Legal Insurrection has a good summation of the situation- as of yesterday! Today, even more is coming out. As it does, I am developing a theory about what is going on. Bottom line is this- Putin didn’t care who won. All he wants is to create chaos and division in America so he could maneuver globally without America getting in the way.
In this, he is winning with the help of the Left.
If there’s anything I learned from studying about and in the Soviet Union during college, it was that things were never as they seemed.
There always seemed to be a manipulation and deception, whether for a specific purpose or just because they could. Kind of like the Clintons.
Which leads me to the Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. My initial thoughts were in my post, Trump Jr. emails show amateurishness, but not “collusion” or illegality.
It may be that the simplest explanation holds: This was a pitch by Veselnitskaya to lobby against the Magnitsky Act, and the promise of “official documents and information” showing that Hillary Clinton had improper collusion with Russia was just a ruse to get her in the door. Trump Jr. was happy to take the meeting for the same reason that Democratic operatives were happy to work with the Ukrainians — getting oppo research on your opponent is one of the things campaigns do. That foreign governments were involved didn’t seem to matter to either campaign, though the Clinton campaign was more savvy in keeping a distance of deniability.
Another simple theory is that this was a Russian espionage operation, an attempt to penetrate the Trump campaign, sound it out on collusion, maybe even collude. Jonathan Turley notes that this “simple” espionage theory makes no sense:
Let me try to sum up this theory.
The Russians decide to reveal their super secret clandestine effort to secure the presidency for Donald Trump. So they put together a high-ranking, high-visibility meeting at Trump Tower without knowing who would be at the meeting. They also allow a creepy publicist to send an email discussing the grand conspiracy. They then do a Charlie Brown football moment and do not actually disclose the promised incriminating evidence against Hillary Clinton. Does that track with any cognizable Russian intelligence operation? What possible advantage is there in revealing their operation, promising intel, and then not actually sharing anything of value? The Russians are not perfect but they are not morons. If this was Russian operation, we truly have over-estimated our opposition.
Russians do not usually set up meetings at places like Trump Tower with an unknown number of persons to discuss secret operations. Setting up such a meeting would give others leverage against the Russians by disclosing their operation. Russians are not known to hand over leveraging information, particularly for nothing in return. Spies are by their nature control nuts.
As more information has dribbled out, I’m becoming suspicious that all is not what it seems. I don’t pretend to have the answers to what really is going on, but a few developments have stirred questions.
The Hill reported, Exclusive: DOJ let Russian lawyer into US before she met with Trump team:
The Russian lawyer who penetrated Donald Trump’s inner circle was initially cleared into the United States by the Justice Department under “extraordinary circumstances” before she embarked on a lobbying campaign last year that ensnared the president’s eldest son, members of Congress, journalists and State Department officials, according to court and Justice Department documents and interviews.
This revelation means it was the Obama Justice Department that enabled the newest and most intriguing figure in the Russia-Trump investigation to enter the country without a visa.
Later, a series of events between an intermediary for the attorney and the Trump campaign ultimately led to the controversy surrounding Donald Trump Jr.
Yet Veselnitskaya stayed far beyond the time period of her “parole immigration,” ended up at Trump’s doorstep, at congressional hearings, and all about town. Strange.
And as The Observer notes, Veselnitskaya and Hillary Clinton were on the same side of the issue, with a Bill Clinton connection:
In December 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hillary Clinton opposed the Magnitsky Act while serving as secretary of state. Her opposition coincided with Bill Clinton giving a speech in Moscow for Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank—for which he was paid $500,000. “Mr. Clinton also received a substantial payout in 2010 from Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank whose executives were at risk of being hurt by possible U.S. sanctions tied to a complex and controversial case of alleged corruption in Russia.
Nothing is as it seems.
No better words spoken. Because today the Guardian has more information as the number of people at this clandestine meeting grows to at least six. As one person said, there is no way the Russian intelligence people are involved here, they are control freaks and secret meeting in public with six people is something they would not do. Especially if one of those people is a State Department approved Russian interpreter whom the Russian lawyer uses all the time.
