Donald Trump started his Friday by posting a message to his Twitter account with another denial that he colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election — but on the same day, more evidence of possible collusion emerged when a new investigative report by the New York Times confirmed that Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., met in June of last year with a lawyer who was acting as a direct agent of the Kremlin.
That lawyer, 42-year-old Natalia Veselnitskaya, promised to deliver information damaging to the Democratic party and as a result, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton — information that may have come straight from a top Kremlin official, according to the Times report. Veselnitskaya has maintained that she acted independently and did not coordinate her meeting with Trump, Jr. on June 9, 2016, with Russian officials.
The supposedly damaging information concerned an American company that the Russian government claims had made investments in Russia, but dodged paying taxes on those investments. The company, Ziff Brothers Investments, was allegedly linked to two top Democratic party donors — and also to American-born businessman Bill Browder, one of Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics. It was Browder who has successfully pushed for the Magnitsky Act, a Russia sanctions law that freezes the assets of numerous Russian oligarchs.
The June 9 meeting, also attended by Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, centered around how Trump, as president, could end the Magnitsky Act sanctions. Read the complete New York Times report revealing Veselnitskaya as a Russian agent by visiting this link.
It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2017
According to the Times report, Veselnitskaya shared her memo about the supposed Democratic donor with Russia’s top prosecutor — the equivalent of the U.S, Attorney General — Yuri Chaika months before the June meeting in New York’s Trump Tower with Trump, Jr., Kushner, and Manafort. Chaika had also given a nearly identical memo to pro-Russian California congressmember Dana Rohrabacher months before the meeting with Trump, Jr.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 27, 2017
The meeting was coordinated initially by Rob Goldstone, a British music manager who represents aspiring Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov — son of Aras Agalarov, a billionaire Russian real estate developer with close ties to Putin, and who partnered with Trump to bring the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow in 2013. They also partnered on the unrealized, but still active Trump Tower Moscow project.
Goldstone set up the meeting by sending an email to Trump, Jr. stating, that by attending, Trump would obtain information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump, Jr. has since dismissed the meeting as “nonsense,” but at the time, his response to Goldstone’s email, which appears to be a clear offer of collusion between “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” and the Trump campaign, was, “I love it.”
In the email to Trump, Jr., Goldstone told the younger Trump that the supposedly incriminating information came from Aras Agalarov, who obtained the documents from, as Goldstone said, “the Crown prosecutor of Russia.” While there is no such position as “Crown prosecutor of Russia,” the top prosecutor in the Kremlin is Yuri Chaika, who appears to be the source of the information brought to the meeting by Veselnitskaya.
Veselnitskaya responded to the New York Times report, slamming the story as “lies and false claims.”
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]