The narrative of the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the “Russian Lawyer” doesn’t pass the smell test.
Depending on whom you wish to believe, the recent revelations that last June Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with one Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Moscow attorney advertised to have brought destructive opposition research on Hillary Clinton, prove there is finally meat on the “Trump and the Russians” bones being served to the public.
From this quarter, the story seems to have far more questions than answers to it.
The proposition those damning the president based on this latest revelation are offering involves the fact that Trump Junior is found on an email thread which he voluntarily disclosed on Twitter saying “I love it” in reaction to being told of the information on Clinton, that information having been characterized by its presenter, an English music publicist named Rob Goldstone, as part and parcel of a desire by the Russian government to help his father win.
This, we’re told, is evidence of collusion between Trump père and The Russians, and based on a timeline which included the Wikileaks disclosures of “hacked” Democratic National Committee emails and Trump’s request that The Russians make public the 30,000 emails Clinton had supposedly deleted from her illegal private server, it’s a smoking gun that Trump was the beneficiary of the Putin regime’s intelligence arm “hacking” the 2016 election.
Which is an awful lot of mileage on not quite so much fuel.
Veselnitskaya’s presence in the United States alone ought to be the source of suspicion that not only is the Trump-Russian collusion narrative suspect in this case but that the real inquiry ought to be into whether the encounter was a small part of a larger attempt to trap the Trump campaign.
The Russian lawyer wasn’t even supposed to be here. She had been denied a visa for entry into the United States in late 2015, but given a rather extraordinary “parole” by the federal government to assist preparation for a client subject to an asset forfeiture by the Justice Department. That was in January. The client was Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company suspected of having been paid some portion of $230 million stolen by Russian mobsters. When Sergey Magnitsky a Russian lawyer representing a company that had been the victim of the theft, reported it to authorities in Moscow he was promptly jailed and beaten to death. The American response to this atrocity was the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned several individuals connected to human rights abuses. The Russian government retaliated by preventing American adoptions of Russian children.
But in June, she was permitted to fly back to the U.S., have the meeting with Trump Junior — at Trump Tower, no less — and then end up in the front row for a congressional hearing involving testimony from a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, then turning up at a D.C. showing of a documentary film on the negative effects of the Magnitsky Act, and later appearing at a dinner involving Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) who is now a lobbyist for the Russians. The repeal of that legislation is a priority item for the Russians and a personal project of Veselnitskaya’s; it, rather than any Clinton dirt, was reportedly the primary subject brought forth at the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.
All of this without a visa! Not to mention Veselnitskaya didn’t file a FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) document before acting as a lobbyist for a foreign entity, as required by law. Neither, apparently, did Dellums. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a fascinating letter Tuesday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking them to please find out what in the hell Veselnitskaya was doing in this country last June.
And further, it turns out Veselnitskaya was connected to Fusion GPS, the Democrat opposition research firm which employed a former British spy who used Russian contacts to produce the infamous and debunked Pee Pee Dossier smearing Trump. Veselnitskaya hired Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson to work on behalf of Prevezon, the company she was allowed into the country to represent, in its efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act. Fusion then hired Christopher Steele, the British spy who drew on Russian sources to produce that dossier, and made him available for private briefings on the dossier with left-leaning media sources such as Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorker and CNN in September.
Naturally, John McCain is involved — if that fact should produce his resignation, all of this will have been worth it.
By the way, there is Veselnitskaya’s social media account, which is decidedly more aligned with the Fusion GPS side of this equation than the Trump side.
And the meeting came about largely due to hyped-up promises made by a publicist for a Russian pop star who was connected to the Trump family from the Miss Universe pageant having been held in Moscow in 2013 — promises which don’t appear to have been fulfilled. If this whole thing doesn’t look like an old-fashioned dangle to you, then you haven’t watched enough spy movies.
If timelines are interesting to you, there is this — reportedly, the Obama administration sought permission to electronically monitor Trump Tower in early June, and the FISA court would not grant it. But in October, that warrant was given.
So if you’d like to don your tinfoil hat and play the collusion game, try this on for size — when the Obama administration couldn’t get permission from the FISA court to surveil Trump, they allowed Veselnitskaya back into the country to take part in those Washington activities aside from whatever legal work she supposedly would be doing, and in the meantime the administration’s pals at Fusion tasked Goldstone with attempting to hook Trump Junior, whose performance makes him not a terrible analog for Fredo Corleone, into a meeting at Trump Tower to pass along “opposition research.”
And once that meeting — which on its surface was a waste of everyone’s time — was had, the Obama administration now had something to sell to the FISA court to get that warrant — from which they snagged Mike Flynn and gave the Democrat party and the media a mechanism to shroud the Trump administration in what can best be described as a rather dubious scandal. Remember how Hillary Clinton was accusing Trump of being a Putin’s puppet at the October 19 debate?
Which theory is harder to believe?
That Trump, who had never run for office before and who was panned as a clown by the Democrats and the media right up until Election Night last November, orchestrated a grand coup d’état with the assistance of the Russians to “hack” an American election, and that it was so well hidden that the Don Junior meeting is the only real evidence unearthed so far of the whole thing…
…Or that the Obama administration and the Democratic Party used their immense power to attempt to ensnare the Trumps in a damaging narrative that would either discredit him and the Republican Party as traitors in the event of a Clinton victory or cripple his administration in “scandal” should he pull an upset?
Who had the means, motive, and experience to pull off the deeds in question? Who had the power to let Veselnitskaya into the country, and what purpose would be served for such permission?
We don’t know the half of this story. But frankly, this business with The Russians is all of a sudden a lot more interesting than it’s been the whole time the media has been flogging it.
Photo: Max Goldberg/Creative Commons