Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign and “presidency,” Trump and his associates repeatedly denied having any “dealings with Russia.” We now know that Trump and his campaign had NUMEROUS dealings with Russia. And the infamous “Russian Lawyer Meeting” is the dealing that likely will serve as the lynchpin to show that Trump and his campaign colluded, cooperated, and conspired with Russia to throw the election.
Who was there and what was discussed is why this Russian Lawyer meeting will sink Donald Trump?
When the initial story of the Russian Lawyer Meeting broke, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump, Jr., Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner met with the Kremlin-connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. Since then, subsequent reports have uncovered additional meeting attendees. It remains unconfirmed if others, including Trump himself, attended the meeting.
Here’s who represented Russia at the meeting:
THE ORGANIZER: Rob Goldstone is a music publicist who represents Russian pop star, Emin Agalarov. Emin’s father, Aras Agalarov, is a major real estate developer in Russia and has close ties to Putin. Aras Agalarov, who paid Trump $20 million to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013, was Trump’s business partner for Trump Tower Moscow. (Read more about the connection between Trump, Emin, and Agalarov here.)
THE RUSSIAN LAWYER: The central character in this story, Kremlin-connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is known for her battle to get Congress to repeal the Magnitsky Act, and for her fierce attacks on Sergey Magnitsky’s former client, British-American investor, Bill Browder, who pushed the U.S. to adopt the Magnitsky Act. Veselnitskaya has strong ties to the Kremlin and for many years, she represented Russia’s FSB in a legal case in Moscow. The FSB (the successor to the Soviet-era KGB) was led by Vladimir Putin before he became Russian president.
On the day of the Russian Lawyer Meeting, Veselnitskaya was in New York, representing Prevezon, which is owned by Denis Katsyv, the son of a powerful Russian oligarch. Prevezon was being sued by then-federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara, for laundering money that had been stolen from Bill Browder. Browder describes Veselnitskya as, “vindictive and ruthless and unrelenting.”
THE MONEY LAUNDERER:Iralky “Ike” Kaveladze works as a vice president at Aras Agalarov’s company, the Crocus Group, and focuses on real estate and finance. Kaveladze was the subject of a congressional inquiry into Russian money laundering in U.S. banks, which revealed that he opened 236 bank accounts in the U.S. for shell corporations formed on behalf of Russians, and made $1.4 billion in wire-transfer transactions.
THE TRANSLATOR: Anatoli Samochornov is a translator who worked with the Russian Lawyer, Veselnitskaya, on her lobbying campaign against the Magnitsky Act and on the Prevezon case.
Quick recap: top Trump campaign brass, Junior, Manafort and Kushner met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, a “former” Russian spy with expertise in acquiring hacked emails, and an alleged Russian money launderer.
In addition, several reports from intelligence community sources have suggested that Trump himself dialed in, although these reports haven’t been publicly confirmed. Further, these sources suggest that SIGINT (signals intelligence, such as recordings) of the meeting exist. If true, this would put Trump in an extremely precarious position in the ongoing TrumpRussia investigation.
Even if Trump didn’t dial into the Russian Lawyer meeting, the circumstances of the Russian Lawyer Meeting, along with Team Trump’s shifting explanations for it, are entirely consistent with TrumpRussia collusion.
How did this Russian Lawyer Meeting happen, and what was discussed?
Last spring, when asked by the “failing” New York Times about his dealings with Russia, Junior had denied having any campaign-related meetings with Russians and unequivocally denied discussing any U.S. government policies regarding Russia. In July, the New York Times broke the story that Donald Trump, Jr. arranged the previously undisclosed June 2016 Russian Lawyer Meeting at Trump Tower with the Kremlin-linked lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Junior had invited senior Trump campaign brass to attend, namely, Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who oversaw the campaign’s digital operation. At this point, no other meeting attendees had been revealed publicly.
The following day, the New York Times reported that Junior was promised kompromat (compromising material) on Hillary Clinton before he agreed to meet with the Russian Lawyer. Then, the very next day, the Times’ completed their “Trump trifecta,”reporting that Junior had been informed by email in advance of the Russian Lawyer Meeting that the Russian government was providing the Clinton kompromat as part of their effort to help Trump’s campaign.
The Times then published the contents of the email exchange between Junior and Rob Goldstone (upon being forewarned of the Times’ story, Junior posted images of the email chain on Twitter). Goldstone, who helped broker the Russian Lawyer Meeting, represents Russian pop star, Emin, whose father, Aras Agalarov, is a Russian real estate magnate and Trump’s business partner on Trump Tower Moscow.
In his initial email, Goldstone wrote Junior that the Russian government was offering to provide Clinton kompromat that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father (Trump),” and added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Junior expressed delight at Goldstone’s news, responding, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
In response to the Times’ first report that broke the story of the Russian Lawyer Meeting, Junior’s original statement claimed that the meeting was about “adoptions” and added “but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.” Despite Trump’s lawyer repeatedly denying that Trump had any involvement with Junior’s original statement, the Washington Post later reported that Trump actually dictated Junior’s “misleading” initial statement, which now appears to be a massive understatement.
