Scott Balber Coordinates the June 9 Meeting Story a Fourth Time

This morning, I did a post showing how Rob Goldstone’s story about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting that he plans to tell the Mueller inquiry compared with the three times one-time Trump lawyer and current Aras Agalarov lawyer telegraphed testimony through public stories.

  1. A meeting between Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze (the latter of whom Balber represents as an employee of Agalarov) in Moscow in June 2017, just as Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were both belatedly disclosing the meeting to various authorities; this story appears to have been an attempt to pre-empt the damage that would be done when Akhmetshin’s involvement became public
  2. A Balber trip sometime before October to Russia to coordinate a story with and get documents from Natalia Veselnitskaya to back her version of the talking points she reportedly shared with Trump’s people
  3. Another October story, this “revealing” that Veselnitskaya’s research came from (or actually was shared with) Russian prosecutor Yuri Chaika, but insisting (per Balber) that Agalarov had no ties with the prosecutor

No sooner did Goldstone air his story in public than Balber filled in a hole in the story for Goldstone: he told the Daily Beast that after his client Ike Kaveladze saw an email (from whom he doesn’t describe) indicating that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Don Jr would be at the meeting, he called a close associate of Goldstone’s (and a former employee of Balber’s client), Roman Beniaminov, to find out what the meeting was about. That’s the first he learned — at least as far as he told congressional investigators — that the meeting was about dealing “dirt” on Hillary.

Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that before Kaveladze headed from Los Angeles to New York for the meeting, he saw an email noting that Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. would all be involved. He thought it would be odd for them to attend the meeting, so he called Beniaminov before heading to New York. Both Beniaminov and Kaveladze have worked with the Agalarov’s real estate development company, the Crocus Group.

Balber said that Beniaminov told Kaveladze that he heard Rob Goldstone— Emin Agalarov’s music manager— discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It’s never become completely clear what kind of “dirt” the Russians were talking about.

According to Balber, Beniaminov was the only person to give Kaveladze any information about the meeting’s purpose.

“That was the only data point Ike had, which was inconsistent with everything else he had heard, which was that the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act,” Balber said.

I guess this answers my earlier question on whether Balber went to Thailand to coach Goldstone on his testimony: Nope! That’s why he’s doing it through the press again.

I eagerly await Goldstone’s revised story and Balber’s response, to see if they can finally settle on a story that coheres.

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.

17 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Mueller & co. presumably know what’s going on in terms of negotiating a common narrative, but what the interested parties don’t know is how much evidence has already been gathered. (Though we’ve been led to believe the SCO only discovered the Tower meeting after the NYT story.)

    It feels… hastily done? As if something might hit the press before any of the parties actually get called in to testify.

    • bmaz says:

      If you are right,  then “the parties” are being dipshits and playing right into Mueller’s hands. And, will add, even the usually superb Abbe Lowell is, curiously, playing things in public, via press. Not his normal tact, for the most part. Why do you think that is?

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah. I don’t know. But that is exactly the right question. Abbe Lowell is not a dope. And he does not do PR gratuitously. So, then, what…..?

          Standing on the outside, it does not feel right. I do wonder what is really up.

          • pseudonymous in nc says:

            The reporting back in late October (based on WH sourcing) suggested that Mueller wanted to rattle through interviews with WH officials before Thanksgiving, including Hope Hicks once the Asia tour was over. Let’s assume that those interviews are either done or nearly done. There are congressional schedules for testimony but the timing there is vaguer. Anyway, let’s assume that Mueller’s team has had polite chats with every WH official it considers pertinent to the investigation before it turns to Goldstone, Kaveladze et al.

            The intersection of the sets “Tower meeting attendees” and “current WH officials” is Crown Prince Jared. Maybe that’s why Abbe Lowell has been out and about: a public exchange over disclosure with the Senate Judiciary Committee as a proxy for whatever has already happened with the SCO? Kushner did leave the Asia trip after Beijing*, but that could have been for stirring the pot in Saudi Arabia. If his account of the meeting is already on the books, then there’s an incentive for others (especially Junior) to get their stories lined up.

