Why Did Ivanka Run into Just Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin at the Trump Tower Elevator?

In this post, I argued that Natalia Veselnitskaya’s story about her June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner seemed designed (with help from one time Trump and current Agalarov lawyer Scott Balber) to downplay the role of Agalarov employee Ike Kaveladze.

It’s that even with all of Scott Balber’s efforts, there’s still no explanation for why Kaveladze attended this meeting. Given Balber’s significant efforts to minimize Agalarov’s role in the meeting — and his denials that Agalarov might have ties directly to Putin — I find the failure to explain that notable.

The LAT story convinces me I’m right. The basic story is that Mueller has called at least one of the attendees at that meeting back for a second interview; for a number of reasons, it is highly likely that person is Rinat Akhmetshin. The self-interested defense lawyers who are the source of the story suggest that this must be because Mueller is pursuing an obstruction case, not a collusion case.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has recalled for questioning at least one participant in a controversial meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016, and is looking into President Trump’s misleading claim that the discussion focused on adoption, rather than an offer to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Some defense lawyers involved in the case view Mueller’s latest push as a sign that investigators are focusing on possible obstruction of justice by Trump and several of his closest advisors for their statements about the politically sensitive meeting, rather than for collusion with the Russians.

But the far more interesting part of the story is that Mueller wants details about Ivanka’s actions that day, because, the story explains, she ran into Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin by the Trump Tower elevator.

Investigators also are exploring the involvement of the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who did not attend the half-hour sit-down on June 9, 2016, but briefly spoke with two of the participants, a Russian lawyer and a Russian-born Washington lobbyist. Details of the encounter were not previously known.

From that, Twitter conspiracists and Newsweek (which lately has been close to the same thing) are suggesting that Ivanka might be in trouble.

That’s not the point of this line of questioning, in my opinion.

LAT makes it clear (presumably based on Akhmetshin’s story) that the Ivanka exchange happened on their way out of the meeting with Jr and the others.

It occurred at the Trump Tower elevator as the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and the lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, were leaving the building and consisted of pleasantries, a person familiar with the episode said.

According to Veselnitskaya, she arrived with Akhmetshin, Kaveladze, and her translator; Jr and Manafort were in the board room when she arrived.

I came to the meeting with Anatoly Samochornov, a translator, Irakly Kaveladze, a lawyer of my client who helped to arrange for the meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin, my colleague who was working with me on the Prevezon case. We were met by a big, stout man who introduced himself as Rob and escorted us on the elevator to the boardroom. I saw two men in the boardroom – one of them introduced himself as Donald Trump Jr., while the other did not introduce himself.

She says she met with Kaveladze before the meeting.

I met him personally first on June 9 shortly before the meeting.

We had a phone call and met at a café, I do not remember where and at what café.

Though, admittedly, every single thing she says about Kaveladze is sketchy.

Finally, Veselnitskaya denies that she met with Glenn Simpson before and after the meeting, a story Fox News reported that “a confidential source” told it.

Last week Fox News 38 referring to a confidential source reported that I met with Glenn Simpson before and after the meeting with Trump’s son, and that “but hours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, in a hearing on the DOJ’s claim against Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus company owned by a Russian businessman Denis Katsyv.” This statement does not reflect the reality.

Nowhere in Veselnitskaya’s story addresses how or in whose company she left the meeting.

But the LAT report suggests she left with Akhmetshin. The report mentions nothing about the presence of Goldstone or Kaveladze, waiting at the elevator, chatting up Ivanka.

So did the two Agalarov employees stay later, which would leave them in a room alone with Don Jr and Paul Manafort?

Update: I’ve corrected this to reflect that Veselnitskaya said she did arrive with Kaveladze.

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.

91 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    This is what happens to most people when the fib for cover stories: the details don’t match.  Stuff like when V met A that day serves as a pointer that something is not being said that is important.  Veselnitskaya is (probably) not a complete dimwit given her connections to the Putin regime, they don’t send dummies overseas.

    Mueller and his team are using these points to crack open the meeting and who said what to whom.  I would also suspect there are security cameras in the building that shows who walked about with whom as well.  These would be lined up with the emails accessed perfectly legally from the transition team to look for mismatches and patterns.

    I would agree for the moment that Ivanka is not in the soup for the June 9, 2016 meeting, but the people she encountered were two short from the attendee list, and it’s a good catch to raise that question: how long did the meeting really go on?

    • bell says:

      “This is what happens to most people when the fib for cover stories: the details don’t match.” true.. it is also what happens when some people forget the exact details, given their unimportance…  which is it here?

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Just for efficiency’s sake, 🛎🔚, let us know what your excuse will be when the “unimportance” line is no longer operative.

        • bell says:

          you are more silly then i thought! how about you let us know what your excuse will be when mueller is unable to find anything on the topic of russia threw the usa election? thanks..

          • bmaz says:

            How about the next time you lob up this trolling bullshit I bounce you? The choice is yours, but I grow very tired of your relentless crap.

              • pseudonymous in nc says:

                “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”

                I get it. Carrying water for a bunch of liars is hard, but you can’t dodge the lies upon lies upon lies as if every day wipes the slate clean.

                And I’m the bozo?

          • SC says:

            There’s no need for excuses. As far as I know, Mueller has not been asked to “find anything on the topic of russia threw the usa election”.

