The June 9 Trump Tower Limited Hangout

I did two podcasts this week where I elaborated on my theory that the current story we have about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting is just a limited hangout, a partial story that I suspect serves to hide a later, more damning part of the meeting:

I first started suspecting that the current story — that Natalia Veselnitskaya pitched a request for Magnitsky sanctions relief in exchange for … almost no dirt on Hillary — was a limited hangout as I tracked Scott Balber’s repeated heavy-handed attempts to craft a story that could explain the known emails and documents.

I want to lay out my evolving, more developed theory here.

For weeks, Russians had been offering emails in exchange for meetings

The Trump campaign first learned about “dirt” on Hillary in the form of thousands of emails on April 26. The day after learning of those emails, George Papadopoulos sent two emails to Trump campaign staffers, that may have reflected a discussion of an early quid pro quo: some meetings — meant to lead to one between Trump and Putin — in exchange for emails.

To Stephen Miller, Papadopoulos wrote, “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.” To Corey Lewandowski, it appears he asked for a phone call “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the  team  when the time is right.”

That same day, he sent his Russian handler, Ivan Timofeev, an email saying that the first major Trump foreign policy speech he helped author was a “signal to meet.” The speech spoke, in part, about making a great deal with Russia.

I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries.

Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.

Over the course of the next month, Papadopoulos sent a Timofeev invitation for a meeting  to move towards setting up a Putin-Trump meeting via email to Lewandowski (on May 4), to Sam Clovis (on May 5, after which they spoke by phone), and to Paul Manafort (on May 21), with additional back and forth in between.

Who is the Crown Prosecutor?

Around that time in late May, Natalia Veselnitskaya met with long-time Trump associate Aras Agalarov and mentioned her efforts to help Denis Katsyv in his legal fight with Bill Browder (note, elsewhere Veselnitskaya claimed she normally keeps her clients’ business compartmented, but claims not to have done so in this case) and to lobby against the Magnitsky sanctions. That’s where, according to Veselnitskaya, the idea of connecting her with Don Jr first came about, though she doesn’t remember who came up with the idea.

Around the end of May 2016, during a conversation with a good acquaintance of mine, being my client, Aras Agalarov on a topic that was not related to the United States, I shared the story faced when defending another client, Denis Katsyv, about how terribly misled the US Congress had been by the tax defrauder William Browder, convicted in Russia, who, through his lobbyists and his close-minded rank-and-file Congress staffers, succeeded in adopting the Act in the name of a person whom Browder practically hardly ever knew.

I considered it my duty to inform the Congress people about it and asked Mr. Agalarov if there was any possibility of helping me or my colleagues to do this. I do not remember who of us was struck by the idea that maybe his son could talk about this with Donald Trump, Jr., who, although a businessman, was sure to have some acquaintances among Congress people. After my conversation with Mr. Agalarov, I prepared a reference in case it would be necessary to hand over the request – to support the hearings in the Subcommittee in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs as to the Magnitsky’s and Browder’s story, scheduled for mid-June.

The timing of this meeting is important. We know that the date on the document alleged to be the “dirt” handed to Don Jr — one that she claims she prepared “in case it would be necessary to hand over” is May 31. Either this meeting happened before May 31 (which is when Veselnitskaya described it to have taken place), or the document was instead drawn up exclusively for lobbying purposes (which would be unsurprising, but would be inconsistent with the testimony that uses the talking points to prove the meeting was only about Magnitsky sanctions). Elsewhere she gets sketchy about the date of the document, and produced as it was by Agalarov lawyer Scott Balber, we can’t be sure about the forensics of the document.

The reason the date is important, however, is that, in pitching the Trump Tower meeting on June 3, Rob Goldstone told Don Jr that Emin Agalarov’s father met with “the Crown Prosecutor” that morning.

Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin. [my emphasis]

Admittedly, any discrepancy on dates might be due to the game of telephone going on — Aras to Emin to Goldstone. But if the meeting in question really did happen on June 3, then it significantly increases the likelihood that “Crown Prosecutor” is not at all a reference to Veselnitskaya (who claims to have met with Agalarov earlier), as has been claimed, but is to someone else, dealing a different kind of dirt.

Spoiler alert: I suspect it is not a reference to her.

In his version of this story, Goldstone says he only played this broker role reluctantly.

“I remember specifically saying to Emin, you know, we probably shouldn’t get involved in this. It’s politics, it’s Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Neither of us have any experience in this world. It’s not our forte. I deal with music. You’re a singer and a businessman.”

Don Jr seems to have shown no such reluctance. He emailed back 17 minutes later saying, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” He says that, in spite of the claim he made in his testimony that, “I had no additional information to validate what Rob was saying, I did not quite know what to make of his email.” Whatever Don Jr expected it to include on June 3, he may have gotten a clearer sense of what it was on June 6, when he spoke to Emin in a phone call set up in about an hour’s time, just as Emin got off the stage.

In fact, Don Jr had three “very short” phone calls in this period, but he’s getting forgetful in his old age and so doesn’t remember what transpired on them.

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.

Veselnitskaya did not get her visa to come to the US until June 6. That’s the day when Goldstone, referencing Don Jr’s earlier instructions on timing, followed-up about a meeting.

Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info.

Ike Kaveladze’s still unexplained late inclusion in the meeting

Goldstone was still finalizing the meeting time on June 8 at 10:34 AM. But sometime, presumably after the time on June 7 at 6:14PM, when Don Jr told Goldstone that Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner would also attend, fellow Agalarov employee Ike Kaveladze got invited, though without Veselnitskaya ever learning why. At some unidentified time, Kaveladze called an associate of Goldstone’s and learned that the meeting would be about discussing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — the same word Papadopoulos’ handlers had used.

