Sunday, October 29, 2017

That other dossier

Via Evi L Blogger Lady.

Remember my theory that the anti-Clinton documents Natalya Veselnitskaya brought to the June 9 2016 Trump Tower meeting were printouts from the stolen DNC emails?

A whole host of developments have come up since then while I wasn't paying attention to suggest I probably got it all wrong; namely, Veselnitskaya came out herself, right at the beginning of the scandal in early July, to explain what she brought to the meeting, and what she said didn't sound like the DNC emails. (It was a "memo" about "a company run by a former US citizen. She believes this company didn’t pay taxes in either Russia or the US and may also have made donations to the DNC,"  she was quoted as saying.) Then again she's also said she couldn't have offered the Trump campaign any incriminating information on Clinton, since she didn't have any ("It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted"), and nobody believes that—if only because the correspondence between Rob Goldstone and Donald Jr. made it clear that they thought she did, and Donald Jr. ("I love it!") wouldn't have agreed to meet her otherwise. So perhaps she's not telling the whole truth about the documents as well.

In September, in any case, some details about her document showed up on CNN, through the offices of Scott Balber, who is the attorney for US matters of Aras Agalarov, the real estate developer and sometime Trump business partner whose son Emin originally requested the meeting and also of Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, the "eighth man" at the meeting. And in early October Foreign Policy obtained exclusive access to the whole thing, a five-page set of notes in English that she hoped to leave with her hosts following her lecture about the injustice of Bill Browder getting the US Congress to pass the Magnitsky Sanctions when he was in fact a bad person whose company Hermitage Capital Investment didn't pay taxes to the US (noted, he gave up US citizenship long ago) or Russia, and neither did Ziff Brothers Investments, a US firm with a big investment in Hermitage, which not only failed to pay taxes to Russia but were also Democratic donors ("It cannot be ruled out that they also financed Hillary Clinton campaign").

Sadly, according to Veselnitskaya's report, the Americans were not interested in these fruits of her legal research:

Veselnitskaya said when it became clear the meeting wasn’t what Trump Jr. expected, the document never changed hands.
And what I'm thinking, as I read through this idiocy, is, Good God! Donald Jr, was telling the truth! This really is the "most inane nonsense" he ever heard! What the fuck kind of opposition research was that?

But thinking back on it, I'm really not so sure, if only because the discrepancy between what she said and what her colleague Rinat Akhmetshin said, as reported by AP (my inspiration for the original post), is so extreme:
Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, Akhmetshin said. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign, he said.
“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalled her saying.
Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more. After that, Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.
“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.
Akhmetshin said he does not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government. He said he thinks she left the materials with the Trump associates. It was unclear if she handed the documents to anyone in the room or simply left them behind, he said.
Because she didn't say she brought a plastic folder of printouts, the material she said she brought didn't detail any flow of funds, she insists she didn't attempt to show how Democrats were accepting bad money or that it could harm them, she certainly isn't claiming to have given them materials they'd need to research further, she's frequently denied that what she has comes from the Russian government ("it's the fruit of her own research, she has repeatedly said") and she's categorical about not having given the Trumpies anything on paper.

Veselnitskaya told NBC,
“The question that I was asked [by Donald Jr.] was as follows: whether I had any financial records which might prove that the funds used to sponsor the D.N.C. were coming from inappropriate sources."
Veselnitskaya had no records and said "it was never my intention to collect any financial records to that end."
Akhmetshin told AP that Veselnitskaya's entire program was to "detail the flow of illicit funds", though she thought the Republicans would have more work to do before the task was finished.

In short, somebody here hasn't been telling the truth, and what I'd like to say is that if it's her, then there's a good chance I'm right: because what Akhmetshin describes, if you assume what Veselnitskaya describes isn't true, is pieces of the DNC emails, not the ones WikiLeaks ended up highlighting (because they couldn't be manipulated to show any misconduct), but definitely in the database, with their Finance Contributions Status reports (mentioned the last time I was on this) and Donor Vet Committee reports debating whether or not the DNC should accept contributions from people with various kinds of criminal past; lists of Democratic contributors, with all kinds of personal details, and discussions of whether their money might or might not be dirty.

I'm suggesting the story of the Ziff brothers and their Russian tax issues could be, quite literally, a cover story, for the five-page memo on the top, with a sample of pages from the DNC emails underneath, another dossier in effect.

The purpose being to get these documents past stupid and inattentive Donald Jr. and Jared to Manafort, apparently not paying attention at all as he focused on his phone, as physical proof that they had managed to steal the DNC emails, as one phase of the minuet, where the next one was to be when the Trump campaign showed its own hand at the GOP convention by removing the anti-Russia Ukraine plank from the party platform. Something that clearly wasn't safe to do by phone or over the Internet, and providing its own cover—in Veselnitskaya's obsession and Donald Jr.'s enraged boredom. Maybe my theory's halfway right after all!
“I could recognize the young gentleman who was only present in the meeting for probably the first seven to 10 minutes, and then he stood up and left the room,” she said. “It was Mr. Jared Kushner. And he never came back, by the way.
“And the other individual who was in the same meeting, but all the time he was looking at his phone. He was reading something. He never took any active part in the conversation. That was Mr. Manafort." Midway in the interview, she described Manafort as "absent-minded."
We now know that Manafort was taking careful notes with the phone, though we don't know what they said if we're not in the Senate Intelligence Committee. The purpose of this meeting was to clarify for him (not Kushner and still less Donald Jr., who can't be trusted with a secret as we know), as the competent person in the campaign, what kind of thing the Russians had to offer, how far they were willing to go, and what they wanted in return, which was at that point all about the Magnitsky sanctions. Veselnitskaya, even with the documents right there in her briefcase, may not have entirely understood; Donald Jr. and Jared may have understood virtually nothing, though they did understand that in listening to Veselnitskaya they were breaking the law. But the Trump campaign did its work with the Ukraine plank, the Russians did their work with WikiLeaks and whatever else they were undertaking with Facebook, Twitter, and voting registries, and Trump won, and he's been working systematically ever since, lazy as he is, to not implement sanctions on the Russian Federation. 

The Ziff brothers story is getting to be, formally, a thing, as I learned from The Times this morning, that being what got me started. Yury Chaika, prosecutor general of the Russian Federation, started  spreading it around 18 months ago, notably in conversation with the unspeakable Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-Putinist), and so did Natalya Veselnitskaya, pimping it with Rohrabacher and Rep. French Wilson, possibly working together, as The Times claims today, and most recently Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has been pimping it himself this week. There's a lot going on.

Just keep in mind as you process it how much the discussion of Veselnitskaya's "memo" as opposed to what might underlie it looks like a well planned distraction (not planned in Washington) from the things that are going down as we speak.

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