Diary

The Infamous Trump Tower Meeting "Bombshell" That Wasn't- Part 3

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

For background, see part 1 here and part 2 here.

It is painfully obvious that “the dirt on Clinton” reason for the meeting was used to gain access to people high in the Trump campaign since there was, in fact, no dirt- just a vague allegation of donations from the Ziff Brothers Investment firm, a US firm that can legally make campaign donations to whoever they want.  Left out of the analysis is why Goldstone reached out to Trump, Jr. in the first place and invoked the name of Aras Aragalov?  Was he also in the employ of Fusion GPS or Steele who had been hired by this time?  

The following day Julian Assange announced the impending release of the hacked DNC hacks.  Soon thereafter (June 11-12), CrowdStrike wipes out the personal computers at the DNC and on June 14th the DNC announces, through the Washington Post, that their computers were hacked and later, based on a report from Crowdstrike, that it was the Russians who did it.  Goldstone then messaged Emin Aragalov, who was not at the meeting, and Ike Kaveladze, who was at the meeting, about how “eerily similar” what was discussed at the meeting at Trump Tower mirrored the Assange statement announcing the impending email dump.  In other emails, Goldstone seemed particularly eager to worm his way into the Trump campaign.  For example, he sent an email to Dan Scavino suggesting that Trump set up a social media account on a Russian site called VK, but no such account or page was ever set up.

So what is known about this Goldstone character other than the fact he is a British publicist?  He describes Russia as his second home having made 19 visits there since March 2013 and another 8 visits to Azerbaijan where the Agalarovs live.  His social media accounts indicate he was in Moscow ten days before the June 9th meeting, flew to New York, then spent July in Russia and Azerbaijan.  In May 2015, Emin and Aras Agalarov along with Goldstone attended a meeting with Donald Trump in Trump Tower when Trump allegedly revealed his intentions to declare his candidacy for President.  He appeared in Instagram postings wearing the red MAGA baseball cap during the primaries and posted a picture of himself, Trump and Agalarov deep in conversation in Las Vegas.

Goldstone testified before several Congressional committees, a grand jury, and the Mueller probe.  He has characterized his role as being set up by Veselnitskaya to arrange the meeting.  He further stated that the original email talking about Clinton dirt was his imagination working in order to secure the meeting.  

Three Russians at that meeting have ties to Fusion GPS.  Email chains among them revealed that the purpose of the meeting was the Magnitsky Act, not dirt on Clinton.  This makes perfect sense considering the following: (1) one of them said they personally knew Hillary Clinton since the 1990s and knew several people in her campaign in 2016 (Akhmetshin) and (2) the interpreter also knew Clinton and had acted as her interpreter when she was Secretary of State and had also acted as an interpreter for Obama and John Kerry.  

Rinat Akheshin said he traveled by train from DC to New York the morning of June 9th to attend a show along with an associate- Ed Lieberman.  He was the husband of Evelyn Lieberman who was a tax attorney for Bill Clinton.  Akhmetshin was also a friend of Glenn Simpson who he met through Simpson’s wife while she was a reporter stationed in Brussels.  The day after the dinner, Akhmetshin dined with Simpson, Simpson’s wife, Lieberman and Veselnitskaya in DC.  Apparently during all these dinners and lunches together, neither Veselnitskaya nor Akhmetshin discussed the Trump Tower meeting.  During Congressional testimony, Akhmetshin eventually confided that he had mentioned the meeting to Lieberman at some point.  

Donald Trump, Jr. was unaware of the Fusion GPS research on his father and the connections between that company and Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya.  The meeting was never revealed in any Steele memo given that Simpson worked closely with Steele. Since Goldstone’s original email cites Aras Aragalov as having a meeting with the non-existent Crown prosecutor, it is likely this false information was fed to Goldstone by Akhmetshin who was heavily involved in the Prezevon case, the Magnitsky Act, and moved in the orbit of Clinton associates.

We can look at the Trump Tower meeting one of three ways.  First, the Trump-Russian collusion narrative is supported by Trump, Jr.’s response to the Goldstone email when he said he “loves it” surrounding dirt on Hillary Clinton.  There was a meeting held.  That meeting was cut short when it became obvious there was no dirt on Clinton.  This is circumstantial evidence that the Trump campaign was willing to use Russian information on Hillary Clinton.  Why didn’t Kushner and Trump, Jr. come cleaner earlier?  For there to be a “coverup,” there must be something to cover and a meeting where all the participants admit was about the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions is hardly something to “cover up.”  

The second option is that the participants were part of an attempt to infiltrate the Trump campaign by offering dirt on Clinton as a means to prove collusion with the Russian government.  It is possible this was not at the initiation of the FBI or IC, but maybe Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson.  Recall that Simpson hired Steele to carry on the research into Trump because he found research up to that point was “troubling.”  Perhaps this was a way of confirming his troubling suspicions independent of any other actions.  

Simpson knew who was paying him- the DNC and Clinton campaign.  And although he may not have known that the FBI was laying the groundwork for an investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia, he had come to that conclusion already.  In that case, Veselnitskaya and Akhmeshin would be icing on the cake.  The association of the three cannot be ignored.  More confusing is the fact this pivotal meeting that allegedly proved collusion was never mentioned in any Steele memo.  

The third possibility is that Akhmeshin and Veselnitskaya simply used Rob Goldstone by introducing the names of the Aragalovs who the Trumps knew very well, possibly in collusion with Glenn Simpson.  The obvious purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions- hardly a campaign issue- but an issue near and dear to both of them.   

In any case, we will never get a definitive answer.  Akhmeshin continues to be a lobbyist and sued Steele for defamation claiming he was not a Russian agent, but that case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.  Veselnitskaya is in Russia and has been relatively silent since her last public statements.  Kevaladze did testify before Congress and largely confirmed the story that the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act.  As a representative for the senior Aragalov, his job, he said, was to make sure the meeting stuck to its purpose- the Act.  

Kevaladze reported that everything went fine while the others in that room thought otherwise- the Russians because they failed to impress upon the Trump officials concerns about the Magnitsky Act, and the Trump officials because there was no dirt on Clinton.  Were Veselnitskaya and Akhmeshin playing him and Aragalov in order to get a meeting?  If so, the whole thing backfired on Aragalov who may have been drawn unknowingly into the plan to obtain a meeting because in 2017 Aras Aragalov was sanctioned by the United States for alleged interference in the 2016 election.

Next: The “talking” computers