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.

Having learned of a meeting dealing dirt that included Don Jr, Kushner, and Manafort, Kaveladze got on a plane and flew to NYC.

According to Veselnitskaya’s very sketchy account, she got an email finalizing the meeting when she arrived in NYC on June 8 — an email that was also CC’ed to Kaveladze. She and Kaveladze spoke by phone sometime that day, and met sometime before the meeting.

With those present at the meeting, Samochernov, Kaveladze, and Akhmetshin, I spoke about the meeting on the day it was to be held, possibly, I mentioned it the day I arrived in New York when speaking with Kaveladze by phone, but I do not have exact information about it.


We got acquainted first by phone when I was in Moscow. 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. I told him briefly what I knew about the Browder case, about the Ziffs and their possible support when lobbying his interests in the United States.

Like Don Jr’s memory of his phone calls with Emin, Veselnitskaya claims to have forgotten what got said in that phone call with Kaveladze.

Competing versions of the meeting

Which brings us to June 9.

We don’t know what Kaveladze’s schedule was. We do know that on the morning of June 9 — before lunch, which is when Veselnitskaya said Akhmetshin first got involved — Veselnitskaya asked Goldstone if she could bring Akhmetshin, whom she claimed had just “arrived that day in New York for an evening performance of Russian theatre stars.” Goldstone responded a half hour later, “Please bring them with you and meet Ike for your meeting at 4PM today.” (The copy of the email publicly released does not include the CC to Kaveladze that Veselnitskaya said was included.)

As I laid out in this post, Veselnitskaya says she arrived at the meeting with her translator, Kaveladze, and Akhmetshin, was met by Goldstone there, and brought to a board room where Don Jr and Manafort were already present.

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. Another young man entered the boardroom a little later and left it shortly afterwards. I found out much later that the two unidentified gentlemen were P. Manafort and J. Kushner.

According to Veselnitskaya, Kaveladze was introduced — to the extent he was — as “Ike.” Remember that he attended the 2013 dinner celebrating the Agalarov-brokered deal to bring Miss Universe to Moscow, meaning at least some in the Trump camp should know him.

Veselnitskaya’s account seems to line up with Jared Kushner’s, which basically has him arriving late, staying for about 10 minutes of Veselnitskaya’s discussion of adoptions (though he seems to be claiming not to be present for any discussion of Magnitsky sanctions), then asked his assistant to give him an excuse to leave.

I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted.

Jared claims not to know who was at the meeting, which is somewhat credible given that he arrived after introductions.

For some reason, Goldstone holds out the claim this meeting started by talking about Democratic campaign donations then moved to sanctions.

Goldstone tells me that he only half-listened to the presentation from Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, as he checked emails on his phone. But he insists, as Trump Jr has done, that the meeting ended awkwardly after she switched tack from discussing Democratic funding to US sanctions legislation and Moscow’s retaliatory policy that restricts Americans from adopting Russian children. “It was vague, generic nonsense,” Goldstone says.


“Within minutes of starting, Jared said to her, ‘Could you just get to the point? I’m not sure I’m following what you’re saying,’ ” Goldstone says.

It was then that she started talking in detail about the provisions of the Magnitsky legislation and adoptions, he says. “I believe that she practised a classic bait-and-switch. She got in there on one pretext and really wanted to discuss something else.”

Don Jr’s memory of the meeting is somewhat different. Not only doesn’t he remember Akhmetshin’s presence at all, but he remembers Manafort arriving after the visitors were already in the conference room (mind you, I don’t consider this a significant discrepancy). And he definitely remembers adoptions being discussed at the same time as the sanctions.

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.

After perfunctory greetings, the lawyer began telling the group very generally something about individuals connected to Russia supporting or funding Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee. It was quite difficult for me to understand what she was saying or why. Given our busy schedules, we politely asked if she could be more specific and provide more clarity about her objective for the meeting. At that point, Ms. Veselnitskaya pivoted and began talking about the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and something called the Magnitsky Act.

Until that day, I had never heard of the Magnitsky Act and had no familiarity with this issue. It was clear to me that her real purpose in asking for the meeting all along was to discuss Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act. At this point, Jared excused himself from the meeting to take a phone call.

Despite some minor differences in choreography, thus far the differences in the stories are not that substantial.

That changes, though, in the descriptions of how the meeting ended.

Don Jr claims he said that Trump was a private citizen so could do nothing to help.

I proceeded to quickly and politely end the meeting by telling Ms. Veselnitskaya that because my father was a private citizen there did not seem to be any point to having this discussion.

Goldstone claims something similar — that Don Jr told Veselnitskaya she should talk to Obama’s Administration, not the future Trump one.

“Don Jr ended it by telling her that she should be addressing her concerns to the Obama administration, because they were the ones in power.”

But in an an interview with Bloomberg that Veselnitskaya disavowed in her statement to SJC, she said that Don Jr suggested he would reconsider the sanctions “if we came to power.”

“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,’’ Trump Jr. said of the 2012 law, she recalled. “I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,” he added, according to her.

The extra details in the contemporaneous record as interpreted by Glenn Simpson

As far as we know, there’s only one contemporaneous record of this meeting: the notes that Manafort — whom Veselnitskaya claimed “closed his eyes and fell asleep” during the 20 minute meeting — took on his phone. Glenn Simpson was asked to comment on Manafort’s notes in his Senate testimony. Some of what he describes confirms these public accounts: the early reference to Browder, the other reference to Juliana Glover, the reference to adoptions.

