Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A Bagful of Liars

It's the lie they spun on the orders of their president/dad/father-in-law and, even now that they're caught out, they're sticking to it.

The event was a meeting between Donald Trump Jr.  (and his gang) and a Russian lawyer (and her gang) at Trump Tower last June in the midst of the presidential election campaign.

The emails were clear. The Russkies wanted to dish up dirt on Trump's presidential campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, and Team Trump were in a mood to play ball.

The story invented by president Donald J. Trump after someone (??) leaked the smoking gun emails to The New York Times and still being spun by Donald Jr. ('Fredo'), Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, is that the Russian lawyer and her entourage pulled a fast one on them. Instead of dirt on Hillary she just wanted to talk about Americans adopting Russian babies.

But this wasn't just any lawyer. Natalia Veselnitskaya was a prominent Russian lawyer with ties to the Moscow establishment. She was also the lawyer in charge of a money laundering case brought by the US Attorney for New York, Preet Bharara. This US Attorney had quite a reputation for money crime cases. He was bigly feared by Wall Street. He had also seized nearly a quarter billion dollars said to be proceeds of money laundering by Veselnitskaya's client, a case that was going to trial in the Spring. That didn't seem to have anything to do with Russian babies.

At the meeting, Team Veselnitskaya, five people in total, included two interesting characters - Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze.

Rinat Akhmetshin: a Russian-American lobbyist who, by his own admission, worked as a military counterintelligence officer for the Soviet Union before its fall. He was a colleague of Veselnitskaya in lobbying against US sanctions; the New York Times reports that he had openly bragged in the past about the ease with which he could coordinate an email hacking campaign if he wanted to.

Ike Kaveladze, a real estate and finance executive who works for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian oligarchs who helped set up the session in the first place. The Post’s Rosalind Heiderman reports that he “attended as their representative.”

Kaveladze was a person of interest in a Congressional inquiry into money laundering 30 years ago. It's reported he set up a large number of shell companies into which Russian oligarchs were able to funnel questionable funds stripped out of post-Soviet Russia and then launder that money into big-ticket real estate in New York and Washington.

Kaveladze's sometime colleague, Alexei Bayer, is a fascinating character. Check out his Twitter feed.

But I digress. The point is that the Trump lie about this being a meeting not about Hillary but about Russian babies for adoption would mean that Veselnitskaya not only punked Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort but also these powerful and shady Russians, Akhmetshin and Kaveladze. Kaveladze must have been thrilled to fly in from the West coast for a chat about Russian babies. 

Why would Fredo, Jared and Manafort lie about this meeting? Because there could be criminal implications if they really conspired with the Russians to undermine Clinton. But they would never do that and Trump's dirty trickster, Roger Stone, flew to England to meet with Julian Assange just for shits and giggles.

And how did Trump make Veselnitskaya pay for tricking his son and son-in-law and campaign manager with this stupid stunt meeting?

Did the meeting have anything to do with Trump's decision early this year to abruptly fire Veselnitskaya's nemesis, heavy hitter US Attorney, Preet Bharara? Remember that firing occurred just a few weeks after Trump had gushingly praised Bharara and asked him to stay on as US Attorney. Read Bharara's account of what transpired leading up to his firing.

Then there's the money laundering lawsuit. How did that turn out? Two days before trial, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions settled the case for a minuscule six million dollars. The remaining 224 million dollars was promptly released to Veselnitskaya's Russian client. Here's some handy background to this curious money laundering/civil forfeiture case:

The forfeiture case was heralded at the time as “a significant step towards uncovering and unwinding a complex money laundering scheme arising from a notorious foreign fraud,” Bharara said. “As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate.”

But Instead of proceeding with the trial as scheduled, the Trump Justice Department settled the case two days before it was due to begin. By then, Bharara had already been axed by the president. Bharara’s assistant did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“We write with some concern that two events may be connected—and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts,” wrote 17 Democratic Congressmen on the House judiciary panel in a letter to Sessions on Wednesday.

The Russian attorney who uncovered the tax fraud scheme, Sergei Magnitsky, mysteriously died in prison. As a result, U.S. lawmakers passed the Magnitsky Act, which levied sanctions on Russian officials—sanctions that Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney, worked to reverse.

Also the attorney representing the Russian companies in the DOJ case, Veselnitskaya, is the same one who organized a meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. and top Trump campaign officials in June 2016 to offer material that could “incriminate” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “Love it,” responded Trump, Jr. to an intermediary.

My take? Team Trump is a bagful of liars. Their story is contrived. It's contradicted by the documents, the emails. They're quite clear on what the June meeting was about.

Then, once the summer was over, WikiLeaks began to dump Clinton documents - texts of her speeches, emails, triggering an FBI investigation by then director James Comey. As the election neared, Assange issued one final and massive dump of Clinton emails, Assange implausibly denying that the dump was aimed at harming Hillary Clinton. (Now Assange is disseminating bullshit to attack special counsel and Trump nemesis, Robert Mueller). 