            Mueller’s brief at the DoJ is to “find any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and any matters that may arise thereof.

             

             

      • Rugger9 says:

        Well, true to a point.  But once Mueller told NV he wanted to chat, I would suspect as a reasonably competent lawyer she would know to cover all of the bases, just in case.

        Note also that I suspect Ivanka didn’t mention this meeting on her SF-86 either.

  2. pseudonymous in nc says:

    We know what Blabber Balber’s been doing to keep the story straight. We’re not yet certain who his primary client is out of the ones he’s fronting for: that is, the one who’s potentially most in the shit.

    (Akhmetshin has separate counsel, Michael Tremonte, who has no-commented or been very circumspect in public statements.)

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Quick follow-up for the legal professionals:

      If Balber is indeed simultaneously representing the Agalarovs and Kavaladze in their interactions with the OSC, what would create sufficient conflict to have to drop one or more as a client?

        • emptywheel says:

          Given that all the representatives from the Russian side who attended this meeting, save Kaveladze, have expressed some degree of fear of the mob, I think Kaveladze’s interests will be whatever Agalarov says it will be.

  3. yastreblyansky says:

    Manafort meeting separately with Akhmetshin and Kaveladze and the “plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats” (i.e. prints from the DNC emails) after the Junior meeting, maybe in his own Trump Tower apartment? I have no idea whether the configuration of the TT elevators makes that possible, but I’ve got the impression that Manafort was using the apartment around that time.

  4. DomyeWest says:

    Very interesting. I reread your earlier analysis, and I am so very confused about Ike. I have no clue who he is, what he does, or how he is connected. But it seems that he and Goldstone stayed behind- I wonder if they saw Trump, as Bannon said they would.

    OT: you said in late Nov that very soon news would break linking Trump directly to Flynn’s problems. Any more news on this? Has it been exposed and I didn’t notice? Thanks.

    • yastreblyansky says:

      It was horseshit, but that’s what <a href=”https://apnews.com/dceed1008d8f45afb314aca65797762a”>Akhmetshin</a> said, and the DNC emails did have donation and donor vetting records for all of April-May that the Russians had just acquired, and they couldn’t have known for sure it was horseshit yet: “Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more.”

      I figure these guys assume as a matter of course that everyone’s as corrupt as they are and there had to be evidence in those emails.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    OT (for which I apologize) but something that has been hammered into the MSM by the GOP defense team about the claim Mueller is overstepping his bounds.  I’d like to see our resident legal beagles look over the letter and see if it matches DKos’ take: no, he is not.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/7/1730593/-Mueller-s-Appointment-Letter-Says-More-Than-You-Might-Think

    The letter itself, from DOJ (Order # 3915-2017):

    https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/967231/download

    This also points to a Cornell Law link about jurisdiction.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/600.4

    I would suspect this should put to shame the Jordans and Gaetzes and Grahams trying to shut down the investigation.

    • bmaz says:

      No, not even close. The original grant was quite broad, Rosenstein has been monitoring, and has given a clean bill. The is Trumpian garbage that is being pitched as to scope.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    People in this line of work may walk through rooms in which they don’t know everyone.  They would not enter meeting rooms without knowing who should be there.  They would not begin a meeting without knowing everyone there, and wouldn’t talk about anything but the front page of the local newspaper without having vetted them in advance.

    So the supposition that Mueller’s team thinks this is a bullshit cover story seems pretty solid.  The question is what did they think is the real story and what do they have to prove it.

    So far as the Trump Tower geography goes, one can assume all the usual word games will be played to World Cup standard.  So one would need to know about public and private meeting rooms, internal stairwells, private access to various rooms, and such things as telecomms connections among them.

    Trump raised the latter issue in his recent televised  performance as High Chancellor Sutler for the WH press corps.  It would allow a deceptive wordsmith to deny that a physical meeting took place when a virtual one did.  The permutations are many.

    • bmaz says:

      Doesn’t it mean Mueller is being thorough, and doing his job to check out all leads, just like he was commissioned to do?

      For the life of me, I cannot see why this is controversial in the least.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree.  Mueller knows that any prosecutions he pursues will be dissected minutely – legally, politically and socially – and defended to the hilt.  The health and viability of the presidency and the Constitution might depend on how good a job his team does.

        I would imagine his team was drilled in that on day one.  They will be extraordinarily thorough.  Tracking individual movements before, during and after a crucial meeting, and detecting and challenging inconsistencies among various stories, would be par for the course.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nothing would limit Mueller from investigating obstruction along with other crimes committed within the scope of his authority.  The idea that looking in one direction precludes him from also looking in another is Trumpian thinking.

  8. wayoutwest says:

    It must be exquisitely painful for the snowflakes to face the reality that their year of hyper activity and pressure has produced nothing of substance to dethrone their nemesis.

    To make it much much worse we now learn the only real crime investigation by the DOJ/FBI involving the candidates is the ongoing grifter Clinton Foundation scandal.

    Perhaps when this finally ends we can have a national moment of scilence to reunite the country as we move on to MAGA.