MR. DAVIS: These are the meeting notes from 3 the June 9th meeting at Trump Tower. These are Mr. Manafort’s notes or they’re contemporaneous.


A. I could tell — obviously you know who Bill Browder is. Cyprus Offshore, Bill Browder’s structure, you know, investment — Hermitage Capital, his hedge fund, set up numerous companies in Cyprus to engage in inward investment into Russia, which is a common structure, both partially for tax reasons but also to have entities outside of Russia, you know, managing specific investments. I can only tell you I assume that’s what that references. I don’t know what the 133 million —


A. I can skip down a couple. So “Value in Cyprus as inter,” I don’t know what that means. “Illici,” I don’t know what that means. “Active sponsors of RNC,” I don’t know what that means. “Browder hired Joanna Glover” is a mistaken reference to Juliana Glover, who was Dick Cheney’s press secretary during the Iraq war and associated with another foreign policy controversy. “Russian adoptions by American families” I assume is a reference to the adoption issue.

While Simpson doesn’t recognize the reference, in addition to the passing reference to Cyprus shell companies, the notes allegedly used for the meeting explain the 133 million reference.

In the period of late 1999 to 2004, two companies – Speedwagon Investments 1 and 2, registered in New York, and owned by the said U.S. investors, acting through three Cypriot companies, Giggs Enterprises Limited, Zhoda Limited, Peninsular Heights Limited illegally acquired more than 133 million Gazprom shares in the amount exceeding $80 million in the name of the Russian companies Kameya, Lor, Excalibur, Sterling Investments.

But there seems to be more extensive reference to Cyprus (the laundering of money through which, of course, Manafort is himself an expert; it features centrally in his indictment).

And none of the accounts of the meeting seem to explain Manafort’s half-written “illicit,” nor does “Active sponsors of RNC” appear anywhere.

So there appear to be two things in Manafort’s notes that aren’t explained by the several accounts of the meeting: RNC support (elsewhere attributed to the reference to Ziff brothers’ political donations, something which Manafort might independently know) and, most intriguingly, “illicit” (as well, as perhaps, the more central focus on Cyprus than reflected in the talking points).

Who left the conference room when?

This brings me to the question of who left the conference room when.

According to the LAT, Mueller’s team seems newly interested in an exchange between Ivanka, Veselnitskaya, and Akhmetshin, which attests to Ivanka’s awareness — whatever her spouse’s and brother’s ignorance — of Akhmetshin’s presence.

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.

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. But Mueller’s investigators want to know every contact the two visitors had with Trump’s family members and inner circle.

But it also may suggest that, after arriving with the two Russians, Ike Kaveladze may have stayed on for a bit afterwards.

Which may be backed by another detail in the various accounts of the meeting. Both Don Jr …

She thanked us for our time and everyone left the conference room. As we walked out, I recall Rob coming over to me to apologize.

And Goldstone claim that the music promoter apologized for the meeting at the end.

As he emerged from the meeting, Goldstone says that he told Trump Jr he was “deeply embarrassed” that it had been an apparent waste of time.

If Goldstone “apologized” for the meeting, as he and Don Jr claim, it suggests Goldstone, at least, stayed behind long enough to say something that would otherwise be rude to say in front of Veselnitskaya. Don Jr’s claim of an apology might provide convenient excuse.

Perhaps most curious among the first-hand accounts is Goldstone’s claim that he thought the 20-30 minute meeting was “dragging on.”

He had not even planned to attend, but was encouraged to stay by Trump Jr. His biggest concern, he says, was that if the meeting dragged on, he would be caught in the notorious Lincoln Tunnel traffic on his journey home.

But her emails

At 4:40 PM, 40 minutes after the meeting started, Trump tweeted what would become one of the most famous exchanges of the campaign, his retort to Hillary Clinton’s taunt that he should delete his Twitter account with this response,

Did you say “dirt” in the form of Hillary emails?

Six days after that meeting, Guccifer 2.0 released the first of the documents stolen by hacking Democratic targets (though note, none of these are known to have come from the DNC, which is the only hack the WaPo reported on the day before; while some have been traced to Podesta’s emails, the others remain unaccounted for).

While I have argued that the specific content in that dump can be explained, in significant part, as an effort to respond to and rebut the claims CrowdStrike and the Democrats made to the WaPo, some of the documents would be particularly valuable in selling the Trump team on the value of any “dirt” on offer. That includes the oppo research on Trump himself (though that was definitely also a response to the WaPo), but also what purports to be a secret policy document stolen from Hillary’s Secretary of State computer, and a document on Hillary’s election plans. Significantly, all three of these documents were among the ones with the altered metadata, in part bearing the signature of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky.

In short, that first post from Guccifer 2.0 would not only refute the confident claims the Democrats made to the WaPo, but it would provide the Trump camp with a sense of the scope of documents on offer. Within that first week, Guccifer 2.0 would even offer what claimed to be a (heh) “dossier” on Hillary Clinton. (Given my concerns that Russians learned of the Steele dossier and filled it with disinformation, I find it rather interesting that Guccifer 2.0 first advertised this dossier on the same day, June 20, that Steele submitted the first report in his dossier.)


If, in fact, there was a second part of this meeting, it seems to be the high level meeting that George Papadopoulos had been working on setting up for weeks, meetings discussed in the context of offering dirt in the form of emails. The Russians laid out a quo — relief of the Magnitsky sanctions — and a week later, provided the first installments of the quid — oppo research from Hillary Clinton.

