In the late afternoon of June 9, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin arrive at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Rob Goldstone, a translator, and Ike Kaveladze, a businessman associated with the Agalarov family of Russian oligarchs.
It is also possible that Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican party, is in attendance; he has a lunch meeting with Manafort before the Goldstone meeting.
According to Donald Trump Jr., Veselnitskaya called the meeting to discuss her disdain for the Magnitsky Act of 2012, which placed sanctions on Russia before the country’s annexation of Crimea and infiltration of Ukraine.
Overturning the Magnitsky Act is seen in Russia as a first step to ending all sanctions.The Washington Post
Leaked emails make it clear that the meeting was to discuss the Clinton campaign, and Trump Jr. knew it. The president, his father, was also informed of the meeting beforehand by his attorney Michael Cohen. Donald Trump approved the meeting before Trump Jr. agreed to it.
Emails between lawyer/publicist Rob Goldstone and Trump Jr. prove that Goldstone arranged the meeting specifically to discuss Clinton on behalf of his Kremlin-connected oligarch clients, the Agalarov family. Donald Trump previously partnered with the Agalarov family in hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. (Goldstone also offered a meeting between Trump and Putin a year earlier.)
[Goldstone] wrote to Donald Trump Jr. that he could arrange a meeting with “the Russian government attorney” who could convey “information that incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr. responded that “if it’s what you say I love it.”
Following the meeting, Trump Jr. made three phone calls. The first was to Emin Agalarov. The second was to a blocked number revealed to be Vector CEO Howard Lorber, a friend of Donald Trump, investor in Russian real estate, and economic adviser to the campaign. Lorber traveled to Moscow with Trump in 1996. The third call was, again, to Agalarov.
Rumors swirled for over a year that the blocked call was to Donald Trump. Even though it wasn’t, Trump Jr. felt the call to Lorber was significant enough to a) block it and b) refuse to say who he had called.
Veselnitskaya denies that she has ever worked for the Russian government, and the Kremlin claims they don’t know who she is. Despite those claims, she attends a U.S. House committee hearing on Russian sanctions a few days later and attends an inaugural event in January.
After their emails leak in 2017, Trump Jr. admits to everything except that he ever received the “opposition research” he expected.
Photo: Gage Skidmore