The latest revelation came as news reports suggested there were at least eight attendees at the meeting, which occurred at Trump’s eponymous New York tower shortly after he effectively clinched the Republican presidential nomination. The presence of additional participants contradicted Trump Jr’s assertion this week to the Fox News host Sean Hannity that all of the information about the meeting had been publicly disclosed.
Late Friday, the identity of a seventh person in the room was revealed to be Anatoli Samochornov, a Russian-born American translator who was working with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer initially at the center of the meeting. Veselnitskaya had previously informed the New York Times she was accompanied by a translator but would not provide his name. Ken Vogel, a reporter at the New York Times, revealed Samochornov’s identity during an appearance on MSNBC.
But it was the presence of Akhmetshin, now a pro-Moscow lobbyist, that raised new questions about the controversial meeting and its purpose. Akhmetshin dismissed reports that he has ties to Russian intelligence agencies as a “smear campaign”, but was described by the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee as an expert in “subversive political influence operations often involving disinformation and propaganda” this year.
In an interview with the AP, Akhmetshin said he had accompanied Veselnitskaya to Trump Tower in New York, where they met an interpreter who also participated in the meeting in June 2016. He told the news agency he had learned about the meeting only that day, when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend, and turned up in jeans and a T-shirt.
The AP reported: “During the meeting, Akhmetshin said Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the Trump campaign, he said.
‘This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,’ Akhmetshin recalled her saying.”
According to Akhmetshin, Trump Jr asked Veselnitskaya if she had all the necessary evidence to supporting her claims. But when Veselnitskaya replied that the Trump campaign would need do further research, Trump Jr lost interest.
“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” Akhmetshin told the AP, adding that he did not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government.
The meeting was also attended by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, then chairman of the Trump campaign. Akhmetshin said he recognised Manafort because they worked in “adjacent political circles” but never together.
He told the AP that the meeting was “not substantive” and he “actually expected more serious” discussion. “I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest.”
The meeting had been brokered by Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist whose clients include the Russian singer Emin Agalarov, an acquaintance of the Trump family.
So let’s summarize as of today’s information.
We know the Obama administration thought the Russians were meddling. But he didn’t warn either campaign. (Which is a lie. He told HRC’s crew and they developed the Trump/Russian collusion plan early.) We have the fake dossier created by Fusion GPS, which was funded by a Republican and then a Democrat (Who is a good question).
We have Fusion GPS being hired by a Russian firm that hired the Russian lawyer. So they know and work with each other. That is very suspicious. Especially now that the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, has decided he doesn’t want to testify in front of Congress after all. We have to wonder why not. It may be they will ask a question that puts him in a position where he has to lie- or give it up. And with Trump in charge, lying to Congress will get him prosecuted.
We have Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, who has been working to reverse the Magnitsky Act, in order to free up assets and abilities for Russian oligarchs. To this end, she has been allowed to move freely throughout Washington, rubbing elbows and lobbying politicians on both sides of the aisle, without ONE peep from our intel agencies as her being a spy.
We have Loretta Lynch and the Obama State department allowing Natalia- forever now know as “Natasha” from Rocky and Bullwinkle- to enter the country with a waiver, so she can lobby against a bill Obama signed into law. Weird huh.
We have up to six or maybe more people in a twenty minute meeting where Donald Jr. was offered information on Hillary taking illegal Russian donations, but realized quickly that this was a bait and switch operation and the real issue was Natalia wanting to lobby for the reversal of the Act.
We have another Russian, a dual citizen and also a lobbyist who has made the round in Washington, in the meeting trying to influence the Trump campaign.
We have a State department authorized interpreter that works with Natalia/Natasha all the time.
And probably a few more we don’t know about yet.
Nothing in this meeting screams collusion or an attempt for secrecy. In fact, it is just the opposite. The Russian lawyer wanted to offer in trade for a later favor unverified documents that Hillary and the DNC were taking Russian money- which of course they probably were. Democrats project morals on others, they have none themselves.