That would more readily explain why, on June 14, Goldstone would forward this account of the DNC hack to Emin and Ike (but not the other attendees) declaring the DNC hack to be eerie in the wake of what transpired at the meeting.

In one email dated June 14, 2016, Goldstone forwarded a CNN story on Russia’s hacking of DNC emails to his client, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, and Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who attended the meeting along with Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Manafort, describing the news as “eerily weird” given what they had discussed at Trump Tower five days earlier.

And that, I suspect, is the real story that Scott Balber has been working so hard to obscure.

89 replies
  1. bell says:

    “For weeks, Russians had been offering emails in exchange for meetings
    The Trump campaign first learned about “dirt” on Hillary in the form of thousands of emails on April 26.”

    “On March 16, 2016 WikiLeaks launched a searchable archive for over 30 thousand emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was Secretary of State.”

    it appears the trump campaign was slow on the uptake here and why would they need to get the email trash on clinton from russia when it was already in the public domain?

  2. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Hmmm. What about the post hangout hangout that Bannon was sure occurred?

    Interesting timing of recent Bannon events.

    The hiring of William Burck by Bannon.
    The GJ subpoena.
    The House Intel Committee (and subpoena during hearing)

    I wonder, in light of the ‘news’ that Bannon will fully cooperate with Mueller, was he given immunity?

    Will he pass on to GJ ‘stuff’ he learned during House Intel Committee hearing?

    • Avattoir says:

      As I understand, at this point Bannon, or someone purporting to speak for him, is claiming Bannon anticipates an FBI interview. Presumably the impression sought to be left includes that such an interview, per Colonel Saito, has already been arranged.

      Which I don’t get. Why would Mueller give up so readily holding Bannon to GJ testimony, when he knows Nunes has a conduit via Sessions to pry free all FBI interviews? Putting Bannon under oath before a GJ (again, presumably) ensures against the product being sent to Nunes – a state of affairs would, AFAICT, would suit Bannon as well.

        • Avattoir says:

          Not to whip this poor dead horse too much, again: that whole version of a supposed detente between Bannon & Muellers appears all to have come from one side.

          • bmaz says:

            Yes, exactly. There are some interesting dynamics, but I doubt for even a nanosecond that Bannon has been without advisory counsel (and he needed not an atty for the the record before, because he was never formally attached). The way this is being covered in the media is insipid.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Ok then. Got your drift.

      “Wolff’s entree began with Trump himself, who phoned the author in early February to compliment him on a CNN appearance in which Wolff criticized media coverage of the new president.” (Of course.)

      “Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation.”

      [best way to penetrate opsec. Appear as though you are supposed to be there, approved at highest levels]

      “Wolff conducted himself with assurance on his visits to the West Wing, playing up his relationship with Trump. Officials recall Wolff telling them he’d known Trump a long time and that the president called him ‘the best.’”

      “It wasn’t until late August that alarm bells were raised in the White House — when [White House communications director Hope] Hicks, Jared Kushner and their allies realized that fellow aides who had spoken with Wolff, especially Bannon, may have provided damaging anecdotes about them.”

      • Avattoir says:

        Are you sure you have it? The rest of your comment fails to reflect it.

        bmaz’ comment refers to a process that involves a lot of government players, typically takes some time, can & often does get highly complicated, & readily draws public notice – and all of that without the unusual conceptual difficulties given this context, all of which you’ve jumped.

        Among those difficulties would be how much of what Bannon might have in the way of actual information (I doubt Mueller is remotely interested in Bannon’s insider punditry.) was conveyed to him by others (Hearsay to Bannon but potentially admissions against interest by those speaking to him), versus how much he has by virtue of being an event witness, even participant.

        The impression that at least some of the Trump people would seem to want conveyed now is that Bannon has nothing on offer that’s of particualr concern to Trump’s interests falling within the latter category. As to the first category, I would expect even Trump’s supposed lawfare wizards to understand & advise that no presumption of privilege defaults to  cover info obtained that way.

        • bmaz says:

          My take is that Mueller’s shop is just tired of the nonsense, and is desirous of locking him down, one way or the other, and being done with it. And I do not blame him and/or they. Nunes is playing games. Mueller is not.

  3. orionATL says:

    well, well.

    noted forensic archaeologist emptywheel has taken the disarticulated bones found in a cave in trump tower and patiently organized them into a semblance of the political reality at the time.

    does it make sense? of course it does in that political context. was it an easy task to accomplish? not in my view. the facts and info about this meeting have always seemed to me to be thin gruel indeed. but leave it to the relentless emptywheel to pick and place the bones and come up with meaning.

    now its mr. mueller’s time.

  4. orionATL says:

    and now that peculiar, and apparently pointless phantom, gucifer 2.0, has been brought into the scheme.

    this seems a slick, carefully worked out russian production. i can’t wait to see the impending ramifications.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I don’t find credible Kushner’s claim that he didn’t know everyone who was at the meeting, even if I believe he arrived late and left early.

    This was a meeting in Trump’s inner sanctum about a potentially significant source of information that could be important to the campaign.  Both Kushner’s brother-in-law and Paul Manafort were hosting it.  It involved the highest level Russians they’ve admitted to having “meetings” with.

    Billionaire bidnessmen tend to be careful with their time and to whom they give it.  They use assistants to keep track of the details.  Kushner, for example, admits to using one supposedly to give him a reason to leave early.

    In the midst of the campaign, about a month before the GOP convention, I don’t find it credible that these principals would have a meeting about a topic that wasn’t vital to their campaign.  But they would meet a major donor.  They would meet someone who had front page dirt their opponent.  They would meet representatives of a patron, by definition, richer or more powerful than the Trumps.

