Thursday, May 31, 2018
Was the Trump Jr. - Veselnitskaya Meeting in June 2016 the Start of Russia's Attempt to Infiltrate the Trump Campaign?
THE REAL QUESTION TODAY IS WHEN DID OBAMA'S FBI START SPYING ON TRUMP. Nobody in the FBI or its parent agency, the DOJ, has so far answered the "when' question. • • • WHEN DID OBAMA BEGIN SPYING ON TRUMP? Restore American Glory asked the question in a May 23 article titled "Obama Was Spying on Trump Long Before DNC Emails Were Published." The article states : "The more we learn about the early days of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russia, the more this whole thing stinks....Strangely enough, the FBI seems unable or unwilling to mark a definitive start date to the investigation. The official document procured by the House Intelligence Committee has a start date of July 31, 2016, but no one is even bothering to pretend that this was actually the beginning of the investigation. Most of Obama’s lackeys pin the start of the investigation to “late spring” of that year, but it’s still not clear what actually compelled the FBI to start looking into the matter. Was it the Steele Dossier -- a piece of Clinton-funded opposition research with (as far as we can tell) very little relation to fact? The FBI and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insist that the Dossier had nothing to do with it. Was it Carter Page’s trip to Moscow? Was it George Papadopoulos’s drunken conversation with an Australian diplomat? What started this investigation? Why is this so difficult to figure out? There is no reason for this stuff to remain shrouded in mystery unless the cloak of secrecy is intended to shield the Obama administration from charges of illegal spying." Restore American Glory says the Papadopoulos version is "the one we’re really supposed to believe," but it makes no sense, "given that no one even knew the DNC’s servers had been hacked at the time he spoke to the Australian diplomat. Nor does it make sense that the FBI would wait until January 2017 to speak to Papadopoulos. NOR does it make sense that the FBI would initiate a counterintelligence investigation without letting Trump know, 'Hey man, your people are falling into a Russian trap.' ” • Restore American Glory says : "What would make sense is that the Obama team, scared to death about what a President Trump would do to their leader’s legacy if he were to defeat Hillary Clinton, went to extraordinary lengths to spy on, set up, and investigate their political adversaries. The only other possibility is that they are withholding a MAJOR piece of evidence from the public and Congress -- a piece of evidence that landed in their laps early on and justified the rest of their bizarre and illegal machinations. If that evidence exists, now would be a good time to let the world in on it." • Since it is highly unlikely that the leaking sieve that was the FBI during the Obama years could have kept a "MAJOR piece of evidence" secret even until after lunch on the day they discovered it, what seems highly likely is that the FBI is rolling its start date for the Trump investigation in order to try to hide its illegal actions against Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election. There is no firm start date for the Trump investigation because the Obama Deep Staters who are still in charge of the investigation still do not know how far back the official date of their effort to make Hillary President come hell or high water needs to go in orde to protect Obama, Hillary, AND themselves from the consequences of their illegality. • • • ONE ANALYST HAS SUGGESTED A START DATE ON THE FBI'S TRUMP INVESTIGATION. American Thinker published an article on Wednesday titled "America 2018: Bifurcation," written by Gary Gindler, conservative Russian-American blogger at Gary Gindler Chronicles. • Gary Gindler is a Ukrainian Jewish émigré and a staunch Republican, who says that growing up in the Soviet Ukraine he had to memorize Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto" and various tomes by Vladimir Lenin. Gindler says he had $800 when he arrived in the United States in 1995. Within two years, he found a job, purchased a house for his wife and two children, and had changed his name from Igor to Gary. Though apolitical at first, Gindler started picking up on the cadence of American politics after he received citizenship in September 2001. Today, Gindler has a blog, provides commentary on a Brooklyn radio station that targets the Russian Jewish community living around New York City, and abhors policies that to him look like socialism in the US while also hating post-Soviet Putin, who he says suppresses political opposition. Gindler dismisses allegations that Putin's Russia helped Trump win. He believes Russia was rooting for Trump but didn't do anything nefarious. It was Trump's promise to crack down on immigration from Moslem countries, decrease taxes, and repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act that motivated Gindler to support the Republican Trump. The common view among Russian-Americans is that Putin and Trump are opposites. Gindler says : "People who got freedom here will never tolerate what is going on over there." • With that background, let's look at what Gindler says about the FBI Trump investigation. Gindler's article in American Thinker begins with this : "US intelligence services (under the leadership of the Obama administration) considered themselves the true rulers of the country. They noted with satisfaction