  9. Rugger9 says:

    In a related note (it’s about the meeting) Bannon’s apology didn’t work.  As Melania might say: Ban heem! (h/t Tommy T at First Draft).  Anyhow, Bannon of all people would be aware of the Kaiser’s propensity to discard people who are no longer useful, it’s something he helped along.  Let’s also remember that books are not like emails, any editor worth their salt would try to get the nuances right or shave down controversial rough edges if for no other reason than the prospect of litigation.  Because Wolff may not have the highest journalistic credibility, the publisher would make certain about the claims (like with those tapes that are rumored). What that means is that Bannon clearly meant what he said, and I suspect Wolff has more than scribbled notes to back his story up. What will the deplorables do, back Bannon or Trump? Only 4chan can tell us and I’m not linking to there, ever.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/01/steve-bannons-groveling-apology-was-for-nothing-white-house-officials-say-trump-still-furious/

    But, most important: Hahahahahahahaha.

    • Bay State Librul says:

      From the Beast

      “President Trump’s legal team has been discussing how he could avoid an interview with the FBI or special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators as part of the probe into Russian meddling in during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new report from NBC News. Such internal discussions reportedly began just after Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Trump, was indicted in October for money laundering. Trump’s team is said to be considering sending written responses or an affidavit instead of Trump having a formal face-to-face sitdown with investigators. It remains unclear whether Mueller would ask to interview Trump directly, but sources who worked in the Justice Department cast serious doubt on any possibility that Mueller would ever give up the opportunity to interview Trump directly. “Prosecutors want to see and hear folks in person,” former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg told NBC News.”

      Comment: Plead the Fifth, or ask the FBI for a multiple choice Q&A. They have been negotiating since October… what the fuck?. Donnie can’t con Mueller

       

       

    • Rugger9 says:

      One of the things that has been bugging me about the NYC Feebs is why they were so rabidly anti-HRC to feed Comey all of those leaks on the emails (noting that Huma Abedin’s back in the Congressional investigation barrel if Grassley gets his way), even though they would have been well aware of the Kaiser’s peccadillos through their monitoring of mob activities.  I don’t think money alone explains the kid gloves, but this might:

      Donald J. Trump, Kaiser-wannabe POTUS, is an informant for the FBI hiding in plain sight.

      It would explain the strange lack of interest in the Russians’ antics (I would bet all of those conversations reporting to Putin are in NSA archives about the June 9, 2016 meeting) and the ridiculous claims made breathlessly about Huma’s computer having all kinds of incriminating material even though they hadn’t searched it yet since they didn’t have a warrant.  It’s a remarkable double standard, and only an active source would be protected in this way in my view.

      It also would underscore why Comey’s dismissal appeared to be so insisted upon by the Kaiser, if this idea is correct it was because he thought he had a deal and the Feebs welched on it.

      Of course, such a revelation would put Donald in everyone’s doghouse.

      • bmaz says:

        The “we didn’t have a warrant” is a ruse. They did not seek one earlier, and refused to ask for consent to search from Abedin and Weiner who both would have readily given it.

      • Trip says:

        How about warring factions or loyalties within the FBI?

         

        The briefcase full of cash, 1988. Donald Trump personally sold two units in Trump Tower to Robert Hopkins, the mob-connected head of New York’s largest gambling ring. As the late Wayne Barrett of The Village Voice told the story, Hopkins, who had no verifiable legitimate income or assets, showed up at the closing with a briefcase full of $200,000, which he counted at the table. To complete the purchase, he got a loan from a New Jersey bank that did business with Trump’s casino. Trump summoned a limousine to ferry the cash to that bank.

        “Tony Lombardi, the federal agent closest to then-U.S. Attorney [Rudy] Giuliani, opened a probe of Trump’s role” in the transaction, Barrett reported in the 1993 Village Voice story he reprised last year for the New York Daily News. The feds subsequently made a case against Hopkins’ mortgage broker, Frank LaMagra, who offered to give up Trump and even wear a wire. Lombardi’s response? He went straight to Trump, who denied any wrongdoing, and that was that. Lombardi “closed the Trump investigation without even giving it a case number,” according to Barrett. “That meant that New Jersey gaming authorities would never know it existed.”

        Shortly after Lombardi approached him, Trump announced that he’d raise $2 million “in half an hour” if Giulianni ran for mayor. He later channeled $41,000 into the future mayor’s 1989 campaign.
        “Lamagra got no deal and was convicted, as was his mob associate, Louis (Louie HaHa) Attanasio, who was later also nailed for seven underworld murders,” Barrett wrote. “Hopkins was convicted of running his gambling operation partly out of the Trump Tower apartment, where he was arrested.”
        And Trump just kept on Trumpin’. Why didn’t Lombardi go harder on Trump? He doesn’t seem to have told anyone, and City Paper could not locate him for comment.

        http://www.citypaper.com/blogs/the-news-hole/bcpnews-five-times-law-enforcers-could-have-arrested-donald-trump-but-didn-t-20170306-story.html

        Is Giuliani a guest on Fox News anymore, leaking FBI secrets? He seems to have gotten  very quiet these days.
        Rudy Giuliani law partner to replace Preet Bharara, noted prosecutor tapped to run Brooklyn’s U.S. Attorney’s office
        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rudy-giuliani-law-partner-replace-preet-bharara-manhattan-article-1.3735631
        Trump considered replacing Gorsuch with Giuliani, book says
        http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/04/politics/trump-giuliani-gorsuch/index.html

  10. Rugger9 says:

    The warring factions idea would not explain the depth of betrayal in the Kaiser’s tone with the FBI. It would not for example explain why Comey would follow up in their gumshoes verbatim (especially if he was briefed on the priors that were already known). There had to be something else there that needed protection from release by shutting down the line of questioning. Revealing a key source would do that.