    The Magnitsky Act (sanctions against Russia, referred to by its flip side as orphan adoptions), is an improbable topic for a meeting.  But it might be an adequate cover to explain the presence of senior Russian intermediaries at Trump Tower.  It would explain the Russian presence, but not the Trumps.

    • Avattoir says:

      Not disagreeing, of course, but given Kushner’s media properties & involvement with Cambridge Analytica, wouldn’t be the MOST likely among him, Junior & Manafort to get all the names & roles straight? And as well, the most appropriate from the Trump side to serve to introduce the hangers-back to New Jersey Fats?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s hard to accept that Kushner showed  up at some meeting his brother-in-law was hosting, without knowing what it was really about, because he was curious.  Or that he needed his assistant to give him a fake reason to leave.  In fact, ending meetings to go to other conflicting ones is a skill senior executives have to master when they are management toddlers.  It is the sort of thing one might do when needing to bow out of a meeting with people more powerful than you are.

      All in, as EW lays out, what appears to be a one-sided cover story doesn’t hold much water when given even cursory review.


    • Trip says:

      I wondered about that, and initially, it was speculated that J Bush paid for it, so it would have made sense that he might have told the Clinton campaign, after he lost the primary. I don’t recall who they endorsed, but a quick search led me to this in re a debate:

      Kudos to Jeb Bush for differentiating himself from the frontrunner. I don’t care if you disagree with or dislike Jeb: He was the only one on stage who confronted the poll leader directly and made a case for why he, not Trump, should be president. Bush’s performance as a debater, while still somewhat awkward, has undoubtedly improved. He clearly annoyed Trump, and I think scored some real hits. Maybe this debate will help him.

      It’s possible Fusion GPS shopped it around, but it’s also possible whoever the Beacon really supported (who obviously wasn’t Trump at the time) passed on a referral.

  6. Trip says:

    bell says:
    it appears the trump campaign was slow on the uptake here and why would they need to get the email trash on clinton from russia when it was already in the public domain?

    Wikileaks organized, in searchable format, the emails already in the public domain from the Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit. Trump was insinuating nefarious acts would be uncovered if the erased emails (not included in the FOIA dump, nor by Wikileaks) from the private server were published. Hence, the comment, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

    You are confusing all of the emails. Clearly, the released server emails held no smoking guns. The cut outs were promising they had ‘dirt’, not included in the US gov’t FOIA batch.

  7. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Quick note: the “33,000 emails” tweet came from Twitter for iPhone on a day that started and ended with Twitter for Android:

    Parsing out Twitter clients is a messy bit of forensic work, but all the 2016 tweets mentioning Wikileaks also came from an iPhone.

    Parscale was definitely at the Tower on June 8th (he posted a photo in front of the Wall of Photos) and Scavino was presumably working on the campaign floor on the 9th.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Per the Bloomberg pre-election “bunker” story, Parscale was one of the few with credentials to the boss’s account. Pre-written tweets during events like the debates went through the web client, but my guess is that Scavino and Parscale represent most of the ‘Twitter for iPhone’ tweets in 2016 and early 2017. Some of them are RTing Scavino’s personal account, and Caddy Dan is that kinda guy. Parscale has consistently used an iPhone, including the June 8th photo from the Tower.

        Remember that Feinstein is interested in Scavino’s contacts with, er, VKontakte, and that’s before considering Parscale’s data op. Pretty much everything tweeted out during 2016 that relates to the specifics of hacked emails is sent from an iPhone.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          And the intermediary for the VK connection was Goldstone, going back to January 2016. It’s interesting that neither Scavino nor Parscale have apparently been called in for chats with investigators, or if they have, we haven’t heard about it.

          As a direct answer: I don’t think the Android was directly used by anyone other than the boss — germophobe! — though there were reports of him dictating tweets to others in person and getting them to send them out. If you look through that archive site at particular days you get a sense of the different “texture” in the language, which carries through to today: the language of a Scavino tweet inhabits an uncanny valley. I think the setup was that a very small number of people had the credentials and either used the web client or their iPhones.

          What I’m thinking is that if there was indeed an after-meeting about “dirt in the form of emails”, Scavino or Parscale may have been brought into the room. And Goldstone had been put in touch with Scavino earlier that year.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Interesting. Potus supposedly switched from android to iPhone early March 2017.

      And we have also seen an instance where someone else used the twiiter handle.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the meeting were about how to rescind Magnitsky, or to lighten sanctions generally, what egomaniacal candidate would defer to the present administration, which he hoped with every fiber of his being to replace?

    What Russian contingent, representing even more important Russians, would come empty handed to a negotiation where they sought, from the future head of a foreign government, to remove that government’s sanctions restricting the ability of oligarchs to make money?

    The Trump-Russian cover story would have these principals bringing squirt guns to a knife fight.

    • bell says:

      if the meeting was about rescinding  the magnitsky act, it sure hasn’t panned out thanks trump being elected.. in fact, more like the opposite has happened… the sanctions have gone on, non stop in spite of trumps leadership.. on this level, it makes this theory stand on very shaky ground… doing another hi end business deal (on the other hand) makes complete sense… the outrageousness of some usa political leadership potentials having the audacity to consider cutting deals with ruskies must be hard for some to swallow… having to swallow the new cold war mindset makes it even harder to swallow..

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        doing another hi end business deal (on the other hand) makes complete sense

        Oh, 🛎🔚, oh honey.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The sanctions are officially still on thanks to the Congress actually putting the screws on in a bipartisan way and (more or less) shaming the Kaiser into signing it.

