“This is the first legitimate indication I’ve seen that there was any sort of funny business going on between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government — and not just “the Russians,” but the Russian GOVERNMENT specifically.”
Let’s not get ahead of the story. The email that included the statement that has vexed you was written by a British PR agent named Rob Goldstone based on information relayed from his client, Emin Agalarov, in Moscow.
Nowhere in the email does it imply that the opposition research was obtained by Emin Agalarov or his father, Aras. Instead, Goldstone states that the mysterious “Crown Prosecutor of Russia” met with his father Aras and offered to “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia”. It is important to note that Goldstone’s email suggests that the “Crown Prosecutor” would provide the documents to the Trump campaign; not the Agalarovs.
Enter the equally mysterious intermediary, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who Goldstone referred to in his email as a “Russian government attorney” who would meet with Donald Trump Jr. to present the incriminating information. Of course, she has now claimed that she was not linked with the Kremlin and never possessed incriminating information on Clinton.
Veselnitskaya’s account contradicts both Don Jr’s and Goldstone’s description of the meeting. In her interview with NBC, she said “I never asked anybody for a particular meeting with Mr. Donald Trump Jr., or with anybody else,” and , in describing how the meeting came about, NBC reported that she “didn’t” name the person who set it up over the phone while she was in New York for work.
Who was her contact in New York? We know from a recent report in Circa, that Veselnitskaya was connected with Fusion GPS, a firm with deep connections to Clinton and the DNC who hired former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to produce the “dodgy dossier”. The Circa report included the following comment from President Trump’s attorney;
“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump’s legal team. “Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier. “
Other mysterious details surround Ms. Veselnitskaya.
- Although she had previously been denied a visa to enter the US in January 2016 to defend her client, Russian businessman Denis Katsyv — also represented by Fusion GPS — in June of 2016 the US government provided her with a “parole letter” to enter the country.
- Only 8 days after her meeting with Don Jr., she was filmed sitting immediately behind Obama’s Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, during a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Although it has not been confirmed that she attended the meeting at the invitation of Ambassador McFaul, it’s well established that her seat is typically reserved for staff, family or other VIP’s invited by the hearing witnesses.
I am not promoting a conspiracy theory, but it is apparent that there are more questions that need to be answered. Consider, for example, the relationship between President Trump and the Agalarovs in Moscow. Their association was well established and publicly known through media reports of their former collaboration on projects, including the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant. If there was a deviant scheme to associate Trump with the Russian government during the campaign, this would be a promising avenue:
- ‘Crown Prosecutor’ approaches Agalarovs in Moscow to inform them he/she is in possession of opposition research that implicates Hillary Clinton.
- Emin Agalarov contacts Rob Goldstone and asks him to inform Donald Trump Jr. of their contact with the ‘Crown Prosecutor’ and schedule a meeting with an unidentified intermediary who is described only as a “Russian government attorney”
- On the day of the meeting, a private Russian attorney, Ms. Veselnitskaya, who claims to have never asked for the meeting with Don Jr. or possessed any incriminating evidence on Hillary, attends the brief meeting prepared to discuss an alternative agenda — the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, which would restore U.S. adoptions inside Russia.
Hey, it’s just a theory… .? Nevertheless, if there were such a scheme, Don Jr. sure looks dim for falling for it.
In regards to your probative article, I agree with most of your conclusions. I have no doubt that Russia preferred Trump over Clinton. The Obama administration was ramping up tensions well before the campaigns began and Hillary likely represented the status quo in their eyes. Nevertheless, there is no prima facie evidence that Russia actually “supported” or “colluded” with the Trump campaign to interfere in the 2016 election. There is substantially more evidence that Ukraine government officials privately aided Hillary’s campaign with opposition research on Trump. Since we were not at war with either country during this period, treason is not a chargeable offense in either case.
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, either levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort with the U.S. or elsewhere.” — Article 3 of the Constitution and codified in 18 USC 2381
In regards to your question; “what laws were broken?”
There is no federal statute that forbids ‘collusion’ with a foreign government during a political campaign. It is not a crime. Collusion exists only in anti-trust laws which prohibit anti-competitive activities under Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Legal experts have suggested that the only potential offense that can be considered in Don Jr’s case would be a violation of FEC rule 11 CFR 110.20. This would require that the transaction of information provided by the Russian attorney to the campaign be classified as an in-kind campaign contribution from a foreign national. This would be a stretch as well since foreign nationals are permitted to volunteer personal services without making a contribution.
“Generally, an individual (including a foreign national) may volunteer personal services to a federal candidate or federal political committee without making a contribution. The Act provides this volunteer “exemption” as long as the individual performing the service is not compensated by anyone.” FEC Legal Resources
Since there is no evidence, at this time, that President Trump was involved or aware that this meeting occurred, political impeachment is unlikely. Even if he were aware of the meeting or participated, there is still no impeachable offense unless evidence is produced that Veselnitskaya was acting as an agent of the Russian government. Meeting with a private citizen of a foreign country to receive opposition research is shady but does it merit consideration as a “high crime and misdemeanor”? If articles of impeachment were drafted on such flimsy evidence, I can’t imagine that it would pass a House vote.
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Section 4 of Article Two of the United States Constitution
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Rex…www.washingtonexaminer.com
Based on her Tweet three days before her meeting in Trump Tower, she was no fan of our President. Bizarre?