The next day, Junior changed his story again after being confronted with the Times’ impending report of Goldstone’s promise of Clinton kompromat, claiming that the Russian Lawyer used the false promise of Clinton kompromat to get the meeting, but then shifted the discussion towards adoption and the Magnitsky Act, which in reality, means Russiansanctions.
The U.S. enacted the Magnitsky Act in response to the murder of Bill Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnistsky, who uncovered corruption by senior Russian officals. In response, Putin banned U.S. adoptions.
After Junior and Goldstone’s email exchanges were revealed publicly, Junior’s story changed yet again. Junior’s lawyer acknowledged that Junior arranged the Russian Lawyer Meeting with the expectation that he would receive Clinton kompromat. Incredibly, his lawyer spun this as just a typical occurrence of a campaign receiving opposition research on his opponent. Junior added to this spin, tweeting sarcastically about opposition research, claiming he “had to listen”.
Unbelievably, Junior admitted publicly that he had to listen to a Kremlin-connected lawyer about Clinton kompromat provided by the Russian government as part of its ongoing support for his father’s campaign!
Trump himself piled on, tweeting that “most politicians” would have attended the Russian Lawyer Meeting to get kompromat, adding that is was just “politics.”
No U.S. politician believes that Russan-provided kompromat is a normal part of any campaign. Bill Brower, who has substantial experience investing in Russia, said that the Russian Lawyer Meeting involved a “quid pro quo,” namely, Trump repealing Russian sanctions in exchange for a “sizable offer” to the campaign.
Now that we know who was there, what was discussed at the Russian Lawyer Meeting?
When the Russian Lawyer Meeting story first broke, Junior admitted that he, Manafort, and Kushner discussed dropping Russian sanctions (“adoptions”) with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, despite previously denying any discussion of U.S. government policies on Russia. Junior then admitted that they discussed Clinton kompromat, but that the Russan Lawyer’s information was “vague, ambiguous and made no sense.”
“Former” Russian spy and hacking expert, Rinat Akhmetshin, said that the Russian Lawyer gave the Trump team a plastic folder with documents that contained details of what the lawyer believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, and suggested publicizing the information to help Trump’s campaign.
Although Akhmetshin didn’t see the papers that the Russian Lawyer brought to Trump Tower, he did review the Russian version of the documents before the meeting, describing the information as, “how bad money ended up in Manhattan and that money was put into supporting political campaigns.”
The infamous TrumpRussia dossier, written by former MI6 spy, Christopher Steele, provides further evidence that Clinton kompromat was given to Team Trump at the Russian Lawyer Meeting. The Steele Dossier reported that, in June 2016, according to a “close associate of Trump,” the Russian-provided kompromat had been “very helpful.”
During the meeting, Paul Manafort took notes that he typed on his smart phone. Manafort turned over his notes to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which reportedly contained a reference to political contributions and “RNC” (presumably, the Republican National Committee) in close proximity.
Within 2 weeks of the Russian Lawyer Meeting, Guccifer 2.0 posted opposition research and donor documents hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and WikiLeaks posted nearly 20,000 emails hacked from senior DNC officials. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian military intelligence (GRU) was behind the hacks. The Trump campaign, as well as Republican candidates in House and Senate races, used this information, hacked by the Russians, to damage their Democratic opponents, including Hillary Clinton.
Shockingly (or not), Junior, Trump, Kushner, Manafort, nor any of the seemingly dozens of lawyers that surround Team Trump never contacted the FBI or any other law enforcement agency about Russia’s stated intent to interfere in the election. In fact, the Trump Team did just the OPPOSITE, and tried desperately to hide the Russian Lawyer Meeting.
TrumpRussia collusion allegedly involves a quid pro quo: Russian help to Trump in the election in exchange for Trump dropping Russian sanctions. The Steele Dossier also reports that financial incentives, as a consequence of the spinout of Rosneft shares, were also provided to the Trump Team.
And we now know that the Russian Lawyer Meeting, which took place a mere two weeks after Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination, involved senior Trump associates, Junior, Manafort and Kushner, who met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, a “former” Russian spy with expertise in acquiring hacked emails, and an alleged Russian money launderer, who discussed Russian sanctions, Clinton kompromat, and RNC donations.
If this Russian Lawyer Meeting was so unimportant, why did no one disclose it until Kushner submitted his updated version of his previously updated security clearance SF-86 form? And if this meeting was a “nothing burger,” why did Junior’s explanation for the meeting keep shifting? And why did his father, the sitting president, dictate Junior’s original statement, which was subsequently proven to be untrue?
Certainly, Special Counsel Mueller believes that the Russian Lawyer Meeting is important, with a recent report that a D.C. grand jury issued subpoenas in connection with the meeting. In parallel, multiple Congressional investigations continue to probe the meeting.
If Trump dialed into the meeting and the U.S. has SIGINT of this, it would be a devastating blow to Trump, who is already reeling from multiple, confirmed reports of Team Trump’s ties to Russia.
Either way, the Russian Lawyer Meeting likely will prove to be the “dealing” that takes down Trump’s House of Cards.
This article was originally published on Medium on September 6, 2017.
About the author: Dr. Dena Grayson is medical doctor (MD), biochemist (PhD), and former Democratic candidate for Congress. Dr. Grayson is married to progressive champion and former Congressman Alan Grayson.