Shortly after the United Kingdom narrowly voted to leave the European Union in what was known as the "Brexit" vote in June of 2016, Donald Trump posted a message to his Twitter account that had political observers scratching their head — "They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!"
"Is Trump claiming he was the driving force behind Britain's decision to quit the European Union? Or that his troubled campaign, like Brexit, will end in surprise victory? Who knows, but as Trump likes to do when he asks: 'Did Obama create Isis?' or 'Is Hillary a murderer?' we can take the available facts and say: we don't know, but that's what people are asking," wrote The Guardian newspaper after Trump's puzzling Tweet.
Trump "seemingly used the reference to imply that he would win the U.S. election," wrote The Washington Post, while conceding that on social media, "thousands of users questioned exactly what Trump meant by his triumphal prognostication."
But a bombshell exposé in The Sunday Times of London on June 10 may answer the question of exactly why Trump called himself "Mr. Brexit." According to the investigative report, the Trump and Brexit campaigns were closely linked — and the British businessman who bankrolled the Brexit campaign slipped contact information for several members of Trump's transition team to Russian officials.
Arron Banks (pictured at center in the image at the top of this page) a 48-year-old British financier who owns a South African diamond mine according to his own statements in The Guardian, was a top donor to the "Leave" campaign that supported Britain's exit from the European Union.
New reporting by The Times revealed that Banks met on at least three occasions with the Russian ambassador to the U.K. — even though he had previously acknowledged only one meeting with Alexander Yakovenko (pictured at the top of this page, right).
Yakovenko, Mother Jones magazine reported, has also met with Joseph Mifsud, the U.K.-based, Maltese professor who told Trump campaign foreign policy adviser that Russia possessed "thousands" of emails containing "dirt" on Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Mifsud has now disappeared, as The Inquisitr reported earlier this year.
One of the meetings between Yakovenko, Banks, and Wigmore took place on August 19, 2016 — the same day that Steve Bannon was named to lead the Trump presidential campaign, according to Guardian reporter Carol Cadwalladr.
Bannon was a founder and top strategist of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm used by both the Trump and Brexit campaigns to micro-target voters — often using data that was illegally or improperly obtained, according to a report by Politico.
When Times reporters questioned Banks about the discrepancy in the number of Russia meetings he reported, the businessman with an estimated net worth of £250 million or about $335 million, according to the Financial Times, replied, "Bite me."
Banks, The Times reported, admitted to two "boozy lunches" with the Russian ambassador as well as "a cup of tea," adding, "it's a convenient political witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump."
But according to the report, that "cup of tea" — also attended by "Leave" campaign communications director Andrew Wigmore — involved discussion of a potential deal between Banks and a Russian mining tycoon to "consolidate" six gold mines.
But Banks has denied that the Russians or any Russian money played a part in the Brexit effort, to which he donated £12 million, or $16 million in United States cash —making him the single largest political donor ever in the U.K., according to a Guardian report.According to emails obtained by The Times, Banks and Wigmore were introduced to Yakovenko by suspected Russian intelligence agent Alexander Udod, who was one of 23 such suspected spies kicked out of the U.K. after the poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March of this year, according to tiger U.K.'s Metro news site.
One of those "boozy" lunches, the Times reported, took place just three days after Banks, Wigmore and right-wing politician Nigel Farage — the public face of the Brexit campaign — returned from New York City where they met with Trump, who had won the U.S. presidential election just days earlier. A photo from that meeting at Trump Tower is seen in the tweet posted above. After the meeting, Banks admitted to The Times, he gave phone numbers for several Trump transition team leaders to his Russian contacts.