Donald Jr rejected the offer by all accounts.
Unlike the HRC/Bill/Foundation money laundering schemes that netted them millions for their favors.
The MSM is going crazy.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who is truly a snake, says that Donald Jr should have informed the proper authorities.
Think about that. “The Proper Authorities“…. Who would that be? Loretta Lynch- who let the Russian attorney in, and met with Bill Clinton on a tarmac to assure him his wife would not be charged for the crimes she committed? Comey, who made the FBI look like fools covering for HRC and other’s crimes? Obama? The guy who openly stated prior to any FBI conclusions that Hillary was innocent. The DNC that shopped around a fake Russian dossier they got from the Russians (uh wait, what? But I thought dealing with the Russians was.. ) and is the target of the documents?
And Donald Jr was supposed to turn over a list of DNC/Russian money laundering incidents.
What as Natalia/Natasha’s purpose? Read the Powerlineblog article.
It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.
That Act blacklists Russians who were determined to have engaged in certain human rights violations. It is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who, after reporting large-scale Russian corruption, was arrested and died in custody under suspicious circumstances.
All of this has been widely discussed. What’s less noted, presumably because it’s not part of the “collusion” story, is the wide-ranging nature of Veselnitskaya’s anti-Magitsky Act lobbying effort around the same time she met with Trump, Jr.
Yep. Here is a video of an interview of Mr Browder. He lays out why Natalia is here, and why Putin wants it changed.
Does any of the MSM channels care about the truth? Of course not. This is their job. Even has their own reporters fall from Trump fatigue.
Eric Erickson, a solid never Trumper, also points out that this was a set up.
This will not get nearly as much coverage as Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, but it does raise the issue of whether Democrats and Russians were as collaborative as the Democrats claim the Trump team was. There is a remarkably small degree of separation between Natalia Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS, the Democrat opposition research firm that came up with the Trump dossier.
In 2012, the Russian government started hiring hordes of Washington law firms, lobbyists, political strategist, and others to get the Magnitsky Act repealed. The act, named for Sergei Magnitsky, sought to hold the Russian government accountable for the man’s death. Mr. Magnitsky was a lawyer who uncovered massive tax fraud in Russia. He was arrested, tortured while in prison, and died.
One of the law firms hired by Russia to work on repeal is Baker Hostetler, which also has ties to Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS. According to Senator Chuck Grassley, who wants Fusion GPS officials to testify before the Senate, Fusion GPS was also involved with the Russians over the Magnitsky Act. Senator Grassley’s office notes “Despite the reported evidence of their work on behalf of Russian interests, neither Fusion GPS nor Akhmetshin are registered as foreign agents under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).”
Grassley continued, “Fusion GPS was apparently simultaneously working on the unsubstantiated dossier alleging collusion between Trump presidential campaign associates and Russia” while helping Russia with the Magnitsky Act. It also appears the FBI was willing to pay Christopher Steele, the former spy, who helped Fusion GPS compile the dossier.
Now, let me quote directly from the Chuck Grassley press release on Fusion GPS with the major, relevant portions highlighted:
In 2013, the Justice Department opened a case to seize the U.S. assets of Russian-owned Prevezon Holdings, which received millions of dollars from the theft and used it to purchase real estate in New York, according to the department’s complaint. In response, Prevezon Holdings and the Kremlin launched a campaign to undermine the Magnitsky Act and discredit Magnitsky’s claims of corruption, according to a 2016 complaint by Hermitage CEO William Browder. Fusion GPS and Rinat Akhmetshin, among others, were involved in the pro-Russia campaign in 2016, which involved lobbying congressional staffers to attempt to undermine the Justice Department’s account of Magnitsky’s death and the crime he uncovered, repeal the Magnitsky Act itself, and delay efforts to expand it to countries beyond Russia, according to Browder’s complaint. Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant, has reportedly admitted to being a “soviet counterintelligence officer,” and has a long history of lobbying the U.S. government for pro-Russia matters. Fusion GPS was reportedly tasked with generating negative press coverage of Browder and Hermitage.
