On June 9, 2016, a meeting took place at Trump Tower. The participants in the meeting were Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Robert Goldstone, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, Anatoli Samochornov, and Rinat Akhmetshin. With the exception of Natalia Veselnitskaya, all the participants were American citizens. To understand what took place, you need to know each of the players and why they were at the meeting.
All of the following information about the meeting and its participants is derived from their testimony before Congress, which you may review if you like.
Anatoli Samochornov is a professional translator who was born in Russia and now lives in New York. He has a Masters in Linguistics and Interpreting and a Masters in Business Administration. He has provided his services to John Kerry, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, President Obama and hundreds of CEOs and attorneys. He became an American citizen in 2002. He was hired by Natalia Veselnitskaya for her trip to New York in June and participated in a number of meetings with her, including meetings with lawyers from Baker Hostetler, representatives of Fusion GPS (including Bruce Simpson) and the Trump Tower meeting.
Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze is an American businessman living in California and specializing in accounting and finance. He was born in Georgia and moved to America in 1991. He became an American citizen in 2001. He is a Senior Vice President of Crocus Group and reports directly to Emin Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Russian businessman. Emin is a Russian entertainer with aspirations to perform in America. Ike attended the meeting on behalf of Aras, whose son had requested the meeting.
Rinat Akhmetshin is an American lobbyist and consultant living in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry. He was born in Russia and emigrated to America in 1994. He became a US citizen in 2009. He has represented the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. He has never represented the Russian Federation. He served in the Russia military in a support unit for an intelligence company. He never served as an intelligence agent, either for the Soviet Army or for the Soviet intelligence services. (This will become important later.)
He was hired in 2015 by the law firm Baker Hostetler that represented Prevezon Holdings in a civil forfeiture case in the Southern District of New York. He was retained to review Russian documents and video depositions regarding the activities of Willam Browder, about whom you will learn much later. He also worked as a consultant and lobbyist for the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative, a human rights organization founded by Denis Katsyv, the principal owner of Prevezon Holdings. In that capacity, he informed Congress of the multitude of inaccuracies he had found in William Browder’s testimony and documentation. He also informed both Katsyv and Veselnitskaya of the fraudulent nature of Browder’s documentation and testimony presented to Congress.
He went to lunch with Veselntiskaya, Kaveladze, and Samochornov on June 9th, and Veselnitskaya mentioned that she had a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. She asked him if he’d like to go along, and he agreed to go with them. The Times wrote a lengthy article about him, but keep in mind their bias when reading it.
Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian citizen and private attorney representing Denis Katsyv and Prevezon Holdings as co-counsel in the civil forfeiture case mentioned above. In her capacity as co-counsel, she had occasion to interact with Bruce Simpson of Fusion GPS and Rinat Akmetshin, both of whom were retained by Baker Hostetler to conduct research on William Browder. The case against Prevezon was initiated by the Southern District of New York at the insistence of William Browder who convinced the DoJ that Prevezon Holdings had stolen money from him.
Like many US attorneys, Veselnitskaya began her career as an assistant DA before entering private practice. She has no connections with the Russian government or Russian intelligence services other than her interactions with Russian officials in the course of her legal work. She had asked for the meeting by approaching Aras Agalarov who then contacted his son Emin. Emin then asked his promoter, Bob Goldstone, to approach the Trumps with the information.
Here’s how the approach occurred. Emin Agalarov, Bob Goldstone’s client, called him to request a meeting with the Trumps.
“I received a call from Emin that morning, and he asked me if I could contact the Trumps with something interesting and said that a well-connected Russian attorney had met with his father that morning in his father’s office and had told him that they had some interesting information that could potentially be damaging regarding funding by Russians to the Democrats and to its candidate, Hillary Clinton.”
Goldstone independently decided to approach Donald Trump Jr. about the meeting. He sent Trump an email that grossly inflated what he had been told by Emin. This is the email:
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 Emln.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it Is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Trump Jr. responded with the following:
“Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”
Trump Jr.’s response is entirely predictable. He thinks he’s getting information that could be damaging to Hillary. What politician on the face of the earth would turn something like that down? But he was skeptical, so he didn’t tell anyone else about what he thought the content of the meeting would be.
