The Holes in Ike Kaveladze’s Trump Tower Meeting Story

One of the things the HPSCI narrative about the Trump Tower makes clear is that the story of Ike Kaveladze, the Agalarov representative whose presence at the meeting is unexplained (indeed, the majority HPSCI report makes no effort to explain it, while the minority explicitly says he was representing the Agalarovs), doesn’t make sense.

The narrative starts by explaining that Kaveladze knew the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act going in, but for some inexplicable reason thought it would be weird to lobby politicians about a desired policy, and so only after learning that it was about the Magnitsky Act, also learned it was about dealing “dirt” on Hillary to the campaign.

The Committee discovered that the participants.of the June 9 meeting did not all have the same understanding as to the reasons for the meeting, with [Kaveladze] testifying that he thought it was odd that all three senior Trump campaign officials would be taking a meeting on the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. human rights law that imposes certain sanctions on Russian interests. Accordingly, [Kaveladze] called [Roman Beniaminov], a close associate of Emin Agalarov based in the United States, to inquire about the purpose

Based on this discussion, the lunch attendees believed the Trump Tower meeting was about the Magnitsky Act. of the meeting. [Beniaminov] explained that he believed the scheduled meeting at Trump Tower was about providing negative information on candidate Clinton to the Trump campaign.

While HPSCI doesn’t acknowledge it, this means Kaveladze (and, by association, Rob Goldstone) knew both sides of a quid pro quo before the meeting: dirt on Hillary in exchange for Magnitsky relief.

But then, having made the effort to learn the meeting was about dealing dirt, Kaveladze somehow became convinced again it was (only) about the Magnitsky Act during lunch right before the meeting (note, the report doesn’t address some oddities about the communication between Veselnitskaya and Kaveladze that I mention here).

Based on this discussion, the lunch attendees believed the Trump Tower meeting was about the Magnitsky Act.

After the meeting Kaveladze spoke to Aras Agalarov twice (once immediately after the meeting, per the minority report); HPSCI’s understanding of those calls, in which he claims the meeting was a waste of time, came from Kaveladze’s interview. Kaveladze claims that the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton did not come up in the discussion with Agalarov.

Kaveladze testified that he received two calls from Aras Agalarov after the meeting. During the second call, Kaveladze explained that the meeting was a “complete loss of time and about nothing.” Aras Agalarov and Kaveladze did not discuss the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Except the “dirt” on Hillary is the only thing that came up in an email to his daughter about the meeting sent (curiously) on June 14.

Kaveladze also sent an email to his daughter after the meeting indicating that the “meeting was boring. The Russians did not have any bad info [o]n Hillary.” — a reference back to his conversation with Beniaminov, which he had apparently relayed to his daughter.

All of which is to say that a US-based witness HPSCI refused to call (Beniaminov) and the contemporary documentary evidence show that Kaveladze believed the meeting was about dealing dirt. But in Kaveladze’s testimony — at least according to the HPSCI retelling — he somehow got dissuaded the meeting was about dirt by a lunch meeting right beforehand, but then reconvinced it was about dirt in an email sent to his daughter on the day the Washington Post reported that Russia had hacked the DNC.

Yes, it’s true that his contemporaneous account also makes it clear the dirt was not spelled out.

The date of the email, June 14, is particularly interesting though.

As the minority report reminds, on that same day, Goldstone (the other guy who knew the meeting was about dirt and Magnitsky) sent Kaveladze an email connecting the emails with the meeting.

When news broke five days after this meeting that Russians were behind the hacked DNC emails, Rob Goldstone sent a news article to Emin Agalarov and Ike Kaveladze, “Top story right now – seems eerily weird based on our Trump meeting last week with the Russian lawyers etc”.

It’s unclear which email came first, the Goldstone one tying the Russian hack to the Trump Tower meeting offering dirt, or the Kaveladze one telling his daughter the Russians didn’t have any bad info on Hillary. The Goldstone one bears the Bates stamp HIC-KAV-00001 to 00002 while the one to Kaveladze’s daughter is Bates stamped HIC-KAV-00020, suggesting it may be later in the day (though that is in no way definitive). Given that he appears not to have been asked about this, I’m also interested in the date Kaveladze provided these emails to the committee. The story about Goldstone’s email leaked on December 7, over a month after Kaveladze’s interview, so it may be he avoided answering questions about it by providing it after the fact.