        However, the palace has not implemented any of them, which lately has been overlooked while the investigations dominate the news.  Bell, it’s a very large leap of logic to say that the law passage meant that the sanctions regime wasn’t the quid for the pro quo of HRC dirt.  You need to do better.

        • bell says:

          rugger – the  magnitsky act and sanctions are version 2 of the cold war mcarthy era mindset… it kicked in late 2012 around the same time the usa regime change agenda in syria was getting a bumpy reception from russia.. the coup in ukraine 2014 and fall out from that, just meant more of a ramp up.. it is not a leap to suggest the usa has been at war with russia since the early 90’s where the raping and pillaging of the opening up of russia didn’t go off as planned in the halls of harvard…  the usa has become one big sanctions regime in it’s cold war with russia and any other country that it sees fit to sanction…

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Who but Fredo worries about Manhattan traffic when brokering a meeting where the interests of dons representing the US and Russian territories are in play?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s who brokered the meeting.  Don Jr just showed up and had nothing to do, because he was bored.  And Manafort fell asleep.  Uh huh.

      • Avattoir says:

        This is what I reference:
        Perhaps most curious among the first-hand accounts is Goldstone’s claim that he thought the 20-30 minute meeting was “dragging on.”

        He had not even planned to attend, but was encouraged to stay by Trump Jr. His biggest concern, he says, was that if the meeting dragged on, he would be caught in the notorious Lincoln Tunnel traffic on his journey home.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Me too.

        If nothing else did, that would establish Goldstone as an epic bullshitter.  The more outrageous the lie, the better it is to keep it simple.

  10. Charles says:

    Come to think of it, a meeting with that many participants seems like a pretty good way to draw attention to a meeting. Maybe that was the point of it, to make sure that a record of it would be kept. Meanwhile, one of the participants engages in a private information drop, information that they didn’t want to transmit electronically.


    This Marcy lady is maybe pretty smart.


    • John says:

      Why meet in the meat-space at all?  My theory:

      Ike Kaveladze has Kushner in his Iphone contacts list, but his contacts don’t include other Trump people at the meeting.  (As translator, he wasn’t in on the emails, so he wouldn’t appear accidentally.)  Ike opens the AirDrop share application, which makes his phone’s offer to share only visible to Kushner.  Ike transmits the file to Kushner.  Kushner leaves early and delivers the file to Pops, who is waiting upstairs.  Everyone has plausible deniability, even Kushner can say that he didn’t receive any file over the internet or receive a drive, etc., and he left the meeting early after texting his assistant.  Witnesses say Kushner was playing with his phone at the meeting and Kushner wasn’t seated next to Ike. One of many possibilites, but why a meat-space meeting?

  11. Rugger9 says:

    Slightly OT but interesting, drawing on bmaz’s question of conflict for Bannon’s lawyer.  This is how obstruction of an investigation is done and maybe why the hearing dissolved into essentially a free-for-all.  If there is objective proof of this, such as the messages back and forth, Mueller should be able to send several people to jail.

    More OT but something I raised earlier about the Kaiser wanting to start his war to help his ratings. Apparently he thinks so, too (grains, if not boulders of salt may be advised):

    • Avattoir says:

      Gah, don’t hold your breath. The cover is Bannon’s attorney consulting the White House on whether they have any concern with his client responding to this or that question.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Since when is that allowed for a witness that no longer works for the WH and is described as a nobody in whatever phrase that pops into the Kaiser’s mind?

        There is no valid reason to coordinate, certainly not with McGahn calling the shots. Why have a lawyer there otherwise if they aren’t fully briefed?

  12. Rapier says:

    Well at least there aren’t any dead bodies or people disappearing into jail on this side of the ponds. As an erstwhile Trumpphobe and Putinphile there is that to be thankful for in the good old USA.  Players do not get taken out here.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    They do, but like the iconic “disgruntled former employee”, they are usually demonized before being discarded.

  14. Trip says:

    Yesterday, MSM reported how very bipartisan the committee was, with Republicans being equally tough on Bannon as the Democrats were. Here are a few excerpts as reported by Axios.  These highlights come across, to me, as ‘drilling down’ to self-serving narratives:

    Trey Gowdy, who led the Republican questioning, pressed Bannon hard on his description of Don Junior’s Trump Tower meeting as “treasonous.” Gowdy asked Bannon whether he would consider it treason for somebody close to him to approach Wikileaks’ Julian Assange to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Bannon replied that such a scenario would be bad judgment. Then Gowdy produced emails from a Cambridge Analytica employee — the Trump campaign data firm closely affiliated with Bannon — boasting of just such contacts with Assange. Bannon claimed this was the first time he’d seen these emails (though they’ve been in the news.)

    Bannon attacked the Republicans running these congressional committees for choosing to investigate the Trump campaign and Russia. He said it was part of an “establishment” plan to try to “nullify” the election result. Gowdy challenged him on that, asking Bannon who is this establishment you refer to who is trying to nullify Trump’s victory? Bannon answered: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Gowdy countered that Bannon couldn’t have it both ways. Was he also referring to Trump confidant Kevin McCarthy — the leader of the Republican House conference — who is surely part of the same Ryan-McConnell “establishment?”

    Another pointed question to Bannon: When he told author Michael Wolff there was a “zero” percent chance that Don Junior didn’t bring the Russians up to see his father after their meeting, how did he know that happened? I’m told Bannon all but conceded he was purely speculating.