    DJT was a close associate of Rudy (noun, verb, 9-11) Guiliani who is tight with the NYC Feebs. He was also (due to his well-documented business financial woes) close associates of the Russian mob and the American mob. One can’t ask for a better wire-holder who (because of his fame and Rudy connections) would be untouchable as well for the usual methods of teaching manners by the mobs if I were in the NYC FBI office.
    As long as the laundering progressed smoothly, there would be no reason to upset the arrangements. Mueller threatens that and probably has surveillance intercepts to provide the foundation for his questions.

    BMAZ – good catch on the warrant, I was just trying to note that the NYC Feebs didn’t know what Huma’s computer had since they knew they hadn’t looked yet.

    And FWIW, Trump’s attorneys will graciously let him submit a written statement in lieu of a direct interview with Mueller. I think Kasowitz, et al. know that an actual interview (like the one Ken Starr leveraged out of SillyBilly Clinton in part due to Kellyanne Conway’s husband) would go very badly.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/8/1730739/-Trump-s-attorneys-want-to-skip-interview-present-Mueller-with-a-Get-Out-of-Investigation-Free-card

    • Trip says:

      I’m not sure I’m getting where you think Trump would be a worthwhile asset. Do you think he was informing during the campaign, or are you suggesting he was an informant in the past, with low level mob figures and considered that a pass on crimes for life? If you intend the latter, maybe, I guess. The former, no, since there isn’t a bigger fish to fry. I tend to lean more toward dirty business and contributions or quid pro quo in the past with Giuliani and loyalties within NYC feds trying to push him into office.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The Kaiser is connected in documented ways that I’ve noted before, that makes him worthwhile because he is a known quantity for all sides.  The Mobs of various nationalities loaned him money to stay afloat (since all of the other banks except Deutsche Bank wouldn’t lend to him for prior sins, and he even sued DB as well [side note, that’s probably why Mueller subpoenaed those DB records, it makes no sense to loan serious money to a well-known deadbeat]) and would therefore expect to have him under control.  However, the Feebs could also gain control as well once DJT started his (alleged) laundering operations and since it seems DJT is something of a coward as well, he decided to be a double agent.  As long as DJT played ball with the Mob, they would not suspect him wearing a wire.

        He was enough of a celebrity that the usual rules would not apply for frisking, etc., which would also protect him from being taught the usual lessons.  Sater in this scenario was there in Trump Tower as a minder, and I would be surprised if the NY families didn’t have someone there as well.

        Saying the NYC Feebs would have leverage over the DC Feebs would require some evidence, and FWIW I think only the source idea would make DC hold back.

        On something raised in another thread, the question of why Wikileaks only released the Democratic stack is actually fairly simple, it is part of the Russian support for the Trump campaign, noting that it could also explain why Graham is now all-in on the Kaiser (something in the closet, Lindsey?) after describing him as a “xenophobic, race baiting, religious bigot” during the 2016 campaign.  That’s part of what is in the GOP stack waiting for release when the GOP stops doing Putin’s bidding.

        Whether Lindsey is gay or not doesn’t concern me (we are all weird in our own ways).  It is his hypocrisy about social issues and his flip-flopping on DJT to become an active enabler that leads me to believe he has been blackmailed.

        Gorka confirms Wolff’s access while trying (and failing) to smack down the book:

        https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/8/1730831/-Nazi-former-Trump-aide-confirms-controversial-book-author-had-access-to-top-White-House-staff

        • Trip says:

          Trump wasn’t even able to remain undercover with his self-promotional ‘John Miller’ act back in the 80s, when he was still able to form full coherent sentences. As far as mob figures and criminals, you can’t BS a BS-er. I don’t think Trump is that good of a liar to be undercover, present day, but I suppose anything is possible.

          I could see Trump believing he had it covered because he had Sater (who is a known asset) working for him, and also because he was in the pocket of many politicians in the past.

          I think the NY Feds who were feeding info to Giuliani might be of the retired variety who heard tales out of school from insiders, and leaned toward Rudy and Trump. I don’t think they necessarily had leverage over Comey or DC Feds, other than that they were leaking and if he didn’t announce it, it would appear as if he was involved in a cover-up of what was on the computer. Maybe that was the intention. He took a beating from the right for announcing Clinton wouldn’t be prosecuted before this.

          I’m not sure that there is any Russian kompromat on Graham, as a motivator for his behavior. I think greed is good enough. They made their benefactors happy and rich with deregulation and tax cuts, etc. which will then translate into more gold for them. They’ll stick with Trump since he takes all of the hits in the press, while they roll merrily along screwing the citizenry with little coverage.

          “Dr” Gorka confirming he’s a dull blade, yes, I read that.

    • greengiant says:

      Not the first to suggest this. Seems Sater was working for the FBI and US national security in Russia after being an informant. Sater’s FBI handlers become Trumps personal bodyguards.