Ultimately, though, it appears that both Goldstone and Kaveladze knew the meeting involved both dirt and Magnitsky sanctions.

The majority report avoids dealing with the possibility that the dirt might be the Guccifer 2.0 emails in two ways.  First, it makes no mention of Trump’s tweet, released almost immediately after the meeting, calling for Hillary’s emails and mentioning an “in the ball park” accurate number for Hillary’s staff. And in treating the silence in the meeting about email as dirt (which, remember, had already been floated to the campaign a month and a half earlier), it oddly doesn’t mention the most obvious possibility, that non-Podesta emails came up.

The Committee received no testimony or documentary evidence indicating that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss Wikileaks, Julian Assange, the hacking of the DNC servers, and/or the John Podesta emails.

Given that this claim is sourced to Goldstone’s interview, and given that his interview definitely post-dated the time the committee received the Goldstone to Kaveladze email tying the meeting to the hack of the DNC, it seems an explicit dodge of the fact that Goldstone himself made the connection almost immediately after learning of the DNC hack.

20 replies
  1. Bob Conyers says:

    Unfortunately, I think it’s having the desired effect. Today’s AP story pretty much rehashes the GOP story of no collusion, reports Trump’s tweet, makes a brief note of Democratic disagreement and paints it as a one side says/another side says. My local Tronc paper ran it and I assume a thousand other outlets picked it up as the sole coverage.

    This is basically the same approach taken by NPR’s Phillip Ewing, both in his top level reporting and in his more extensive followup. It’s as attenuated as an article on a new CDC report on revised protocols for disinfecting hospital door knobs

    It’s disheartening that over a year into this and reporters still are treating each element in isolation as if it were unbound by the House Intelligence Committee’s complete incompetence and dishonesty.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      NPR has become the premier example supporting Herman and Chomsky’s characterization of the press in, Manufacturing Consent.

  2. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The snippet in the minority views about the Russian delegation retiring to the bar afterwards (plus “Kaveladze left the bar after a few minutes to take a call from [Aras] Agalarov to discuss the meeting”) is… hmm.

  3. Avattoir says:

    1. At 0213 hours officer Nunes entered the home & almost immediately came upon a large muscular male U/k MALE A, dressed head to toe in dark-colored tightly fitting clothing, including a dark-colored ski mask, holding in his right hand a knife that had something that appeared it might be blood dripping off it.

    2. Officer Nunes noted MALE A appeared to be standing, in what some might characterize as a menacing manner (Lighting was too poor to be certain.), over the prone body of a second person, dressed in what appeared to be pajamas, who at some time subsequent, Officer Nunes determined to likely be co-resident of the home, but then was U’k MALE B, at that point in time lying on the floor, face down, and, between audible groans, saying something that what sounded vaguely like, ‘I’m dying here, this guy stabbed me, please help’, as several what might possibly be inferred as fresh stab wounds, located at multiple points along the back of his upper torso, appeared to be exuding a red fluid.

    3. Officer Nunes thereupon addressed both MALE A and MALE B: ‘Okay, what’s going on here?’

    a) Male B did not respond helpfully, but instead insisted on resuming his groaning and softly spoken words which might possibly have included: “Help me, for god’s sake, I’m dying here.”

    b) MALE A responded clearly in a sober, civil manner in words apparently directed to Officer Nunes: “Nothing. I was just passing through. Gosh, look at the time; I have to be going.”

    4. Officer Nunes responded to MALE A as follows: “Okey dokey, that’s fine then. Just try not to step in any of any of this red fluid as you leave”; whereupon MALE A exited without incident.

    5. As indicated (See Item #2 above.) U/k MALE B was later identified as the joint legal owner of the home. Identity was established on a preliminary basis with the assistance of the other joint legal owner of the home, claiming to be MALE B’s wife, who did so with some difficulty, between hysterical screams and audible weeping. Officer Nunes assessed that such reaction was not inconsistent with her having observed the condition of MALE B.