You know who else worked for Preveson Holdings? Natalia Veselnitskaya.
According to Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik News, Veselnitskaya had “evidence showing that the grounds for the Magnitsky Act are based on lies perpetuated by UK millionaire of US origin William Browder.”
In addition to working for Prevezon Holdings and working against William Browder, just like Fusion GPS was doing, Veselnitskaya also had dealings with Rinat Akhmetshin, the founder of the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation. As noted above, Akhmetshin was named by Senator Grassley as sharing work with Fusion GPS against Browder. In a letter to the Department of Justice, Senator Chuck Grassley says this about Akhmetshin:
It is particularly disturbing that Mr. Akhmetshin and Fusion GPS were working together on this pro-Russia lobbying effort in 2016 in light of Mr. Akhmetshin’s history and reputation. Mr. Akhmetshin is a Russian immigrant to the U.S. who has admitted having been a “Soviet counterintelligence officer.” In fact, it has been reported that he worked for the GRU and allegedly specializes in “active measures campaigns,” i.e., subversive political influence operations often involving disinformation and propaganda. According to press accounts, Mr. Akhmetshin “is known in foreign policy circles as a key pro-Russian operator,” and Radio Free Europe described him as a “Russian ‘gun-for-hire’ [who] lurks in the shadows of Washington’s lobbying world.” He was even accused in a lawsuit of organizing a scheme to hack the computers of one his client’s adversaries.
As you know, Fusion GPS is the company behind the creation of the unsubstantiated dossier alleging a conspiracy between President Trump and Russia. It is highly troubling that Fusion GPS appears to have been working with someone with ties to Russian intelligence –let alone someone alleged to have conducted political disinformation campaigns– as part of a pro-Russia lobbying effort while also simultaneously overseeing the creation of the Trump/Russia dossier. The relationship casts further doubt on an already highly dubious dossier.
Radio Free Europe has a story noting Akhmetshin’s group had hired Veselnitskaya as an attorney:
Read the rest. The bottom line is Trump was being pursued by the Left. I think the plan was to have HRC win, then use the compliant media and the intel “deep state” leaks, along with the HRC DOJ harassment to destroy Donald Trump forever. Imagine how bad it would get for him and what that would do to anyone else who thought they could run against the “machine.”
But Trump won. He has the power and more importantly, access to the files. He needs to stay the course and then plan to do what he has to do to bring them to justice.
If I were him, I would go scorched earth on anyone I thought had something to do with this. For example, I would order all the agencies to compile all contacts any politician/bureaucrat/official had with any foreign representative dividing the contacts by time/date/context. Then take that information and release it on an open website for all citizens to see. No exemptions. You want to see how many times Senator Feinstein or Schumer or McCain met with the Russians? Just take a look. That will keep them busy for years!
Then I would assign the FBI/DOJ taskforce to look into this Fusion GPS/Natalia/Russian lobbying effort and see if any laws were broken. If so, they get to go to jail. And finally, if by chance those records Natalia offered were accurate, assign the FBI/DOJ investigate any illegal donations to the DNC and pursue charges.
Basically, burn their playhouse down! They went after his kid. That’s war.
Erik Erickson finishes up with the exact questions which should direct any investigation.
There are three questions reporters should be asking right now.
What is the relationship between Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS and Natalia Veselnitskaya?
Did Veselnitskaya serve as a source for the “Trump Dossier”?
Who retained Veselnitskaya to attempt to meet with Donald Trump, Jr.?
One final point: the issue is not whether this excuses Donald Trump, Jr. for poor judgment. The issue is whether certain Democrats were collaborating with Russians at a time Democrats claim the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russians. Both sides should have been dubious of Russians bearing gifts and it looks increasingly likely that neither side was. The Democrats could be trying to undermine Donald Trump with as much help from the Russians as they claim Trump received from Russia.