The media has gone nuts over the last couple days in regards to a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manfort and a Russian lawyer called Natalia Veselnitskaya. This reason for the uproar was that the premise of the meeting was the delivery of information by Veselnitskaya to the Trump team which incriminated Hillary Clinton in illegal activities with Russia. Don Jr. was initially approached with the idea by an acquaintance of his, Rob Goldstone, who set the meeting up. I go into the meeting in painstaking detail here.
The media has held this meeting up as a smoking gun for the Russian Collusion Theory which they have propagated for nigh on a year now. At the very least, they claim, it shows that the Trump campaign was willing to collude with Russia in order to influence the election.
This is wrong on two counts:
- The Collusion Theory alleges that Vladamir Putin himself ordered the hacking of the emails of John Podesta and the DNC in order to be disseminated by Wikileaks. This is the basis of the ‘influencing the election’ charge. The actual substance of the Don Jr. meeting had nothing to do with email hacking, or any other offer of assistance from Natalia Veselnitskaya but rather a poor attempt to lobby for the removal of the Magnitsky Act.
- What the meeting showed was that the Trump campaign was willing to receive dirt on a campaign opponent. If that constitutes ‘influencing an election,’ then every election in the history of mankind has been nefariously influenced in some manner.
In the few days since this story blew up, the Weaponized Autists at /pol, r/The_Donald, and elsewhere, forming a Meme Team of ardent Internet Trump support, begun digging into the official story as they always do, and found some interesting details.
First, Natalia Veselnitskaya was let into the country without a visa by the Department of Justice, which of course was headed by Loretta Lynch at the time. From The Hill:
The Russian lawyer who penetrated Donald Trump’s inner circle was initially cleared into the United States by the Justice Department under “extraordinary circumstances” before she embarked on a lobbying campaign last year that ensnared the president’s eldest son, members of Congress, journalists and State Department officials, according to court and Justice Department documents and interviews.
This revelation means it was the Obama Justice Department that enabled the newest and most intriguing figure in the Russia-Trump investigation to enter the country without a visa.
in an interview with NBC News earlier this week, Veselnitskaya acknowledged her contacts with Trump Jr. and in Washington were part of a lobbying campaign to get members of Congress and American political figures to see “the real circumstances behind the Magnitsky Act.”
That work was a far cry from the narrow reason the U.S. government initially gave for allowing Veselnitskaya into the U.S. in late 2015, according to federal court records.
The Moscow lawyer had been turned down for a visa to enter the U.S. lawfully but then was granted special immigration parole by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the limited purpose of helping a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, her client, defend itself against a Justice Department asset forfeiture case in federal court in New York City.
During a court hearing in early January 2016, as Veselnitskaya’s permission to stay in the country was about to expire, federal prosecutors described how rare the grant of parole immigration was as Veselnitskaya pleaded for more time to remain in the United States.
So she did have legitimate business, as she was representing a client in a case in New York City. However, in the last few days, we’ve been told that Veselnitskaya is this nefarious AGENT OF THE KREMLIN, so it strikes me that the DOJ would have been a bit more concerned about letting such a character into the country with no visa, especially in a manner that was seemingly very rare.
Anyhow, five days after the meeting, Veselnitskaya was pictured at a Congressional hearing on Russia policy. Not in the cheap seats at the back of the room, but up front and center right behind US ambassador to Russia at the time, Michael McFaul. In fact the Washington Post, a prominent Collusion pusher, used an image of her at the hearing as the featured image to its story about her general efforts to lobby against the Magnitsky Act.
What this establishes is that this AGENT OF THE KREMLIN is regarded as nothing to worry about by the DC Swamp, as evidenced by her being chummy with McFaul and her access to Washington politicians in general. So her meeting with DJT Jr. doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal.
Except Lynch letting her into the US under rare, special circumstances, then her pulling the con on Don Jr., before finally showing up to get a courtside seat to McFaul’s hearing on Russia/US relations sounds a bit fishy. It sounds like Veselnitskaya was playing multiple sides here to get what she wanted. Don Jr. thought he was getting dirt on Hillary, and shut the meeting down when that wasn’t apparent, and the Democrats got a meeting between a dodgy Russian and the Trump team on record. Indeed, the speculation is that the whole setup was used to justify a FISA court request for surveillance on the Trump Organiziation.
If true, this story has a long, long way to go, and the Russian Collusion Theorists in the media are going to wish they never tried to meme their fantasies into existence.