So, at about 4 PM on June 9, the four “Russians”, three of whom were US citizens and longtime residents of the US, attended a meeting in Trump Tower. Kaveladze knew what Aras had told him – there would be damaging information about Clinton and the DNC. Akmetshin did not know what the meeting was about. Samochornov merely knew that he was to act as Veselnitskaya’s translator. Veselnitskaya brought a twelve-page document with her and was prepared to discuss William Browder’s tax and investment fraud, the Magnitsky Act, and the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Veselnitskaya used her knowledge of Bill Browder’s activities as a “hook” to get the meeting. That was the damaging information that she told Aras that she had.
The damaging information was the fact that the Ziff brothers, billionaire Clinton donors, were involved in Browder’s tax and investment frauds.
Goldstone attended the meeting because he was the one who initiated it. Kusher and Manafort attended because Trump Jr. invited them. Neither knew what the meeting was about before it began.
“While Rob said he would send me the names of the attendees for the June 9th meeting, he never did. As a result, I had no advance knowledge of who would attend. I told Rob that Jared Kushner and our newly hired campaign manager Paul Manafort would likely also attend. I then asked Jared and Paul if they could attend, but told them none of the substance or who was going to be there since I did not know myself. Because we were in the same building Paul, Jared, and I would routinely invite one another to attend meetings at a moment’s notice.”
Now that you know the players, let’s see what the media has reported about them.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting, worked with government officials, report says This misleading headline is on a story that merely repeats information already known by investigators.
“The emails the Dossier organization said it was sent suggest Natalia Veselnitskaya worked closely with a top official in Russia’s prosecutor-general’s office to fend off a U.S. fraud case against one of her clients.”
It is already known that Veselnitskaya’s client, Denis Katsyv, was being extorted. Veselnitskaya worked with Russian officials to bring to justice the extortionists.
Lawyer Who Met With Donald Trump Jr. Has Ties To Russian Government This misleading headline is in a story that says she works as a lawyer. The deceptive use of the word “advocating” is another word for a history of representing clients, which is what any lawyer making money does. How many American lawyers could we say the exact same thing about?
“Veselnitskaya has a history of advocating for the Russian government. Her clients include “state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son,” reports the New York Times.
She also was married to a former deputy transportation minister in the Moscow region.”
Who is Natalia Veselnitskaya? low-level attorney or Kremlin power broker? This article is at least somewhat honest although still misleading.
“The truth may end up being a blurry combination of both. Veselnitskaya is no Kremlin power broker, having spent most of her career working on business disputes in the courtrooms of the Moscow region, a province that surrounds but does not include the city itself.
Nevertheless, in recent years she had taken on a high-profile case that aligned with Kremlin objectives and was followed closely by top officials. A source who knows her also told the Guardian she has a long-standing personal connection with Yuri Chaika, Russia’s powerful prosecutor-general.”
The high-profile case? USA v. Prevezon. Why is it aligned with Kremlin objectives? Because if Bill Browder’s fraud is exposed, it’s possible the Magnitsky Act could be overturned, an outcome that the Kremlin would applaud openly. The fact that Veselnitskaya’s interest in representing her client happens to align with the Kremlin’s desires is not proof of collaboration between the two. Nor is it proof of a close relationship. Her personal connection with Uri Chaika is the same as many US attorney’s connections to well-known prosectors or jurists. Would we accuse any of them of being in cahoots with the government as a result? The smear is obvious and the reason for it even more obvious.
Veselnitskaya is most often referred to in the media as “Kremlin-linked attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya”.
Ex-Soviet counter-intelligence officer says he attended Trump Jr. meeting This is the worst kind of “reporting” imaginable. First, Anatoli was never an officer. Second, he never worked in intelligence. He was assigned to a support unit that was assigned to an intelligence company. Although his testimony doesn’t specify, it’s not hard to figure out what he may have been doing. Support units provide security so the intel guys can do their work. The intel guys don’t share what they learn with the support unit.
