Don Jr Does Not Recall Not Recalling Rinat Akhmetshin at the June 9 Meeting

Don Jr had himself a “Half Hillary” today, upwards of five hours of testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, after which the low-stamina 39 year old called it quits.

Already, Senators Blumenthal and Coons suggest there were gaps or clear lies in his testimony. And apparently after the testimony, Robert Mueller alerted the White House he’ll seek testimony from the people who helped Pops Trump write a misleading statement about the meeting.

The reason for that is obvious: in his statement, Jr changed his story from what the original White House statement was, to offer an explanation for how the Pop-crafted statement makes sense. He knew the meeting pertained to dirt on Hillary, but ultimately it was just about adoption.

In his email to me Rob suggested that someone had “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia” and that the information would be “very useful” to the campaign. I was somewhat skeptical of his outreach, as I had only known Rob as Emin’s somewhat colorful music promoter who had worked with famous pop singers such as Michael Jackson. Since I had no additional information to validate what Rob was saying, I did not quite know what to make of his email. I had no way to gauge the reliability, credibility or accuracy of any of the things he was saying. As it later turned out, my skepticism was justified. The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out not to be about what had been represented. The meeting was instead primarily focused on Russian adoptions, which is exactly what I said over a year later in my statement of July 8, 2017.

Of course, by crafting that nonsensical statement, Don Jr is making it clear a quid pro quo was discussed: Dirt, in exchange for movement on the Magnitsky sanctions.

I’m more interesting in the things the forgetful 39 year old could not recall. While his phone records show he spoke to Emin Agalarov, the rock star son of Aras Agalarov, who has been dangling real estate deals in Russia for the Trumps for some time, for example, he doesn’t recall what was discussed.

Three days later, on June 6th, Rob contacted me again about scheduling a time for a call with Emin. My phone records show three very short phone calls between Emin and me between June 6th and 7th. I do not recall speaking to Emin. It is possible that we left each other voice mail messages. I simply do not remember.

This is important, because those conversations probably explained precisely what was going to happen at that meeting (and how it might benefit real estate developer Aras Agalarov), but Jr simply can’t recall even having a conversation (or how long those conversations were).

He also doesn’t recall whether he discussed the meeting, after the fact, with Jared, Manafort, or (the unspoken “anyone else” here is pregnant) Pops.

The meeting lasted 20-30 minutes and Rob, Emin and I never discussed the meeting again. I do not recall ever discussing it with Jared, Paul or anyone else. In short, I gave it no further thought

Once we find out he did discuss it with Pops and others, he can say he’s stupid and we’ll all believe him.

Most interesting, to me, is his claim to only recall seven participants in the meeting.

As I recall, at or around 4 pm, Rob Goldstone came up to our offices and entered our conference room with a lawyer who I now know to be Natalia Veselnitskaya. Joining them was a translator and a man who was introduced to me as Irakli Kaveladze. After a few minutes, Jared and Paul joined. While numerous press outlets have reported that there were a total of eight people present at the meeting, I only recall seven. Because Rob was able to bring the entire group up by only giving his name to the security guard in the lobby, I had no advance warning regarding who or how many people would be attending. There is no attendance log to refer back to and I did not take notes.

The unstated subtext here is even more pregnant. Don Jr accounts for seven of the participants in this meeting:

(3) Himself, Paul Manafort, Jared Kusher

(4) Natalia Veselnitskaya, her translator, the Agalarov’s real estate invstment executive Irakli Kaveladze, and Rob Goldstone

So what he really means to say is he doesn’t recall the presence of Rinat Akhmetshin, who has ties to Russian intelligence and a history of fending off accusations of hacking.

I’d say those three gaps — what Agalarov told him to expect from the meeting in calls arranged beforehand, what he told Pop about the meeting, and that a suspected spook was there — are pretty interesting things for a young guy like Jr to forget.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. dalloway says:

    Shortly after Jr.’s testimony, Senator Coons tweeted the text of the statute detailing the penalties for lying to Congress.  Can’t imagine why.

      • Charles says:

        I know you know this, but: if a crime is charged, a pattern of lying to investigators makes a defense extremely difficult. Prosecutors just bring a parade of witnesses forward to demonstrate that the subject has a history of dissembling, making it clear that he was aware that he had something to hide.

         

        Not to mention that it can contribute to a charge of obstruction of justice.  Get one case of the person lying under oath, and five examples of them lying to investigators otherwise, and it’s pretty clear that the lie told under oath was deliberate, and not the result of a lapse of memory.

         

        I’m kind of glad that prosecutions of lying to Congress are rare. I remember the threats against Lois Lerner, against Susan Rice, and against Hillary Clinton. The Congress is filled with bullies and authoritarians. Thank heaven they don’t have full judicial powers.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    It is also interesting that Jr would not recall Akhmetshin being there since A’s presence was already independently confirmed. Not terribly bright to contradict testimony already in the public record.

    I know I have asked before, but at what point does “I don’t recall” become perjury?

    Also, HRC lasted 11 hours in Gowdy’s Benghazi hearing, but Jr the wimp could only take five (the snowflake).

  3. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Maybe some intel inside the intel inside IC?

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/07/trump-russia-investigation-christopher-wray-no-interference-242448

    Wray, who served as a federal prosecutor before heading up the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said he believes many leaks of national security information don’t come from individuals with first-hand knowledge.

    “More often than not the leaks are not coming from somebody who’s in the inside circle of knowledge in the first instance….There’s an enormous amount of attention focused on this issue. I think a lot of people are taking it very seriously,” the FBI chief said.

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Why Protego? Why is it so different from normal exploits? Why is it offensive?
    Why does it remind me of Dr. Strangelove?

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