Another Collusion Narrative Dies: New Emails Support Trump Jr.’s Account Of Infamous “Russia Meeting”
Another Trump-Russia collusion narrative has bitten the dust.
In a stunning revelation that goes a long way toward alleviating the cloud of suspicion that has hovered over Donald Trump Jr. since details about a meeting organized by Trump Jr. involving Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort along with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and her entourage were first publicized in July, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that newly disclosed emails between Veselnitskaya and Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov largely support Veselnitskaya’s account that the meeting focused on her yearslong lobbying effort to kill the Magnitsky Act.
The emails, which were provided to WSJ by Scott Balber, a lawyer for Agalarov, cover a period of time leading up to the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. They begin in October 2015, when Veselnitskaya first shared information about her anti-Magnitsky efforts with Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.
Veselnitskaya also shared allegations about a US investment firm called Ziff Brothers possibly dodging taxes in Russia. The firm later donated to Democrats.
In October 2015, Ms. Veselnitskaya shared information about her anti-Magnitsky campaign with Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, a top official appointed by the Kremlin, Mr. Balber said. In May 2016, less than two weeks before the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya also provided Mr. Agalarov with a five-page set of talking points that included the same information she had given Mr. Chaika, Mr. Balber said.
Included in the information she shared with the men, Mr. Balber said Monday, was a single reference to Mrs. Clinton. Ms. Veselnitskaya alleged that a U.S. firm, Ziff Brothers Investments, had dodged taxes in Russia and later donated to Democrats, including possibly Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Chaika’s office released a statement in spring 2016 alleging Ziff Brothers Investments of evading taxes in Russia. The company hasn’t been charged and has previously declined to comment on the allegations.
The emails largely support Trump Jr.’s and Veselnitskaya’s version of events. Trump said the meeting proved disappointing. In July of this year, after reports of the meeting first emerged, Trump said that Ms. Veselnitskaya “stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Clinton,” but “it quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.” Trump said he cut the meeting short after Veselnitskaya started talking about the Magnitsky Act.
The meeting is now being probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether associates of Mr. Trump colluded with Moscow as part of his probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter.
The emails represent a blow to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s been aggressively investigating the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya. While Trump Jr. is still exposed for his infamous “if it’s what you say it is then I love it” comment made in response to publicist Ronald Goldstone’s claim that Veselnitskaya had damaging information about Clinton – the pretext for setting the meeting – all of the leaks have so far supported Trump Jr.’s version of events: Namely, that Veselnitskaya did not provide Trump Jr. with the “opposition research” he had been seeking.
We suspect this new information will not be the lead story on MSNBC, CNN, or at The Washington Post.