Diary

The Infamous Trump Tower Meeting "Bombshell" That Wasn't- Part 2

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2016 file photo, Donald Trump Jr., walks from the elevator at Trump Tower in New York. President Donald Trump’s eldest son on Monday appeared to mock the sexual assault allegations against his father’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on Instagram that seems to compares Kavanaugh's accuser to a school yard crush. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In part 1, I discussed how the meeting came to be.

Once the New York Times reported on the story in July 2017, the Trump administration reacted.  Trump, Jr. responded to the article by saying that the meeting was about Russian adoption, not a campaign issue.  The next day, after the newspaper reported the Goldstone email, Trump, Jr. said that he expected the meeting to be about dirt on Hillary Clinton which is why he agreed to the meeting.  He published the entire email chain before the newspaper could.   

Veselnitskaya apparently left a memo at Trump Tower which was later released by Foreign Policy.  The memo is long on the Magnitsky Act and short on Hillary Clinton, mentioning her only once in passing.  The following is a verbatim account of that memo’s pertinent part:

“In the course of the internal investigations into the reasons for providing political support for Browder in the United States, it was found from the very beginning of the Hermitage Capital activities in Russia…the company’s largest investor was Ziff Brothers Investments… According to available information Ziff Brothers financed the two Obama election campaigns…It cannot be ruled out they also financed the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

The memo goes on to disparage Bill Browder, link him to the Prevezon case, and talk about US-Russian relations.  As for Ziff Brothers, OpenSecrets.org confirms that they are a large contributor to Democrats.  In the 2016 campaign, they ranked #270 of 19,707 large donors with 86% of the money flowing to Democrats.  In 2016 they contributed over $1.9 million , by far their largest donation foray into American politics.

But the plot thickens.  Veselnitskaya was in New York to attend a court hearing on June 9th.  Unknown at the time, also in attendance at that court proceeding was Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS and the two had talked.  After the meeting, Simpson and Veselnitskaya again met in New York.  While it is conceivable they discussed the Prevezon case, it is inconceivable they did not also discuss the Trump Tower meeting.  At this point, Fusion GPS was working for both Prevezon and the DNC/Clinton campaign.  

While representing Denis Katysov and Prevezon in 2015 in the court in New York, Veselnitskaya was denied a visa to travel to the United States, but was allowed entry, allegedly by attorney general Loretta Lynch in 2016.  Lynch denied any knowledge stating that the State Department issues visas and Homeland Security monitors arrivals at airports.  What she failed to mention is that the Justice Department can override those avenues through a process called “immigration parole.”  The initial parole grant occurred in October 2015 and was set to expire on January 7, 2016.  Veselnitskaya requested an extension to remain in the US to defend Katsyv.  She was eventually granted a one-week extension until January 14.  There is no record of an extension after that date.

The only reason for her to be in the United States was for the Katsyv/Prevezon proceedings.  In March, Preet Bharara’s office argued against any further immigration paroles for her stating that the proceedings were in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals at that point.  Despite opposition from the government lawyers in New York and against all protocols, Veselnitskaya was granted a visa by the State Department in early June 2016 and she did attend oral arguments in the appellate case in New York City.  She also traveled to Washington and attended a Senate hearing on the Magnitsky Act and a screening of a movie about Magnitsky at Washington’s Newseum.  She hardly kept a low profile while in the United States in June 2016.

When news first broke of the meeting on July 8, 2017, the name of Akhmetshin was kept out of sight.  A week later, after constant press coverage, his presence at the meeting was acknowledged.  It was later revealed that the person who pointed the media to his name was Bill Browder.  Browder said that the presence of Akhmetshin was significant in the world of Russian espionage. 

 During that meeting at the Trump Tower, it became evident that Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin had no such dirt, as promised, on Hillary Clinton and the meeting turned to the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions.  We know for a fact that both of these Russians were heavily invested in having the sanctions under the Magnitsky Act rescinded.  The question becomes why the media, which was hell bent to portray the meeting as collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, would keep the name of Akhmetshin out of the narrative in 2017?  After all, if this was a former Russian intelligence agent (and, according to Browder, still one) wouldn’t that actually add to the narrative?

The reason becomes obvious if we accept the premise, suggested by Ohr’s notes, that Akhmetshin was a key source for Steele’s memos.  Like Steele, both Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin were tied to Fusion GPS for differing reasons with one glaring overlap- Russia.  One story fed off the other.  And despite the fact this meeting was portrayed as the “A-ha!” moment in the alleged collusion, it took another year for the press to report that Veselnitskaya met with Simpson before and after the June 9th Trump Tower meeting.

This presents a very important question: Were Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin at the meeting on behalf of the Russians and acting as Russian operatives, OR were they at the meeting acting on behalf of Fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign and wormed their way into the meeting under false pretenses?  We already know that Mifsud and Halper were reaching out to Carter Page and George Papadopolous with identical lures of dirt on Clinton.

The answer to the question is difficult to come by.  The reason is complicated because that $6 million settlement between the government and Prevezon was held up when the funds were seized by the Dutch government in a separate, unrelated case.  As a result, the DOJ went back to court against the company and as part of those proceedings, the evidence in the previous case had been re-evaluated.  

Part of that evidence was a memo prepared by Veselnitskaya proclaiming Katsyv’s innocence.  In that memo, she asserted there was no cooperation between her and the Russian government in preparing the memo when, in fact, she was very instrumental in the contents of the memo being passed off as an official, independent piece of evidence prepared by Russian authorities who, she originally claimed, she never came into contact with, later proven false.  

As a result, the DOJ, through the Southern District of New York, indicted her on charges of obstruction of justice in early 2019.  They accused her of deliberately submitting a misleading document to the court.  Since she is in Russia and that country does not extradite citizens to foreign countries, she will never see the inside of a US court nor be interviewed by US investigators.  

In effect, the DOJ effectively silenced Veselnitskaya.  It should be noted that the indictment was handed down before completion of the Mueller investigation.  Evidence of her misrepresentation to the court in the Prezevon case was revealed by Russian exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorovsky in April 2018 when he noted that Veselnitskaya and the Russian prosecutor general, Chaika, had drafted the memo.  The memo was prepared in response to a request from the DOJ for records pertaining to Prevezon and Katsyv and the response was, instead, “evidence” of their innocence.

Next: Some questions about that meeting