaned on Russian investors for his projects.
“I don’t believe in conspiracy theories,” Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at CAP, said. “But I do believe in conspiracies.”
“This is the biggest political scandal we’ve ever seen,” he added. “Even bigger than Watergate.”