A new Rolling Stone profile of 55-year-old Hollywood actor Johnny Depp portrays the aging and scandal-plagued star as smoking pot with his 49-year-old lawyer, Adam Waldman, who, according to the article by reporter Stephen Rodrick, appears to be Depp’s “closest confidant.” But who is Waldman? Depp’s lawyer is better known as the big-time Washington lobbyist who has become a figure in the ongoing scandal over connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
As Rodrick briefly mentions in the Rolling Stone Depp profile, Waldman represents 50-year-old Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the metals tycoon who is now under U.S. sanctions, as Bloomberg News reported. In addition to his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Deripaska owns a 48 percent stake in Rusal, the Russian aluminum-making giant that collected $1.4 billion in business from the United States in 2017 alone.
But Deripaska has also emerged as a key figure in the Russia investigation, due to his financial ties to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, 69, who is now behind bars as he awaits trial on multiple indictments in the Russia investigation run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as the Inquisitr reported.
Deripaska backed Manafort financially during Manafort’s time in Ukraine as a chief political consultant to now-deposed, pro-Russian Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich, but the deal went bad and Manafort ended up in heavily in debt to Deripaska — to the tune of about $19 million, as The Atlantic reported in a profile of Manafort.
In an effort to get “whole” with Deripaska, that is to pay him back, Manafort offered “private briefings” to Deripaska in 2016, when Manafort was running the Trump campaign, as the Washington Post revealed. Why the Putin-linked Deripaska would want to receive inside information about the Trump campaign remains unclear, as does the reason that Manafort apparently believed such information would be worth the equivalent of $19 million to Deripaska.
But Waldman (pictured at center in the image at the top of this page), who has represented Deripaksa since 2009, was not a mere bystander in the Russia scandal, it now appears. According to revelations published by The Guardian on Wednesday, Waldman visited Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who remains holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, where he has confined himself since 2012. In fact, Waldman was Assange’s most-frequent visitor in 2017, going to see the WikiLeaks founder on nine occasions.
Assange has remained in self-imposed exile inside Ecuador’s embassy, where he sought refuge initially because he was fleeing sexual assault charges in Sweden, according to an earlier Guardian report. But even after the charges were dropped last year, Assange remained under Ecuador’s protection because, he has said, he fears that he will be extradited to the United States for his role in the Trump-Russia collusion scandal.
As the Inquisitr reported last year, Russian intelligence-connected hackers are believed to have used used a third party, known as a “cut out,” to pass emails stolen from Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign servers to WikiLeaks, which published the private emails online during the 2016 campaign.
But Waldman would not reveal why he visited Assange or what the two discussed during their multiple meetings, according to The Daily Beast.
Michael Carpenter, a Russia expert who formerly worked at the U.S. State Department, said on his Twitter account that during his time at State, “Waldman regularly shilled for Deripaska to try to get him a visa.” In the Rolling Stone Depp profile, Waldman is described as leaving Depp’s “10,500-square-foot rented mansion” in London to meet Deripaska in Switzerland for a cross-country skiing trip.
Whether Waldman’s visits to Assange in 2017, which came both before and after Trump’s inauguration, were made at Deripaska’s behest or with the Russian oligarch’s knowledge is also unclear, according to a report by Think Progress, which also reported that Johnny Depp’s lawyer was paid about $500,000 in 2017 by Deripaska.