The whole thing was just a massive string of coincidences. The meeting, that was a coincidence. The attendance of not just Trump Jr. but Kushner and Manafort - sheer coincidence. Both men say they never really read the text of Don Jr's emails. The meeting, all three chime, was a big nothingburger. Nothing happened. And those shady Russians? Nothing to see there.

The WikiLeaks campaign to smear Hillary - sheer coincidence. Roger Stone's London trip to parlay with Assange - sheer coincidence.

The abrupt firing of Preet Bharara, another coincidence. How could it be anything else?

Throwing the money laundering case against Veselnitskaya's client two days before it was to go to court? Hell, that was just a coincidence.

Or this was outright collusion between Team Trump and the Russians to skew the election. Those shady Russians were there in Trump Tower for a reason. Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort were there for the same reason. WikiLeaks very strategically dumped the Clinton documents for the same reason. Preet Bharara was abruptly fired by president Trump for the same reason. The money laundering/civil forfeiture case was "thrown" for the same reason.

Trump has tried to lift sanctions against Russia. He's argued for it repeatedly. Only Congress won't let him get away with it. They're adding sanctions and, with Robert Mueller's team investigating Trump's ties to Russian money and this very meeting, The Donald is hogtied. 

Here's something for you to ponder. Who is Trump's "Deep Throat"? Who sent those smoking gun emails to The New York Times?


the salamander said...

.. this all about greed.. all consuming greed, and vanity
a need for money, luxury and the derived power/control thereof
to be able to aquire whatever one desires for whatever reason

Its all there in the spoor of these parasitic predators
who presume to be our social, moral & ethical betters
They always leave a trail & can never keep their stories straight

The Trumplicans represent the political party end times in my view
but in all fairness the other GOP supplicants were laughable losers
C'mon man.. Ted Cruz? Jeb? Why not the toxic toadnewt Gingrich?

The astonishing new reality is the advent of Alex Jones or Steve Bannon
A Huckabee in the White House? Wot? Where is Sarah Palin?
When does Sean Hannity or Michael Savage get named to the Senate?

The pondscum from Queens - the walking talking fraud & liar Donald
just keeps piling it higher and deeper & louder & bigger
and lo, there's his entire family spewing bullshit in perfect sync

For some bizzaro reason, people want to shower these creeps with $$
Just like the Kardashians.. I truly don't know a single person on the planet
who would flaunt & wear or use either brand, other than as toilet paper

None of them will ever be punished or imprisoned..
hell, I don't believe the Trump gang will even be sanctioned..
Too big to jail? Too scandalous? Too ridiculous?
Or just too insane.. ...

Willy said...

And the big unanswered question is who gave the Cambridge data to the hackers so they could personalize the fake FB/TW stories the identifiable desktops in target counties/risings, Stone, Banyan or The Koch.
And I guess a second question of whether the Cambridge link will ever see the light of day since the Republicans used Cambridge in the recent bielections.
Besides can you really explain to the gullible Trumpsters and gullible pissed off Dems that they were in fact gullible.

Anonymous said...

Anyong>>>"The emails were clear. The Russkies wanted to dish up dirt on Trump's presidential campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, and Team Trump were in a mood to play ball." Putin knows who dumber than dumb is, and, is loving every minute of the "Queen" and his drama.

The Mound of Sound said...

I hope you're wrong, Sal. I wouldn't mind taking a case like this, not once the facts are fleshed out. I think Robert Mueller's investigators will find plenty of impeachment-grade evidence in this.

The number of people in jeopardy also plays into Mueller's hands. There is already plenty of talk about who might be co-operating with Mueller's team, cutting deals. That might include whomever leaked those emails to the NYT.

Trump has done himself and his family no favours with his demonstration of how little loyalty he has for his aides and staff. There's no doubt now that this guy will throw anyone to the wolves.

The Mound of Sound said...

Who can tell, Willy, but I think Robert Mercer might get swept up in Mueller's investigation. I certainly hope so.

The Mound of Sound said...

There are some pretty expert opinions about what Putin has been after from the Trump presidency. Congress may have thwarted Trump's ability to lift US sanctions but his overarching goal, according to the wise men, has always been to sow chaos in America and, on that score, he's succeeding - bigly.

Anonymous said...

rumleyfips said...

If you look worldwide ( sorry UScentics ) Putin has put money and effort into far right politicians that will maximum damage to demogracy. Farange, LePin etc. Trump is just one of these idiots.

Northern PoV said...

"I think Robert Mueller's investigators will find plenty of impeachment-grade evidence in this. "
Sure, and what will happen then? Lots of smoke and mirrors.

Meanwhile the most recent sanctions are simply economic warfare... they want to force the EU to buy expensive LNG (the dirtiest ff) from America rather than cheap Russian (cleaner) gas. Nordstream One has had its capacity restricted under the old sanctions. Now they want to stop Nordstream Two.

Just like the Syrian war, it is mostly about who gets to build their pipelines to Europe.