Rob Goldstone is the man who arranged the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that has been at the center of much speculation related to collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials. In an interview with USA Today, the music publicist admits that he was uncomfortable with setting up the meeting, claiming he has never had any interest whatsoever in politics. From the moment he was asked to arrange it until now, he has been uneasy about the whole thing. In his book Pop Stars, Pageants & Presidents: How An Email Trumped My Life that’s scheduled for release Tuesday, Goldstone shares his experience — from the request to arrange the meeting until today.
It all began with a phone call from Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov who had hired Goldstone as his manager and publicist. The singer’s father, Aras Agalarov, is a self-made billionaire developer many have compared to Donald Trump with whom he was friendly. When Emin Agalarov called Goldstone on the morning of June 3, 2016, and asked him to arrange a meeting with the Trumps, Goldstone initially didn’t think much of it as he had previously acted as a go-between for the two. The reason Emin gave him for the meeting, however, made him uneasy.
The pop singer explained that his father had met with a “well-connected” Russian attorney who had information about questionable fundraising activities by Russians who supported the Democratic Party and thus Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election. When Goldstone asked for more details, Emin wouldn’t provide any but just insisted that the attorney was “well-connected.” Goldstone said that he told the singer at the time, “Nothing good can come of this.”
"That was one of the most embarrassing meetings I have ever been in – and I set it up," an apologetic Rob Goldstone recalls telling Donald Trump Jr. when it was over.https://t.co/ZeVNRBzaUy
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 24, 2018
Although he had served to connect Agalarov and the Trumps before, Goldstone said he was reluctant this time to ask for something that wouldn’t directly benefit Agalarov. He agreed to do so in spite of his reservations and wrote an email he now regrets. With few details to work from, he admits he puffed up the little information he did have in an effort to make the invitation as attractive as possible. It’s something he had done many times when promoting celebrity clients.
One of the things he did to make the invitation more enticing was to call the Russian attorney “the Crown Prosecutor of Russia,” a term he’d been taught to use to describe prosecutors in his native England. In an interview with NBC News, Goldstone said that in his email to Donald Trump Jr., he said the Russian attorney had information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” He told him that it was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Goldstone said he wrote the email on his phone in about three minutes. He claims he didn’t know that what he was offering Trump Jr. was true but that he had assumed that was what the Russians were offering based on how he had seen Russian press treat Trump and the special treatment he had seen Trump receive from the Russians during his Moscow trip for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Goldstone received an immediate response from Trump Jr. in which he said, “If it’s what you say, I love it.” Phone calls between Trump Jr. and Agalarov ensued and firmed up the arrangements. Goldstone was not part of those phone calls.
Goldstone was embarrassed by the meeting itself. Americans in attendance were Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner. Russian attorney Veselnitskaya was accompanied by a translator, a colleague, and a business associate of the Agalarovs. He called Veselnitskaya’s presentation “droning and monotonous,” and the Americans in attendance felt the same way. Goldstone said that at one point, Kushner interrupted her vague presentation and asked her to “get to the point.” She continued in her same rambling manner until Trump Jr. acted like he was going to stand up. At that point, Veselnitskaya changed subjects and began talking about Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act that Russia retaliated against by blocking American adoption of Russian children. Trump Jr. wound up the meeting by telling Veselnitskaya that her father was not president and that she should address her concerns to President Obama.
Goldstone’s life is forever changed since that meeting. He’s been drawn into the political spotlight despite never having any interest in politics. He’s the center of attention, which has never been his preference. He has always preferred to be involved in connecting people who are the center of attention. And he’s become the object of many late-night talk show jokes. He doesn’t know what the future holds for him but says he wishes he could go back in time and refuse to send that email that started it all.