      There is the sealed EDNY court case against Sater.  Perhaps Avattoir is permitted to discuss how the good guys feel about this.

      http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article1941682.html

      http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article170086107.html

      There are allegations of the revolving door between FBI, ( Buck Revell ), CIA, ( Woolsey for one ), Oligarchs, Mob, Money laundering, Casinos, Al Qaeda/KSA/Jihadis, Intelligence and security contractors, all with ties to Trump. Cannot fit Fuller, Boston bombers and Gulen into this matrix,  perhaps a competing clique?

  11. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Meltdown

    If you use Windows pre-10, I recommend that you make sure Windows Update is turned off today. Let others be the beta testers until next month.

    Some problems you could encounter:

    Will not finish boot due to your antivir.

    Broadcom WIFI may stop working.

    Some AMD machines may crash. This is very suspect because AMD processors DO NOT have the Meltdown issue.

    In fact, all of this news about Meltdown and Spectre came out early (before 2018-01-09 – Patch Tuesday) because of a patch for Linux.
    The patch provided clues about the problem, and because the patch was public, the news came out earlier than planned. In fact, Windows 10 probably already has the patch.

    As the issues have been known for some months, this leads to some questions:

    Is this why the Intel CEO sold a bunch of stock?

    Is this why Mike Rogers is resigning?

    Was the Meltdown problem really a clever backdoor paid for by NSA?

    Note: Spectre is a different can of worms, that affects even non-Intel machines.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump as a spy or an intel asset? Get a grip.  What spy other than Bill Haydon would recruit Donald Trump to be one of their own “assets”?  Every agency would offer him to every other agency as a way to undercut them.

    The guy is a train wreck.  He is ignorant and incapable of learning. He can’t keep his mouth shut or lie on cue, even to save himself.  He would reveal whatever he knows to anyone to whom he could brag about it.  He is unpredictable, uncontrolled and uncontrollable.

    He’s lazy as hell – check reports of his purported “work” schedule:  Five and a half hours of private time out of every eight and a half – television, naps, working on his private business – interspersed with short briefings and meetings, then more cheeseburgers, tv and bed before the evening news.  As Digby puts it, that’s not a work schedule, it’s a 12 year-old on summer vacation.

    Trump breaks every promise he makes.  He lies at the drop of a comb-over, not strategically or tactically, but to make himself look good.  Even if you threatened his manhood or his family, who could rely on his information? 

    The only way he could be an asset is as an unintentional one, and they’re the kind that get people killed.

    • Rugger9 says:

      So, why the kid gloves at FBI for the Kaiser?  Like I said, there needs to be a rational, non-Rudy explanation for how far the NYC Feebs went on HRC without pushback from the DC Feebs.  If you have an alternative that explains this better, let’s see it.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT for bmaz, hope the additional 3.3 million Takata airbags being recalled doesn’t delay BMW in promptly replacing yours.  The other option is to go vintage beemer and make do without the bag.  1988 M5 sounds about right.

  14. rg says:

    I can’t get it out of my head that the Russian lawyer came to the US, bringing her “translator” to attend a meeting. Now she could have brought a secretary or a bodyguard,  but whatever their function, they would be her employee, so their expenses,  as well as their safety in a foreign country, would be her responsibility. Yet if the narrative of the coincidental pleasantries at the elevator is to be believed, it would suggest that the translator got left behind, somewhere, if not in the meeting room.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Safe to assume that “translator”, if it applies at all, is only one of his qualifications.  I suspect that he would be quite capable of handling himself in any situation, in any country, without much help.

  16. JAAG says:

    Never thought about this before, but it just makes sense for a dictator to send people out in twos – keeps both on message and two reports back are better than one. Apparently, Putin has gone as far as staging fake coups to weed out would be conspirators in Kremlin circles.

  17. Rugger9 says:

    OT, but important: I see Cliven Bundy and his gang walked free due to piss-poor prosecutor conduct.  It remains to be seen whether this was a case of incompetence (i.e. the Steinle verdict) or a case of throwing the game because the heart wasn’t in it (i.e. Trayvon Martin and the kid in Cleveland) by the prosecution.

    Something will be said about this.

  18. Avattoir says:

    A lot on this thread I don’t follow, some I can’t (too speculative, silly, stupid, whatever), some I won’t; but my main source of annoyance here lies in not knowing sure where to put these:

    1. What if the renewed R interest in Benghazi is to entertain Trumpster peons & other distract from their real interest: going after the Clinton Foundation donors?

    2. Convenient timing, this distracting idea of whether & how this President might be ‘interviewed’ – for both sets of attorneys:
    OTOH, nice for those who wish to maintain the illusion the SC’s work being ‘nearly done’, plus their cred with their client, and,
    on the other, those who wish to keep working.

    Seems a lot of billable time’s going towards trips to Toys R Us.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah. Hey could be wrong, but I don’t think Mueller shop is all that close to scheduling a sit down with Trump. If Dowd and Sekulow inquired about it, I am sure Mueller would say “sure, we are going to want that”. But they are still receiving financial records that must be analyzed and worked up. Were it me, I think I’d want further discussion with Kushner and Jr. first too. But, like you say, maybe the ruse calms Trump and the GOP stormtroopers down.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Agreed.  One strategy would be to interview Trump last.  He’ll be the devil’s own to get there in the first place, in person, on the record, and under oath. They might have only one good chance at it.