The Russians at the Trump Tower meeting I especially like this one. It’s a perfect example of how the media can twist facts into knots and make them appear to mean something entirely different
“The group of Soviet-born individuals that top Trump campaign officials met last summer include a cast of characters accused of tactics that read like a Cold War spy novel — including allegations of secret lobbying campaigns and links to money laundering investigations and counterintelligence.”
“Soviet-born individuals” – works better than American citizens when you’re trying to imply something nefarious. “Cast of characters” evokes images of shady characters. “Cold War spy novel” implies that this was an intelligence operation run by Russia to hurt the US. “Allegations of secret lobbying campaigns” – IOW, unproven, but hey, they’re Russians, so it has to be nefarious, right? “links to money laundering investigations”? Yes, Veselnitskaya is co-counsel for Prevezon, which was accused of money laundering by Bill Browder. “and [links to] counterintelligence”. Yeah, Rinat was a sergeant in a support unit, but hey, they were located in the same place, so links, right? This paragraph is so pregnant with innuendo that it’s ready for delivery.
So what are the facts? Veselnitskaya is a private lawyer representing her client, Denis Katsyv, and his company, Prevezon Holdings, in an asset forfeiture case. During the course of the litigation, she discovered, through the work of Fusion GPS and Rinat Akmetshin, that Bill Browder had defrauded the Russian government, lied to the US Congress (and the press) and convinced them to pass the Magnitsky Act, which led to Russia banning adoptions to US parents. Browder then went to the DoJ lawyers and convinced them that Prevezon was laundering money that they had stolen from him, by purchasing properties in the US. The DoJ, without investigating further, took Browder’s word and opened a case against Prevezon.
When Veselnitskaya learned this, she became angry. She began contacting anyone who would listen, asking them to please look into Browder’s lies. She talked to the co-counsels at Baker Hostetler. She talked to the DoJ lawyers that were prosecuting her client. She spoke to Congressmen and their staff. And she spoke to Donald Trump Jr. In each case, she passed along the information she had gotten from Fusion GPS and Akmetshin and asked them to investigate. She hoped that, when the facts became known, not only would her client’s case be vacated but the Magnitsky Act, which was born in fraud, would be overturned.
Thousands of words have been written about this case. Many of them are either false or misleading. Here’s the reality. The meeting was about the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions. The info on the Ziff brothers was shared in passing, but hardly anyone remembers it. What follows is the summary of the meeting by the participants.
Donald Trump Jr.
“As it later turned out, my skepticism was justified. The meeting provided no meaningful information and turned out to be not about what was represented. The meeting was instead primarily focused on Russian adoptions , which is exactly what I said over a year later in my statement of July 8, 2017.”
I said to him, Don, I really want to apologize. This was hugely embarrassing. I have no idea what this meeting was actually about.
I arrived at the meeting a Iittle 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.
Paul Manafort declined to provide a statement regarding the meeting but provided his notes
Bill browder Offshore – Cyprus
Not invest – loan
Value in Cyprus as inter Illici
Active sponsors of RNC
Browder hired Joanna Glover
Tied into Cheney
Russian adoption by American families
Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze
“A. She asked me a few days later, she asked me how was meeting, and I responded.
Q. Do you recall what you said?
A. I said the meeting was boring and there was no negative information about — and they got nothing on Hillary.”
“Q. Do you remember any specific discussion about the Russian ban on U.S. adoption of Russian children?
A. That was what was the general topic that Akhmetshin talked about .
Q. Did anyone ask that Donald Trump, Sr.,take any action regarding the Magnitsky Act or theGlobal Magnitsky Act if elected?
“Q. And do you recall what you said to them?
A. I said like, you know, I — you know, guess what? Something funny. I was in a meeting and It was like such bullshit, and that kind of — but — and they said, “Can we write about this?” Of course, journalists are always interested. I said, “Absolutely not. It’s not my secret, and you cannot write about this.”
