On Monday, it was apparent from the crowing in the leftosphere that the media think they’ve finally got Trump.
People on his campaign staff took a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. According to Donald Trump, Jr., with whom the meeting was arranged (by a British-born PR manager connected with the Miss America pageant), he was told before the meeting that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had information to share about Hillary Clinton. He invited Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner to the meeting.
Trump, Jr. says that it quickly became apparent Ms. Veselnitskaya had no useful information, and that her real objective in the meeting was to talk about the impact of the Magnitsky Act on Russian adoptions. He closed the meeting at that point.
At a superficial level, this event is a nothingburger. The funny thing is that when you push it a bit further, the questions raised are all about who thought it would be a good idea for Veselnitskaya to approach the Trump campaign, and why anyone would believe that her approach could possibly influence the U.S. election.
The questions, in other words, only serve to undermine the narrative.
But even at that, the retailers of the narrative can’t seem to leave well-enough alone. Which is what they should have done.
As long as only a thin thread of narrative is out there, causing people to chatter and speculate, it’s at least possible to make hay with some innuendo. Hmm, why didn’t Jared Kushner mention this meeting earlier, in the process of disclosure for his White House job? Why did he submit the information in an amendment to his initial disclosures? (Donald Trump, Jr., who doesn’t have a White House job, had no disclosure to make.)
Does this meeting contradict Trump’s statements about not having contact with the Russians? And for what evil purpose might his campaign staff have been willing to accept information about Hillary Clinton? (The implication that the media and the Democrats don’t know the answer to that question is perhaps the most give-me-a-break aspect of the entire thing. They don’t go to the bathroom without their oppo researchers in tow.)
These questions could be flogged endlessly, and probably will be. But now NBC has had a high-profile interview with the Russian lawyer, and what she told them undoes the narrative completely.
Veselnitskaya said she had no information about Hillary Clinton, and in essence claims she never offered any, before or during the meeting.
“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Natalia Veselnitskaya said.
So…nothing Veselnitskaya was there to talk about could possibly have affected the 2016 election. If the media think this is a slam-dunk for the narrative, they need to go back to kindergarten.
Veselnitskaya’s version of the overall incident is that she had put together briefs on the “real circumstances” behind the Magnitsky Act, and that perhaps it was information in those briefs that sparked the interest of the Trump campaign.
First, that makes no sense. Why would the Trump campaign invite her because of her Magnitsky briefings, but then ask her only if she had dirt on the DNC? Veselnitskaya’s own words, from the interview:
She also said that in the meeting, Trump Jr. asked her just one question.
“The question that I was asked 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.”
Second, the pretext Veselnitskaya imagines has no conceivable relevance to colluding over the 2016 election.
But finally, her version is non-credible, on several levels.
For one thing, Trump’s family, with its background in the lawyer-armored world of New York real estate development, would be well aware of the “New York” side of the Magnitsky case; that is, the shady, but high-profile, real estate investments of Russian-owned Prevezon Holdings, whose financial shenanigans Sergei Magnitsky uncovered with a forensic audit. The Trumps wouldn’t even have to look up the skulduggery-encumbered high-rise developments at 20 Pine and 250 East 49th Street, as I had to, to find out what they were.
Trump may not be long-practiced in national politics, but Donald, Jr. would be too savvy to solicit a meeting with one of Prevezon Holdings’ lawyers – Veselnitskaya – on the pretext of the Trump campaign getting information about the “circumstances” behind the Prevezon-Magnitsky mess. There was a very well-publicized Prevezon case in federal court at the time (link above); such a move could be nothing more than, at best, a gratuitous black eye. No matter what was in Veselnitskaya’s briefs, the Trumps, based on what they do for a living, would know better than to touch it with an 11-foot-pole.
It is not credible to suggest that what was in Veselnitskaya’s briefs would have interested them anyway.
Veselnitskaya’s interview is vague and elliptical in the extreme. A merely competent 16-year-old debater could take it down in two minutes. Perhaps there was more, but what we are treated to is only enough to imply a contradiction to Donald Trump, Jr.’s statements about the meeting.
It seems almost comical for NBC to rush out with the Veselnitskaya interview and shoot the narrative straight through the heart.
But don’t forget that Veselnitskaya, representing Prevezon Holdings, is in company with the oppo research firm Fusion GPS, which was hired to help Prevezon’s U.S. lawyers smear a key witness in the Prevezon money-laundering case in federal court. (The Southern District of New York settled the civil case, after nearly four years, in May 2017.)
Fusion GPS is also the firm behind the “dossier” on Trump, and among other things, has refused to disclose to Congress its list of clients. Besides working for Obama in 2012, and for Planned Parenthood after the baby-parts videos came out, Fusion GPS has a number of first- and second-order connections to Hillary Clinton.
The main thing that needs to be investigated here is what Fusion GPS’s role has been in every aspect of the innuendo campaign against Trump. It would also be of interest to find out exactly who was behind the approach to Donald Trump, Jr. to get him to take a meeting with Veselnitskaya. But regardless of who it was, the Veselnitskaya version of how the meeting came about shoots the “Russia-Trump” collusion narrative down entirely – and deals a death blow to the credibility of the media’s “meeting” story itself.