    6. There being no known suspects, Officer Nunes filed his close-out report, AOT recommending possible referral to the GIU to look into motives for suicide and/or some domestic encounter.

    • Trip says:

      I almost want to compare him to Clouseau, but can’t because Clouseau eventually solved the cases (via serendipity) and his character was endearing. Nunes, on the other hand, is a dingleberry.

  4. SteveB says:

    Thanks EW once more for digging into the oddities of this meeting.
    Re-reading the earlier posts you link to reminds me that
    Veselnitskaya describes Aras Agalarov as “my acquaintance, my client” . Her denials of any profound connections to the chief prosecutor Chaika, are now completely undone by the recent reporting on the Maddow show which pins her deep connection and acts on behalf of Chiaka to 2014.
    A Agalarov publicly defended Chaika and his family from Navalny’s expose in 2015.(see 11 july 2017)
    It seems that Chaika had a few potential proxies in Trump Tower that day.

    [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

    • Rugger9 says:

      That’s my thinking as well, since we know Natalia was an agent but Vlad wanted a minder (or perhaps another oligarch) to be sure the topics remained on track and/or to communicate a separate message (since IIRC there was a smaller leftover meeting after the “main” one).  The most useful evidence about the discussions is what happened afterward between the Trump campaign and the rest of the GOP (who also used the hacked info, this is why they are trying desperately to ignore details).  Cui bono – who profits?

      Ike’s presence has no other real purpose.

  5. Robert says:

    It is inconceivable that the top people in the Trump campaign would make the time available to discuss an issue of zero importance to the election campaign. This would be obvious to Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin and anyone else who was involved – nobody would expect any positive result from wasting the time of people who surely have no end of important matters to deal with. The logical conclusion is that there would have had to have been something to offer that would be of significant benefit to the Trump campaign.

    • NJrun says:

      Exactly. Someone needs to explain why, of all the things to worry about during a US presidential campaign, the Trump team was so focused on the fate of Russian orphans. From a campaign whose slogan was America First?

      They don’t care about US children. Ludicrous.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Indeed.  No one on either side of this June 9th conversation engaged in it so shortly before the election for shits and giggles.  These were the top representatives of Donald Trump and senior cut-out figures working for Vladimir Putin.

    This meeting was a strategy and bargaining session.  Naturally, no goods were exchanged on site.  Located a short walk from the Don’s offices in the same building, that would have been both incriminating and unnecessary.  Performance would have been delegated and later in time.

  7. RWood says:

    Some of these attendees were already under investigation months before the meeting took place.

    I find myself asking not who was there, but rather whose phone was there? Its been reported that Trump Jr and others, including the Russians in attendance, used their phones both during and after the meeting.

    This may sound a bit conspiracy-ish, but is it possible Mueller has a transcription of the whole meeting?

    • bmaz says:

      Huh. That is a new one, and weird.  Honestly, I have no idea, but will forward to the folks that might. Have you gotten that more than one I take it?

    • orionATL says:

      “…Veselnitskaya had previously described herself as a private, independent attorney, not a Russian operative. But she told NBC: “I am a lawyer, and I am an informant.” She added that she had been “actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general” since 2013. The prosecutor general is top Kremlin official Yuri Chaika.

      A trove of Veselnitskaya’s emails obtained by NBC and The New York Times show that she worked closely with the Kremlin’s prosecutor general’s office to thwart a 2014 U.S. Justice Department request for records concerning Prevezon Holdings Ltd., a well-connected Russian real estate company that was accused of a money laundering scheme in New York.

      The NBC interview was the first time Veselnitskaya has publicly described herself in the American media as an informant. But it’s widely known that she has represented several Kremlin interests in her work. The FSB, Russia’s successor to the Soviet-era KGB, was a longtime client of hers, Reuters has reported. Vladimir Putin headed the FSB before he became Russia’s president…”

      normally the “private soldiers” the kremlin uses to conduct its business these days keep very quiet,

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Re: this HTML class. Value is

      Are you doing this with a Samsung Android phone using the stock browser?

      Try installing Chrome or Firefox.

      Betcha the problem goes away.

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