that they had achieved impressive successes ever since the origin of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. In fact, in 2016, for the first time in American history, the election had not one, but both presidential candidates under investigation by intelligence services. The FBI conducted a criminal investigation against Hillary Clinton as well as a case of counter-espionage against Donald Trump. To date, the criminal case of Hillary Clinton is closed. But most of America understands perfectly well that Special Prosecutor Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign is not a means to an end, but a well conceived cover-up operation aimed at shielding Obama, Clinton, and their closest associates. So far, there is not a bit of proof of collusion between Trump and Vladimir Putin. Instead, everything points to cover up the criminal collusion between Obama and his intelligence services, which began in London. In addition to American and British intelligence services, Australian, Estonian, Russian, and Ukrainian intelligence services participated in the American elections in 2016. The efforts of all these intelligence services pressed against Trump, but only Russian intelligence services worked simultaneously against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton." • Gindler calls the entire affair "Obamagate," and says it has now "turned into an avalanche" of "seven employees of Trump under Obama surveillance, and four spies embedded by the Obama administration into Trump's campaign." • Gindler names the two spies that are on everbody's list, "Stefan Halper and Joseph Mifsud." Gindler says : "Halper, as it turned out, after the penetration into Trump campaign, tried to infiltrate Trump's administration after his inauguration. The third is an unknown person, referred to as 'NSA agent.' • Gindler explains the set up : "Suspicion of espionage is falling on Anatoly Samochornov as a fourth, the 'interpreter' of the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya, who was, in fact, the FBI agent who accompanied her at the meeting with Trump's son, Manafort, and Kushner. Of course, the FBI kept Veselnitskaya in the dark. Her saga with the US visa is a story by itself. Her visa was overdue. However, someone high enough from Obama's Department of Justice made several calls. Veselnitskaya not only received a visa, but also had the opportunity to defend her client in an American court, even though she does not have a license to practice law in America....Now we know that the surveillance of General Flynn was conducted at least six months before his ill fated telephone conversation with the Russian ambassador in December 2016....This phone call (or rather, the scandal associated with it) was used by the Obama administration and served as yet another smokescreen to cover up the administration's criminal activities." • Gindler says national security letters were used before the FBI got its first FISA warrant : "Now we know what 'national security letters' are. They are tricks of the US intelligence services to track down Trump, which allowed them to organize surveillance without FISA court authorization. These 'national security letters' are a legitimate method of espionage business -- a method that has never been used before to track domestic political opponents." • Gindler adds to his analysis : "Finally, now we know (from the text message of FBI agent Strzok) that President Obama was behind this covert operation against Trump. The propaganda has already convinced practically everyone that these ill fated text messages were sent by Strzok to his mistress. But something tells me that the 'mistress,' Lisa Page, is yet another smokescreen, skillfully created by the FBI." [This is the first time we have heard this idea.] • Then, Gindler gives his start date for the FBI Trump investigation : "The active phase of the operation of US intelligence agencies against Trump and his campaign took place from approximately March 2016 to September 2017. That was about eight months before the elections, plus three months before the inauguration, plus about eight months after Trump took office as President. US intelligence services have all the documents of the Trump campaign (all emails, all phone calls, all texts) and, finally, reports of numerous 'confidential human sources.' " Gilder concludes that the spying on Trump was undertaken for "the protection of Obama and his accomplices." • • • AT LEAST FOUR POSSIBLE RUSSIAN 'PLANTS' MAY HAVE ATTENDED THE MEETING. In July 2017, Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI criminal division, told the Daily Caller that : "Whoever accompanied Veselnitskaya to the Trump Tower meeting will be of interest to federal investigators, including special counsel Robert Mueller, [who] will want to know “what is the pedigree of the attorney and of any translator in the room or involved in any way” in the Trump Tower meeting. As for what allegedly occurred in the meeting, both Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya claim that no Clinton research was exchanged. Instead, both say that Veselnitskaya lobbied hard against the Magnitsky Act. The meeting has drawn massive attention because of Veselnitskaya’s connections to the Russian government. In his initial outreach to Trump Jr., Goldstone referred to Veselnitskaya as a “Russian government attorney.” BUT, as of today, late May 2018, the spotlight on the meeting has dimmed and nothing has been reported about it since November, 2017. • The Daily Caller said in an article on July 13, 2017, written by Chuck Ross, that : "At least six people were involved in the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting, but so far only five have been publicly identified. Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rob Goldstone and Natalia Veselnitskaya...took part in the meeting [later, Ike Kaveladze was identified as the eighth attendee]....Goldstone, a British music publicist, had informed Trump Jr. that Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney, would be providing the Clinton dirt. NBC News reported in July 2017 that Veselnitskaya, who does not speak English, was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist who some US officials believe is a former Soviet counterintelligence officer. NBC also reported that a lawyer for Trump Jr. said that Veselnitskaya was accompanied by a second man, though no details were provided about him. The Associated Press confirmed after NBC’s report that the Russian-American lobbyist is Rinat Akhmetshin. Veselnitskaya works closely with another Russian emigre other than the suspected former Soviet spy. Anatoli Samochornov, a Russia-born professional translator who worked as a part-time contractor for the State Department, worked with Veselnitskaya last year on an effort to roll back the Magnitsky Act, a law passed in 2012 which allows for sanctions against Russians accused of human rights abuses. Veselnitskaya has used Samochornov’s translation services in court proceedings for cases she has in the US. The pair are also founding members of an obscure non-profit group registered in Delaware called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation (HRAGIF)." [ NOTE : HRAGIF claims to advocate for the adoption of Russian children by Americans, which was banned by Russian president Vladimir Putin in retaliation for passage of the Magnitsky Act.] • When Daily Caller tried to phone ANATOLI SAMOCHORNOV in July 2017, he declined to discuss either his work with Veselnitskaya (because of client confidentiality agreements) or whether he was involved in the Trump Tower meeting. But, the Daily Caller states that : "A State Department official confirmed to the DC that Samochornov was a contractor for the agency through Meridian International Center, a non-profit public diplomacy organization. The contract under which Samochornov worked ended in September [2016?], the official said. Samochornov has also worked for State’s Office of Language Services as a contract interpreter for exchange programs. Though the page [Linkedin] appears to have not been updated recently, Samochornov says that has worked as an “Interpreter at high level UN and private sector meetings for the Secretary of State [Hillary? or earlier?] and other VIPs,” and that he also worked to “develop programs that establish an understanding of US foreign policy goals and objectives for current and future international leaders” and represented the US government “in securing cooperation of key US resources in corporate, governmental and NGO community.” The Daily Caller says it is not clear whether Samochornov had security clearances in those roles that would seem to involve sensitive diplomatic issues. It is also interesting that Samochornov's wife lists herself on social media as a program officer at the State Department, and that she recently translated for Veselnitskaya and Katsyv during a court hearing held in the Prevezon case on May 3. • Samochornov has been identified, according to the Daily Caller : "as having lobbied US lawmakers to rollback the Magnitsky Act. Emails first reported last year by The Daily Beast show that Samochornov and Veselnitskaya worked closely to undercut the Magnitsky Act by setting up the screening of a film that questioned the story of the law’s namesake, a Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky. Bill Browder, a London-based investor who has accused Veselnitskaya of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act because of her anti-Magnitsky lobbying, told TheDC that Samochornov translated for the lawyer during his deposition for the legal case involving Katsyv. That case was settled in May with Katsyv’s company, Prevezon Holdings, agreeing with the Justice Department to pay a $6 million fine." Browder was deposed in the case because money stolen from his companies back in 2007 was allegedly laundered through the US real estate market by Prevezon Holdings and other Russian companies. Browder is the leading proponent behind the Magnitsky Act -- Sergei Magnitsky was Browder’s lawyer when he uncovered the $230 million money laundering scheme targeting the financiers’ firms. Magnitsky died under mysterious circumstances in 2009 in a Russian prison, where he was sent after being accused (falsely, says Browder) of perpetuating a fraud scheme of his own. • ROB GOLDSTONE, who set up the Jyne 2016 meeting, is an English publicist, music manager and former tabloid journalist, who gained international attention for his activities during the 2016 US Presidential election campaign, when he helped set up the Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya. Goldstone refused to answer questions posed by the Daily Caller in 2017, as did Veselnitskaya. But, Goldstone did talk ot the UK Telegraph in November 2017. Goldstone, a former journalist, told the Telegraph he was working for a Russian oligarch, Aras Agalarov, and his pop singer son, Emin, who had appeared with Mr Trump during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. He