        As you say, Mueller would also want to have heard from Trump’s direct reports and to digest the volume of other information they must be getting, especially detailed financial records, and to understand any criminal implications and proof problems those present.

        Trump will likely attempt to interpose conflicting appointments, tiredness, forgetfulness, etc., as need be, to try to control the length and intensity of his interrogation.

        Nor is Trump likely to perform well. He’s likely to further implicate himself, and he’s more than likely to go ballistic as he contemplates how poorly he did and needs to compensate for it.  Then there’s the possibility he pulls a Capt. Queeg, complaining about strawberries, or a Colonel Jessup, “You’re Goddamn right I did!” 

        If Trump’s advisers are telling him, “This is almost over,” it’s another TrumpWorld fantasy.

  19. wayoutwest says:

    @Pseudo

    You. sweetie, and the cat seem to be overwrought about this dog and pony show while I make observations about it at my leasure.

    The snowflakes continue to believe their inquisition will produce witches for the flames while reality shows them caught in a Duck Hunt scenario where they are the ducks.

    • bmaz says:

      Give it a rest with your “sweetie”, “cat” and “snowflakes” bunk. You comment here at our grace, NOT your “leisure”. We can fix that if you keep it up.

      • cat herder says:

        bmaz, note this character uses some very odd misspellings and phrases that seem… OK, all I will say is odd. I wonder if their logged IP is the actual IP the message came from? Might be interesting.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT, on today’s White House theme that Jared and Ivanka should be given a break because they are children of the principal – in mafia-speak, and on John Rain’s hit list, that puts them off limits.  And because they are “sacrificing” for their country.  Self-serving special pleading from the nonsense president.

    The Don leaves no one off his hit list when he needs to feel better by brutalizing someone in public.  He and Jeff Sessions are quite happy to destroy the families of immigrants, whether pregnant or paraplegic; to destroy victims of the opioid crisis, poor children needing medical care, everyone who needs an education.  In short, he’s happy to piss on all Americans not on his Christmas card list along with his Wall Street pals.

    As for Jared and Ivanka, their only sacrifice is putting up with Daddy.  Otherwise, they’re making money and improving their brand, while being protected on the public dime.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The principal reason Jared and Ivanka should not be treated differently than Trump or Flynn is that both are public employees (whether paid or unpaid), with presumably high security clearances, working in the White House directly for the President of the United States.  They are public figures responsible for some of the most important issues in American government.  That each is someone’s child is irrelevant and a distraction.  This White House is full of them.

    • dc says:

      The FBI had a mole in the Trump Campaign in September 2016, who validated parts of the Dossier.

      page 174-175:

       
      You said that he told you of the meeting
       
      19 with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that
       
      20 he “gave them a full briefing”?
       
      21 A. A debrief I think is what he probably
       
      22 said, they had debriefed him. I don’t remember him
       
      23 articulating the specifics of that. You know, my
       
      24 understanding was that they would have gotten into
       
      25 who his sources were, how he knew certain things,
       

       
      Page 175
       

       
      1 and, you know, other details based on their own
       
      2 intelligence. Essentially what he told me was they
       
      3 had other intelligence about this matter from an
       
      4 internal Trump campaign source and that — that
       
      5 they — my understanding was that they believed
       
      6 Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s
       
      7 information might be credible because they had
       
      8 other intelligence that indicated the same thing
       
      9 and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human
       
      10 source from inside the Trump organization.
       

      • Trip says:

        He first indicates the Trump Campaign but later changes it to the Trump Organization. It’s quite possibly Sater then (part of the organization and not the campaign)?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Do not believe entire dossier out.
      Just testimony about it.
      Not the same thing.
      But definitely issues inside SJC.

  21. uncle tungsten says:

    Thanks Trip, i value your contributions. Sater is the main man in so many ways. I sometimes speculate he has a parallel role with Migolevitch and co.

    • Trip says:

      Thank you, I appreciate it, but my guess was wrong. Fusion GPS said it was Papadopoulos by way of the Australian Ambassador.

      • uncle tungsten says:

        The Australian Ambassador in UK is a dunce and a big noter. That said, that is a mighty curious encounter and much more needs to be revealed about that meeting before it can be taken for real.

        None of this though takes away from the Felix Sater and Viktor Khrapunov links to Kushner. I apologize for that opaque statement but from where I observe there is a mighty close mob connection and given Sater’s bragging about his arms dealings at the scale he claims then Mogilevitch cant be far removed from the circuit. The way I see it, this is all about mob based competitiveness and both Trump and Clintons are on the skids. Trump’s election shattered the old system of patronage in the Republicans so anything goes until the air clears and new bonds are created. Likewise the Democrats. 2018 is looking entertaining.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Don gave his good friends at Deutsche Bank a lovely Christmas present:  Millions in fines were waived by the Trump administration against five megabanks, including DB.

    Trump and his empire owe Deutsche Bank between 130 and 300 million dollars.  After six bankruptcies, the Don has only DB to turn to when he needs money for his leveraged empire.  It’s his organization’s principal creditor, the one that keeps it afloat.

    The fines, in the billions, were levied in connection with fraudulent manipulation of LIBOR, the benchmark interest rate used in global lending.  But Germany’s big bank is no one trick pony. In recent years, DB has also been heavily fined in connection with mortgage fraud and money laundering.