            I’m equally perplexed: there’s a lot of talking where I’d expect to hear zip nada nothing.

            * remember the thumbs-up photo showing Jared and other awfuls on AF1, which was taken a couple of days before it was posted?

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    When a defense lawyers talks to the press, it’s not to tell the truth or to make full disclosure; it’s to talk about the best possible selection of facts and their interpretation that might keep her client out of the nick. Or have I not been listening to bmaz for a decade?

  3. Willis Warren says:

    There’s an article in WaPo(?) about how Ty Cobb, who seems less competent by the day, is telling Trump the investigation is going to be over soon to CALM. HIM. DOWN.

    This is going to end badly for everyone in the Trump circle. I’d be surprised if anyone escapes jail time.

    • bmaz says:

      Last I recall, the initial last day trial date for Manafort and Gates was agreed by all to be early May, 2018.

      So, no, the investigation will NOT be over anytime soon. Parties and the press can cluck all they want. Actual court calendars matter.

  4. Willis Warren says:

    https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/m/mac.htm

     

    here

     
    Cobb added that those who have already been interviewed by Mueller’s team have left feeling buoyed. “The people who have been interviewed generally feel they were treated fairly by the special counsel, and adequately prepared to assist them in understanding the relevant material,” he said. “They came back feeling relieved that it was over, but nobody I know of was shaken or scared.”
     But the reassurances from Cobb and others — which seem at least partially aimed at keeping the president calm and focused on governing — are viewed by others as naive. 

  5. TomA says:

    Please correct me if I am misunderstanding the crime scenario here.

    Russian agents hack the DNC and Hillary campaign beginning at least as early as mid 2015 and acquire incriminating information which they then offer to the Trump campaign. Offer accepted by high level Trump campaign staff (perhaps including Trump himself) and illegally obtained information was then transferred/used. Crime is conspiracy to violate various federal campaign laws.

    Manafort and/or Kushner may be directly culpable, and Sessions may also have been directly or tangentially involved. If above is correct, then it seems to me that Sessions is the weakest link and most likely to rollover.

  6. Willis Warren says:

    Yes, violation of federal campaign laws and conspiracy to commit computer crimes.

    Trump is going down for obstruction.

    I think everyone in the Trump camp knows this is going to happen, they’re just holding out for a nuclear distraction

  7. 200Toros says:

    Just a thought. I believe that the Watergate investigation was focused on a fairly narrow set of facts/wrongdoings. With Trump/Russia, we have a veritable deluge of illegal/unethical/inappropriate acts committed by virtually every member of Trump’s inner circle, from Trump himself on down, and they continue to commit these acts, week in, week out. I would think  it would be a singular challenge for Mueller to wade through the sheer mass of transgressions to weave it into a clear, concise story-line that a grand jury could easily understand, and agree to do something about it. Please tell me I’m wrong…

    • bmaz says:

      There is a difference between the politically objectionable, the quasi-criminal, and the actually criminal. There may be an over lionization of Bob Mueller going on, and there is. But if there was to be a single figure that could portage credibility with both sides of an increasingly expansive political divide, Mueller is easily as good, if not better, than you could hope for. The Special Counsel has both at once broad discretion, and a man who will, if history is any guide, exercise it minimally. What more do you want?

      We shall see how it plays out, but so far Mueller has been everything you could ask for.

       

      • Rugger9 says:

        I’d agree, his shop is definitely not leaky nor prone to leaving out in play potential appeal points by overreaching in some way.  IIRC Hope Hicks is today’s witness, and like Spicey she kept notes.

        Jared and Ivanka’s dalliances with the underworld will probably (eventually) trigger some action from Mueller like indictments, and that will trigger Kaiser Donald to fire Mueller.  I’d bet the Kaiser would let Junior go down (heck, Jr’s been daring Mueller to take him out) but not Ivanka.

        In the midst of the bluster and posturing, there will be a line that the Kaiser will fight to hold.

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