Special counsel Robert Mueller and his staff must be shaking their heads as the latest Trump/Russia fiasco unfolds.
Donald J. Trump Jr., "Fredo," has now given four, perhaps five different accounts of his meeting in Trump Tower with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Each revision erodes his credibility to the point where there's now none left. Like his father, the probative value of anything Fredo says is just about nil. I suppose that was to be expected.
It's now emerging why Veselnitskaya wanted to meet with representatives of the Trump campaign. She had a powerful Russian client she wanted taken off the hook. Her client was defending a law suit brought by US Attorney Preet Bharara. The government argued that her client had laundered about 230-million in pilfered Russian rubles through Manhattan real estate deals. It's believed she was also lobbying for a repeal of America's Magnitsky Act. The quid pro quo, according to the email trail, was damaging Hillary Clinton emails. It is suggested they were to be released through WikiLeaks.
Shortly after being sworn into office, Trump abruptly fired US Attorney Bharara, Veselnitskaya's nemesis. Then, two days before trial, Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, settled the law suit for a piddling six million dollars with no publicity, no explanations. Veselnitskaya went home laughing at how the Americans had practically apologized to her.
Meanwhile Trump keeps talking about lifting sanctions against Russia and prominent Russians which likely means repeal of the Magnitsky Act. Fortunately there's too much heat on Trump & Company at the moment for him to get away with it.
As for former US Attorney Bharara and his curious firing, there are additional concerns:
In a subpoena from September, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York summoned another figure in the alleged scheme, Andrei Pavlov, to testify before a grand jury in New York. According to the subpoena, which was attached to a court filing, prosecutors wanted Pavlov to bring documents and copies of his correspondence with six people - including Veselnitskaya.
The United States attorney supervising that investigation, Preet Bharara, was fired by Trump in January after what the lawyer said were a series of “uncomfortable” calls in which Trump seemed to be trying to compromise his independence.
Trump trying to compromise his independence? That sounds a lot like fired FBI director Jim Comey's account about getting the squeeze from Trump.