    No quid pro quo there.  Nope.  None at all.  How do you say corrupt in German, or does it sound better in Russian?

    • Rugger9 says:

      It is rather curious that the NYC Feebs weren’t interested in these details regarding DJT, as I’ve noted before, DJT has had extremely lenient treatment (compare for example to Martha Stewart’s run-in with the Feds) for what is clearly suspicious activity with known criminal elements.  Perhaps that is one (of many) reasons Preet Bharara was let go (although the Trump SoHo project appears to be the primary reason), because he was actually going to prosecute this stuff.

      It’s why I am trying to figure out what leverage the NYC Feebs used to keep the DC Feebs from overruling them on the Trump information, while blasting HRC innuendo everywhere with impunity.

      The problem for the Kaiser is that NYS law is also applicable since the activity took place there and involved NYSE investors.   NYS AG Schneiderman will not let this go, and only Andy Cuomo can get him off the hook.  For Cuomo, it will be about the price to do the deed, DINO that he is.

      • Trip says:

        While I would entertain any possibility in our surreal reality, Martha Stewart was not an insider to the system, so it’s not apples to apples. Trump spread campaign money far and wide, and who knows what else (crony capitalism), to politicians in the tri-state area.  Stewart was an easy target for making an example of.

        One example here of a Dem power boss, who is still chummy enough with Trump to visit Maralago:

        Another member is George Norcross, an insurance executive and the South Jersey Democratic Party boss, whose friendship with Mr. Trump dates to the president’s Atlantic City years, when Mr. Norcross held insurance contracts with Mr. Trump’s casinos, and Mr. Trump wrangled with the state’s Democratic leaders over tax treatment of the properties.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/us/mar-a-lago-trump-ethics-winter-white-house.html

        Martha Stewart was a rich celebrity, but not connected, if you get my drift. Additionally, Trump was, and still is, a pal of Gov. Christie, who would also have close FBI contacts, having been the US Attorney for NJ. Did you see his interview where he cloyingly kept mentioning “Jim”, while referencing Comey (before he was fired)? It reeked of over-familiarity and sounded like a plea of “Remember me, when we were buds?” And of course, his relationship with (Ex-Mayor and Ex-Prosecutor) Giuliani is obvious.

         

    • Trip says:

      I don’t understand how he would even remotely have a case against Fusion GPS since they did not publish or make public the dossier.

      Cohen is also a public figure, but I believe that accusing a public figure of a crime would be an exception permitting a defamation suit to go forward. So is Cohen asserting that what the dossier alleges is, indeed, a crime? That would seem to contradict the Trump camp in their recent defenses of  “These things never happened, but if they did happen, it’s not against the law” theme.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Interesting. Fed vs State.

      The Fusion GPS lawsuit, which was filed at a federal court level, seeks $100 million in damages. A separate amount in damages for the BuzzFeed lawsuit, which was filed at the state court level.

      [Possibly an example of never interrupting when enemy is making a mistake?]

      • Rugger9 says:

        I’d be interested in bmaz’s and Earl’s take on this situation.  It does not seem sensible to me to open the door for discovery motions by the defense team, I suspect these are generally more open-ended than plaintiff ones since they will look for impeachment options.  Plus, getting Cohen on the staand for cross examination would be comedy gold.

        Since Cohen is a public figure, the bar for defamation goes up, but probably more to the point: truth is always a valid defense against defamation claims.  Randi Rhodes won a case years ago on that point against a defense contractor.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Me too!
          Buzzfeed is based in NY.
          Certainly that suit was filed there.
          More Metadata to collect.
          Note BMAZ keeps saying, no pardon for state crimes.
          Popcorn?

  23. Karl says:

    Thanks to everyone here for all the posts, and especially Marcy, for all her investigative work !

    I fully understand the desire to get rid of Trump by any means (though maybe with Pence waiting in the wings it’s not clear that it would actually be beneficial from a progressive standpoint).

    Having said that, I remain agnostic on the Trump Russia collusion allegations.  But clearly Marcy and many of the the posters here are far more knowledgeable about the allegations and the case in the general.

    To that end, could someone point me to a post from Marcy (or anyone) where the dots are joined at least where the strong suspicions of those who believe the collusion allegations are laid out ?

    I’m struggling here as few of the pieces of the ‘puzzle’ appear to actually fit together but rather appear mutually contradictory.

    A couple of examples to illustrate my point.

    If Russian intelligence indeed had ‘Kompromat’ on Trump or/and had ‘turned’ him (per the Steele dossier) then why would they have needed to use George P. as a channel in order to offer ‘dirt’ on Hillary ?  Surely they would have had a discreet and secure channel already established ?

    If Mannafort is or rather was their man in the Trump team, why would they have needed to arrange a meeting with these Russian lawyer go-betweens ?

    How do Flynn’s contacts with the Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. fit into the puzzle, if at all ?

    What ‘dirt’ did the Russians allegedly give to the Trump campaign on Hillary( if anything) and how was it provided ?

    Were the Russians simultaneously giving the allegedly hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks while also offering them to the Trump campaign via George P. ? Or if the George P. related ‘dirt’ was different, what was it, and was any other ‘dirt’ on Hillary ever released ?