said Emin asked him to reach out to the Trump campaign with an offer of help. The email that Goldstone sent to Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016, said : “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr Trump -- helped along by Aras and Emin.” Goldstone insisted to the Telegraph that he was not part of a Russian plot to influence the election : “When people said that, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard." • Business Insider reported in December 2017 that Goldstone "reportedly sent follow-up emails to a Trump aide afterward," quoting a CNN report. Business Insider retold the CNN report : "Goldstone reportedly sent an email to Trump aide Dan Scavino, who is now the White House director of social media, encouraging him to persuade Trump to publish a page on VK, a Russian social-networking website. In the email, Goldstone also mentioned that Trump Jr. and then-campaign chairman Manafort would go along with the idea. It was not previously known publicly that the parties who attended the Trump Tower meeting communicated afterward, and Trump Jr., has told congressional investigators he had not personally followed up with the attendees. According to CNN's sources, no follow-up emails were sent directly to Trump Jr....Another source claimed that it was a 'cute marketing idea' and that Goldstone had previously pitched the idea as the Trump Tower meeting was ending. Five days after the Trump Tower meeting, Goldstone also sent an email with an article on Russia's hack of the Democratic National Committee in Spring 2016 to Emin Agalarov, one of his clients; and Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who attended the meeting, according to CNN. In his email, Goldstone called the news of the DNC hack "eerily weird" because of their discussion at the meeting. The DNC hack raised eyebrows because when Goldstone initally pitched the meeting to Trump Jr., Goldstone had suggested that Natalia Veselnitskaya -- the Kremlin-linked lawyer who attended the Trump Tower meeting -- would offer dirt on Hillary Clinton. That information allegedly never materialized; the parties instead discussed Russian adoptions in the US, according to Trump Jr. The emails were discovered by congressional investigators and were brought up in a closed-door hearing with Trump Jr. and the House Intelligence Committee....Trump Jr. testified in September  that the meeting at Trump Tower was only 20 to 30 minutes and that he "never discussed the meeting again" with "anyone else. In short, I gave it no further thought," Trump Jr. said in a statement." Business Insider said : "The meeting has been heavily scrutinized by congressional committees and special counsel Rober Mueller -- who heads the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign." • On July 18, 2017, the Washington Post published an article about IKE KAVELADZE, a US-based employee of a Russian real estate company, who took part in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr. The WP said : "Ike Kaveladze attended the meeting as a representative of Aras and Emin Agalarov, the father-and-son Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, according to Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs who said he also represents Kaveladze. Balber said...that he had received a phone call...from a representative of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asking whether Kaveladze would agree to be interviewed. Balber said his client would cooperate." The request was, according to the WP, the first public indication that Mueller’s team is investigating the meeting. The WP wrote : "The presence of Kaveladze at the Trump Tower meeting introduces a new and intriguing figure into the increasingly complex Trump-Russia drama. A native of the Soviet republic of Georgia who came to the United States in 1991, Kaveladze was the subject nearly two decades ago of a congressional inquiry into Russian money laundering in US banks, although he was never charged with a crime and Balber said there was never any sign of wrongdoing by Kaveladze." The WP says that Kaveladze came to the meeting "as a representative of the Agalarov family, business associates of Donald Trump who were also a key tie between the Trump family and Russia in the years before Trump began his campaign. Trump and Aras Agalarov had discussed building a Trump Tower in Moscow, but plans fizzled after Western sanctions were imposed in 2014 and the Russian economy tanked, the elder Agalarov told The Post last year....Kaveladze works as a vice president focusing on real estate and finance for the Agalarovs’ company, the Crocus Group, Balber said. Balber said that Aras Agalarov asked Kaveladze to attend on his behalf. Kaveladze is a US citizen and has lived in this country for many years, according to Balber. Balber said Kaveladze believed he would act as a translator but arrived to discover that Veselnitskaya had brought her own translator, a former State Department employee named Anatoli Samochornov." According to the GAO, Kaveladze opened 236 bank accounts in the United States for corporations formed in Delaware on behalf of mostly Russian brokers. The GAO report said that Kaveladze had told officers of two US banks that he had conducted investigations of the Russian companies for which he opened accounts. The report traced the movement of $1.4 billion in wire-transfer transactions deposited into 236 accounts opened at the two banks, Citibank and Commercial Bank. Rinat Akhmetshin