    Throughout the hearing, Bannon kept telling the committee members: “I really want to answer this question,” and “I really wish I could answer these questions.” That became a sore point with members. They kept asking him why he felt liberated to abandon executive privilege and leak prolifically about the White House to journalists and author Wolff, but wouldn’t talk to Congress.

    Bannon walking back the treasonous opinion. Check. Bannon doubling down on the vast conspiracy to delegitimize Trump’s presidency, as cause for investigations. Check. Bannon “conceding” that the Trump Tower meeting being brought directly to Trump by Junior was pure speculation on his part (as if they browbeat him into that point, give me a freakin’ break). Check. Bannon was the real culprit looking to establish links with Assange. Check.

    These are exactly the type of responses they went in hoping to elicit.  They don’t want to get to the bottom of anything, they want to establish Trump as a victim, Bannon as a bloviating pundit with no real insider knowledge, but instead a scorned leaker, responding through his butthurt rejection by Trump. Mission accomplished. Bannon offers himself as a loyal foot soldier fighting ‘the man’. Of course that’s why this was leaked from the closed door testimony.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Nullification”, a very Confederate, Jim Crow dog whistle.  Next thing, Bannon will be hobbling along the corridors wearing a tricorner hat, blowing a flute and saying down with tyranny.  Or bidding at the slave auction.

      If Bannon were truly to lose power and influence, it would be a great thing for America.

      • Trip says:

        Right now, he’s too useful for all of the GOP sides. He’s a fall guy for them and the Mercers if need be. He’s lead propagandist that Trump is as pure as the driven snow, a victim of the establishment, even if somewhat out of his mind. They all intersect, where keeping Trump in power has benefits all around, for now. Bannon ain’t a thang without Trump’s coattails, he has realized.

        Nunes and the GOP are trying to run the clock out, with the theater of the committees, the messaging, while hoping against hope, that they can tag Mueller as corrupt and rid themselves of this before any evidence is revealed to the public.

        How on Earth would Lewandowski have any legitimate claim to executive privilege after he left the campaign, when he never became a member of the executive branch?  What privilege does he hold to pick and choose which questions he ‘feels like’ answering?  Why isn’t he being subpoenaed by the committee?  How is letting this nonsense slide demonstrating a reinvigorated nonpartisan GOP approach to getting to the bottom of this?

          • Trip says:

            Maybe they are simply dragging it out, along with persistent talking points, to hoodwink and maintain voters at least through the midterms: Thinking Mueller won’t have all of the ducks in a row by then.

  15. pseudonymous in nc says:

    OT but slightly interesting for the timeline: the Graun’s interview with Papadopoulos’s girlfriend, which spells out that she didn’t start working for the London Centre For Front Activities until September 2016, which is when G.P. first got in touch with her via LinkedIn, but they didn’t meet in person until March 2017. She only stayed at her job till November, and her last message from Mifsud was in late October saying that he’d been in Moscow.

  16. lefty665 says:

    What if, despite the apparent inclinations of the participants, the tale of the meeting is relatively straight?  The bait of Hillary dirt followed by the switch by Veselnitskaya to Magnitsky and the interests of her employer, Prevazon. After the Trumpies meeting hit the front pages Matt Taibbi, with significant Moscow experience, wrote a piece describing a very similar experience he had with Veselnitskaya . She lured him to a meeting with prospects for a spectacular story and he found himself instead subjected to a Magnitsky pitch when he got there. Bait and switch looks like Veselnitskaya’s MO.

    Junior and Jared are rich kid dumb fucks and suckers for anything that might help Papa. Veselnitskaya was after repealing Magnitsky and recouping Prevazon’s money. The stinker that has so far escaped much attention in this tale is Glenn Simpson and Fusion. He was playing both sides (more than 2 perhaps considering his DOJ connection?) of the street for money, and making a handsome profit for his efforts.

    Sometimes simple is the best explanation, especially when simpletons like Junior and Jared get hooked by a high pressure, bait and switch sales rep. They were marks, and anything she learned about the Trump organization was icing on the cake for her debriefing when she got back to Moscow – the same thing we do with patriotic American business people when they return from interesting places abroad.


    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Sometimes simple is the best explanation

      Weird then how much work Scott Balber is having to put in for such a simple story.

      [Simpson] was playing both sides (more than 2 perhaps considering his DOJ connection?) of the street for money

      I’m not going to defend Simpson’s line of work or choice of clients, but this seems to assume facts not in evidence about what “the street” looked like in mid-2016.

    • greengiant says:

      “But the emails”  Still waiting for anything but a lie from Still waiting for 6,000 voters bused into New Hampshire.  Still waiting for 3 million illegal voters. Still waiting for 650,000 emails on Weiner’s laptop. Still waiting for Hillary to be indicted this week. Does not mean I believe one word in the dossier. Does not mean I hate Clinton and the DNC one bit less that lefty does.  Does not mean I hate military/intelligence corruption one bit less than lefty does. Systems and cultures can degrade spectacularly when they lose their values. Check out theIntercept article on the Seals, the history of incorporation of accounting and investment banking firms.  To link it back together, it would be a great day if the Navy can hold those responsible in the procurement chain to the same standards they are pursuing in the fleet for the destroyer wrecks.

      • lefty665 says:

        One small quibble, I try not to hate, especially when it’s personalized. Disgust with behaviors is another story, got plenty of that for both Hillary and Trump. Between them they pretty much cover the disgusting waterfront.

        I certainly agree it is wonderful the Navy (yours and mine as much as anyone elses) is charging officers with homicide over valuing their membership in the club. Same goes for the broad net they seem to be casting with Fat Leonard. Those charges are unique occurrences. They may have something to do with having a Marine as Sec Def.  His enlistment papers may have said “Navy”, but he’s cut from a different piece of cloth.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sometimes a popular journalist is just a journalist, and a billionaire GOP candidate for president is just a harp that might turn into a golden lyre for the Kremlin.