    If the Russians are indeed blackmailing Trump (i.e. the core allegations of the Steele dossier are correct) why haven’t they already released what they have to ‘punish’ him for failing to deliver anything tangible if only to make an example of him so that any future U.S. political figure will take note that they are not to be messed with ?

    I’m interested not so much in specific answers to the above questions (I threw them out there to illustrate the apparent contradictions ) but rather, again, an overview of how all these allegations fit together into some kind of coherent collusion conspiracy (for me they don’t but that might be down to my lack of knowledge).

    There is much talk of flipping Mannafort, George P. , Flynn etc. That assumes that these individuals have more involvement/knowledge of this alleged conspiracy. Could someone familiar with the details point me to somewhere where their suspected roles in this conspiracy are described ?

    So far, it looks to me like a disjointed and potentially contradictory set of allegations.

    Apologies if this has all been covered in a previous post from Marcy and thanks in advance to anyone who can give me some pointers.

     

     

    • Trip says:

      Surely they would have had a discreet and secure channel already established ?

      Jared Kushner discussed creating a secret communications channel with Moscow – reports
      Russia’s ambassador told his superiors that he and Kushner discussed ways to shield White House transition team discussions from monitoring, sources said
      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/26/jared-kushner-russia-secret-communications-channel

      I guess he could’ve been slow on this idea?  Who is to say what other type of communications were used before this?

      If Mannafort is or rather was their man in the Trump team, why would they have needed to arrange a meeting with these Russian lawyer go-betweens ?

      Trump’s son looking to elevate his position and get respect from a critical father? Putin creating degrees of separation in dispersal of the info? I would think relying on only one point person would be risky, as well. Maybe Manafort and Trump’s relationship wasn’t solid. He kept firing people. Perhaps there is an advantage to making it all appear ‘more obvious’ as well.

      How do Flynn’s contacts with the Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. fit into the puzzle, if at all ?

      Flynn gave a heads-up about not reacting to then President Obama’s tossing of the diplomats, in that sanctions would be dealt with later. Flynn was clearly looking to make money personally on other ‘diplomatic’ work. He looked like a good mark who had a price.

      If the Russians are indeed blackmailing Trump (i.e. the core allegations of the Steele dossier are correct) why haven’t they already released what they have to ‘punish’ him for failing to deliver anything tangible if only to make an example of him so that any future U.S. political figure will take note that they are not to be messed with ?

      The goose isn’t cooked yet, is it? And who knows whether Trump was actually ‘blackmailed’ or if he already had a natural affinity or loyalty for the power structure in Russia because of his finances? Trump is making the US seem (more) insane and erratic. That perception allows Russia more room internationally, when the US isn’t even completely trusted by allies. That is tangible. So win/win either way.

      I think up to this point, obviously there is no evidence beyond reasonable doubt, but it may just be the case that we really haven’t seen any evidence from the investigation. There are only circumstantial connections between Trump’s circle and Putin, or Putin proxies and Trump’s persistent bro-crush and push-back on any Putin criticism whatsoever. To list all of those connections and sketchy attachments would require going back through a year’s worth of reportage. No one really knows if connections were criminal, simply corrupt, or nothing at all.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Nice point about Putin and Trump.  All an adversary needs to do to weaken the United States is to put him in charge and let Trump be Trump. Chaos and dysfunction follow him like a dirt cloud follows Pig-Pen.

        If Putin had an eye on him, as an old recruiter and handler of spies, he would have identified Trump’s weaknesses in about the time it takes to down a shot of vodka or execute an uki goshi.

        But odds are following the money is the best bet.  After six bankruptcies, it’s Trump’s and his organization’s fundamental weakness – and the easiest way to leverage the whole family.

  24. Trip says:

    @uncle tungsten

    There’s no doubt that Sater is sketchy as F, and also a singing canary. He would be the most obvious candidate for an intelligence source inside Trump Organization. I just wanted to be accurate as far what the Fusion GPS statements and associated sources allege as far as their released testimony. He is directly tied to Trump too, not just Kushner. It would seem that there would have had to have been more than the ambassador’s tip. Maybe the FBI doesn’t want to admit that they accepted the dossier as evidence, after using ‘Clinton Cash’ for same?

    • Trip says:

      OR…It was Sater all along and they are hesitant about blowing his cover?  Another possibility is gov’t intercepts, either UK or US, that no one in the private sector wants to admit they had access to or knowledge of, along with the dossier? Of course, it could also be the Dem benefactor persisting in the narrative that they should find the Russian/mob/gov’t connections. Or a combo of all of the above.

  25. greengiant says:

    Trump Tower hijacked by dossier yet again. But a person associated with Fusion GPS says Australian ambassador Downer was source. What oar did Akhmetshin put in the water? Dossier as talking point deza also indicated by interest of Steve McIntyre and Arbed in Papadopoulos narratives. G2 commenter Tvor_22’s reddit account deleted. People doing jail time for Stratfor hack, but no investigation of Weiner phone hack. Still waiting for 650,000 emails from the laptop.  It is not about Clinton, it is about GOP operative crimes. The 28,000 released from State department recently, are they part of the mythical 33,000? Comey’s May testimony of nothing to see and FBI correction of a few thousand both look crazier. I’m going with G2 being a GOP operative due to early reach outs from GOP/Sputnik to G2.

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