told the WP that Veselnitskaya spent a portion of the meeting describing 'a great campaign issue' for the Trumps -- allegations of Russian tax improprieties by a US venture capital firm whose executives were political donors. One of them had donated to the Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the foundation established by former President Bill Clinton that became a target for Republicans who accused the Clintons of rewarding donors with political favors. But, Donald Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya’s information was “vague” and “made no sense,” and he decided the offer of damaging information about Democrats was a pretense to secure the meeting to discuss sanctions. • That brings us to RINAT AKHMETSHIN, also present at the June 2016 meeting. Akhmetshin was a Soviet army veteran whose military service in the 1980s came in a unit whose responsibilities included counterintelligence. Now a Russian American lobbyist, he has earned a reputation as a savvy political operator, at times boosting the reputation of his clients by sullying the reputations of their enemies. He has denied working for the Russian government or intelligence services. Business Insider stated : "In one case, Akhmetshin was tied to the Dagestan-born Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, when Kerimov was involved in a dispute with competitor Ashot Egiazaryan. During Kerimov's conflict with Egiazaryan in 2011, two British lawyers representing Egiazaryan received suspicious emails, sources familiar with the investigation told the Times. Forensic analysis of the emails determined that the messages contained malicious content meant to infect their computers. The emails originated from computers registered with one of Kerimov's companies in Moscow. Later that year, Russia approved a warrant for Egiazaryan's arrest, based on charges of large-scale fraud. Egiazaryan is currently a fugitive and wanted by Interpol. In 2013, Akhmetshin was directly accused of hacking in a separate case. At the time, Akhmetshin was consulting for a law firm representing EuroChem, a mining company owned by a Russian billionaire. The allegations against Akhmetshin claimed he was targeting International Mineral Resources. A source familiar with the case told the Times that Akhmetshin had personally given a flash drive containing hacked documents to a lawyer 'engaged in another matter potentially damaging' to International Mineral Resources. An investigator working for EuroChem's competitor also claimed he'd overheard Akhmetshin saying that he had paid Russian hackers 'a lot of money' for the documents. Court filings reviewed by the Times indicate that the content on the flash drive was also accessed by someone with the initials, 'R.A.' When Akhmetshin was questioned about those events during a deposition, he confirmed he had handed over a hard drive with information about International Mineral Resources, but claimed that the information had come from a Kazakh contact. He denied knowing anything about hacking and said he did not 'know a single person who could do that.' IMR dropped its lawsuit against Akhmetshin in early 2016, the Times reported, and said in a statement that it dropped the charges 'after careful consideration.' " • • • DEAR READERS, the June 2016 meeting is not the point here. The point is that Donald Trump Jr. was set up for a meeting with Russians whose backgrounds are full of Russian intelligence roles or contacts, questionable activities in the US, and the possibility of being a "plant" of the Putin government in a meeting with candidate Donald Trump's son. That Paul Manafort did not know who some of these Russian were is hardly credible. But, if he did not know, who in the Trump campaign staff failed to do the advance work of vetting these people before exposing Donald Trump Jr. to them? Akhmetshin has said that he is a "longtime acquaintance" of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager who was present at the meeting. Manafort denies that he knows Akhmetshin, but Akhmetshin is allegedly a former top advisor to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian strongman whom Manafort is widely credited with helping win the presidency in 2010. Akhmetshin has told reporters in the past that he unsuccessfully tried to consult Yanukovych's pro-Russia Party of Regions before Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014, according to the NYT. Manafort's spokesman, Jason Maloni, denied any relationship between his client and Akhmetshin : "More gossip and unconfirmable nonsense -- Paul doesn't know and hasn't worked with the man," Maloni told Business Insider in response to the Times' investigation. • So, in addition to the Russians already mentioned, we have as possible, although not probable, "plants" both Paul Manafort and Natalia Veselnitskaya. We simply do not yet know who was the point person in the Russian attempt to infiltrate the Trump campaign. But, we do know with increasing certainty, based on everything now available -- emails, sworn testimony, personal interviews -- that the Russian attempts failed. And, we do know that it is entirely possible that the concerted Russian effort to infiltrate the Trump campaign began with the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. And, we know that other groups were very possibly trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign in the same timeframe -- groups such as the FBI and the Obama national security group. • More on this in tomorrow's blog.