    • lefty665 says:

      Lyre sure has it right. I’m not defending any of these guys, or the they did not have bad intent. Just suggesting that in some cases as Groucho oberved “A cigar is just a cigar”.

      All I was suggesting about Taibbi was that he was not a naif about Russia like Junior and Jared. Presumably Manafort knew better too.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I take your point.  I think even Trump’s progeny, limited as they are, would have ended the meeting in a heart beat if it were truly about adoptions and ending sanctions in general.

        Neither the Russians nor the Trumpistas would have gone into such a meeting at that point in the calendar without expecting and being willing to offer great things.  Had things gone pear-shaped, as they have, the potential fallout would have been Cold Warish.

        • lefty665 says:

          And I yours.

          Consider if you would, Jared apparently arranged an excuse to skip out after about 10 minutes and Manafort reportedly took a nap. Those actions are consistent with figuring out the meeting wasn’t about political dirt on Hillary, as Junior had flacked it, and disengaging. Manafort may have felt the obligation not to leave Junior on his own, either out of fear of Daddy, or what idiocy Junior was capable of if left unattended.

          I’m not suggesting Junior was not trying to get dirt on Hillary from the Russians, his emails clearly demonstrate he was. It seems possible he was set up as a chump by Veselnitskaya who proceeded to execute her own agenda which was Magnitsky.  That would also debunk Bannon’s wager that Junior walked them upstairs to see Daddy. Manafort would have woken up to spike that if Junior had not eventually twigged to the idea he’d been had.

          How’s the old saying go? It’s something like “Don’t attribute to malevolence what can be explained by stupidity.”  Maybe laughing at the bozos incompetence would be an appropriate reaction. With any luck Jared and Manafort ragged the shit out of him about it… “Hey Junior where’s all that Russian dirt on Hillary you promised?” or “Hey Junior how do you pronounce your new girl friend’s name?” or “Hey Junior, got any more meetings you want be to go to, don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

  18. Rugger9 says:

    A couple of interesting stories out today, one regarding the NRA being the bag men for Russian election interference money (it’s still a crime to do that) and the other a reminder just how much trouble the Kaiser is in. noting here that some of these might flip on the palace.

    And, as a bonus, noting that if campaign funds were used,it could be a criminal matter:

    • Trip says:

      Yep, makes you wonder if Manafort’s phone notes: the RNC, and Illici (Elche, Spain?) and donations are a reference to money filtered from the Russian mob in Spain, to the NRA, then to the RNC and finally to Trump’s campaign.

  19. Silence Hand says:

    Listening to the Intercepted bit, holy crap, can Jeremy PLEASE just stop talking about the dossier?  Marcy clearly slapped down the dossier quite a few times, including focusing on the more interesting question of money laundering, and he can’t get away from it.

    Ugh.  That discussion was pretty unsatisfying, given how great it could have been.  Marcy got it back to the actually important stuff right at the end, but just barely.



  20. Rugger9 says:

    Making the whole contretemps all about the dossier is really the only hope the GOP has of minimizing the damage.  If any of the conspiracy to commit criminal activity stuff like the LLC link I noted above gets more traction the whole party goes down.  In its current form, good riddance.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Best place to be if you have an Interpol red notice hanging over your head must be the White House.  (In Gorka’s case, a national warrant easily enforceable across the EU.)

    Says a lot about Trump’s brilliant vetting process – or the complete lack of it.  Gun charges no less.  What was the Secret Service thinking? A good topic for a congressional hearing.

    • lefty665 says:

      Seems the SS has been mostly thinking about partying and getting laid on presidential trips or being out on the town in D.C. drinking.  Zero vetting, none, zippo. Pretty amazing isn’t it? They’ve been through 4 or 5 directors in the last several years too. The transition to DHS did not go well for them, nor have budget cuts and increased duties. Worse yet they missed out on the opportunity to be on Bill’s detail cruising for coeds in Georgetown.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The transition to the DHS hasn’t gone well for anybody, especially unions.  But then, that was the point.

      • lefty665 says:

        Indeed, and as if Gov’t unions were not in sad enough shape before that. Adding another layer of bureaucracy has not shown any signs of increasing our homeland’s security either. Funny how that usage of “Homeland” always makes me think of Fascist Germany.

  22. uncle tungsten says:

    Good try but maintaining the pretense of ‘DNC hacking’ is problematic. There is ample evidence by credible people that the DNC files were leaked! that is not ‘hacked’. This was assessed by forensic examination of the file transfer timing. There is also the question reported by forensic analysts about the fortuitous appearance of Gucciffer 2 simultaneously. Perhaps it would be wise to frame reference to both the DNC and Podesta material as ‘either leaked or hacked’. The ‘hacked’ line of course is convenient for perpetuating the ‘Russia did it mythology’ but by now it is clear that Crowdstrike are rank amateurs and not fit for purpose (unless you need a cover for a bait and switch story).

    This is truly a sideshow to the issue of the storage of SoS email and communications records on an unsecured server at an unsecured site with staff further dropping file copies stored on their portable devices at various unsecured sites (homes) on unsecured devices. This has to be the greatest willful exposure of US national security information and open breach of the USA national security known to date. That was always ‘the dirt on Hillary’ and no blizzard of distractions was ever going to blow it away. Trump had the dirt all along and it didn’t take one Russian to hand it to him.

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