“All my conversations regarding the Magnitsky Act revolved solely around the fact that in 2012, under the pretense of normalizing the trade relations with Russia, dictated by a group of self-serving profiteers, an act was passed that was based on a mendacious story that has been used to incite hatred between our countries, undermine social and mental relations, including the introduction of an adoption ban, and to manipulate public opinion and politicians.”
“I do not remember that I referenced anything but the Magnitsky Act (USA), the law banning adoptions (Russia) and the sentence on Browder (and then possibly by mentioning that he was “sentenced for tax fraud”), however, neither the mentioned documents nor any of the thousands of pages I used as evidence in my investigation did I bring with me to the meeting as there was no need in bringing them. It is my understanding that this meeting should have been of a referencing nature where I would have been referred to people of my interest, i.e. Congressmen or Senators interested in legal integrity in adopting laws in the USA and conducting investigation of the situation where, the USA, without doing any due diligence on 1) the data provided by Mr. Browder who had been under criminal investigation for 12 years by that time and 2) disseminated by his registered and not registered lobbyists and 3) the motives of submission of such data, adopted a public law that in my opinion initiated the beginning of the end of normal allied relations between our countries, their citizens, the negative consequences of which for each of us are difficult to overestimate.”
“b) Did you or anyone at the meeting mention the Magnitsky Act? If so, what was the discussion?
Yes, I did mention it within the context of what is said in Paragraph “a”. I also said that no one had ever conducted an investigation into the circumstances in question prior to adopting said act. There had never been any conclusions made by independent professional experts, nor had there been any open debates involving people who could have taken professional part in such a discussion as opposed to the monologues recorded by Browder’s employees and disseminated among the congressional representatives in advance. I cannot even imagine the faces and thoughts of the respected Congressmen if they heard and saw the documents proving that everything that has been said on Capitol Hill on Browder’s initiative over the past six years is a monstrous lie that has led to the adoption of such an act that has resulted in a cold war, discord, hatred, disruption of economic and social relations, including the adoptions ban.”
“2. All communications to, from, or copied to you, to, from or related to any Trump campaign officials or family members.
Not available and have never been available.
3. All documents concerning the Russian influence campaign in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Not available and have never been available. Nor do I know anyone who would be in possession of such documents or knew about something ike that.
4. All documents concerning the hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), John Podesta, Hillary Clinton, or the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Not available and have never been available.
5. Please provide all documents related to Fusion GPS or Christopher Steele.
Not available and have never been available.
I do not know Christopher Steele. I first heard of him from US media.”
I’ll leave it to my readers to decide if the Trump Tower meeting has been misrepresented by the media and Democrat politicians for the past year.
UPDATE: This article clarifies an issue that has made the rounds on social media. The charge is that since Loretta Lynch had to approve a visa for Veselnitskaya at the last possible minute, it’s obvious that the meeting was a setup. However, as this article points out, the request for the visa was made by the Justice Department in conjunction with the Prevezon case, and not for some nearious purpose.
Homeland told The Hill that Veselnitskaya was allowed to enter the United States on multiple occasions between September 2015 and February 2016 under a “Significant Public Benefit Parole” document requested by the Justice Department so she could participate in a court case for a client.
The request was done “in concurrence” with the U.S. attorney’s office in New York City, which was enforcing a civil asset forfeiture case against Prevezon Holdings, a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, whom Veselnitskaya represented as a private attorney in their home country.
Katsyv is one of three Moscow businessmen connected to a lobbying campaign against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law punishing Russia for human rights violations. The lobbying campaign was spearheaded in Washington by Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who was revealed on Friday to have been in an election-year meeting with Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr.
Homeland’s statement confirmed court testimony and records cited by The Hill on Wednesday that Veselnitskaya was initially turned down for a visa to enter the United States and required the special immigration parole permission as late as January 2016. The court records did not indicate how she entered the country after that time.
A federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan told the court in a hearing in January 2016 that the “extraordinary circumstances” parole request needed to be approved by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.