BREAKING: Trump Jr’s Russian Lawyer Meeting Was Set up by Putin Family Friend
Hardest Evidence Yet of Trump-Russia Collusion Emerges
The series of revelations set in motion by the New York Times‘s Saturday bombshell that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, continued unfolding on Monday. The meeting was arranged by a family friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The Times reported, based on interviews with three anonymous White House aides and two other sources with knowledge of the meeting, that Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Her reported purpose for the meeting was to complain on behalf of a wealthy Russian client about the Magnitsky Act, a US law intended to punish Russian fraudsters who contrived to kill a lawyer investigating them in prison. But Trump Jr. admitted later that he agreed to the meeting because Veselnitskaya claimed to have damning Russia-based information about Hillary Clinton. When it became clear that she did not have that information, the trio of Trump surrogates terminated the meeting.
On Monday, The Atlantic rather pithily summarized this series of events with the headline, “If There Was No Collusion, It Wasn’t for Lack of Trying.” Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer, said the meeting “borders on treason.”
Monday afternoon, the Washington Post reported that music publicist Rob Goldstone confirmed that he arranged the meeting. Goldstone is a publicist for Azeri-Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. Agalarov, and his billionaire developer father, Aras Agalarov, have personal and business relations with both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s connections to the Agalarovs are publicly known because of high profile back-scratching that happened while Trump was in Russia for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Donald and Aras met and toured the site of a potential Trump Tower in Moscow, a project that Trump has been seeking since at least the late 1980s. During the same trip, Trump did the family a solid by appearing in a
godawful music video filmed at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton Hotel along with Emin and Miss Universe contestants, raising the pop star’s international profile.
ThinkProgress reported that Aras was cited in the notorious MI6 dossier as someone who would know what Donald “had got up to” in Russia.
The Post reported on the Agalarov family’s connections to Putin,
Meanwhile, the Agalarovs are also close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Aras Agalarov’s company has been awarded several large state building contracts, and shortly after the pageant, Putin awarded the elder Agalarov the “Order of Honor of the Russian Federation,” a prestigious designation.
The Daily Mail reported that Putin sent Aras’s daughter to present Trump with a gift when Vladimir couldn’t meet Donald when he was in Moscow,
Putin was unable to rearrange the sit-down meeting because he had to meet the King of Holland, and sent a gift and a note to Trump instead, the source said.
Putin enlisted Aras Agalarov’s daughter, and Emin’s sister Sheila Agalarova, to personally deliver the gift to the Miss Universe offices in New York, according to the source.
Both Trump and Putin claimed, through spokespeople, to be unaware of the meeting. In Trump’s case, that’s hard to believe since his son, son-in-law and campaign manager were there. In Putin’s case, who knows?–but why did a wealthy business family who knew both parties think the meeting was a good idea?
Everything I’ve reported above is fact based on professional investigative reporting. What I’m about to write is speculation, and I encourage you to read it skeptically. But I think there’s a plausible reason for this meeting that fits the timeline of what is already known: What if the meeting was a test?
Russian intelligence could have been probing to ensure that requests for information were not, in fact, a sting operation to flush out and ensnare Russian spies operating in the US. So the Russians, possibly, sent an alleged mob lawyer with plausible deniability because she was lying about the reason for the meeting. She offered the information. The Trump campaign people showed up. She didn’t get arrested by the FBI. The NSA wasn’t electronically eavesdropping on the meeting. Russian intelligence could have used the meeting to assess that it was safe to begin committing higher value intelligence assets to the operation. Maybe the compounds that President Barack Obama shut down in December started coming into play?
The June 9th meeting occurred two weeks after Trump clinched the nomination. Only six weeks after the meeting, Trump’s campaign manager Manafort–who was at the meeting and who had previously worked for pro-Russian Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych–oversaw a change to the Republican platform that ended support for armed resistance to Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. And only one week after that, Donald publicly said in his last press conference of the campaign, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.”
By then, Russia’s operation to hack Clinton and DNC emails and send them to WikiLeaks for targeted publication was already well underway.
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