WARNING: This is a LONG article.
Now we know and now we have proof of direct collusion and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russians connected to Vladimir Putin
The short version
In response to the murder in prison of a Russian lawyer, the US Congress placed severe economic sanctions on Russia and banned several Russians — all close to Putin — from entering the US. (The Magnitsky Act)
In response, Russia banned several Americans from entering Russia and banned adoption of Russian children by Americans.
Donald Trump has long-time very close ties to Russia, for the most part because wealthy Russians have financed Trump’s businesses and kept them afloat with their purchases of Trump real estate.
During the November 2016 Presidential campaign, the Trump campaign said, if the Russians would give the campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, and, if Trump wins, he will dissolve the economic sanctions that are hurting Russia.
The Magnitsky Act
The Magnitsky Act, formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama in November–December 2012, intending to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. Since 2016 the bill is applied on a global scale by the US government.
In 2009, Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating a $230 million fraud involving Russian tax officials. Magnitsky was accused of committing the fraud himself and detained. While in prison, Magnitsky developed gall stones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis and was refused medical treatment for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, he was beaten to death while in custody. Bill Browder, a prominent American businessman and friend of Magnitsky, publicized the case and lobbied American officials to pass legislation sanctioning Russian individuals involved in corruption. Browder brought the case to Senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain who proceeded to propose legislation.
In June 2012, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs reported to the House a bill called the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 4405). The main intention of the law was to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system. The legislation was taken up by a Senate panel the next week, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin, and cited in a broader review of the mounting tensions in the international relationship.
In November 2012, provisions of the Magnitsky bill were attached to a House bill (H.R. 6156) normalizing trade with Russia (i.e., repealing the Jackson–Vanik amendment) and Moldova. On December 6, 2012, the U.S. Senate passed the House version of the law, 92-4. The law was signed by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012.
In 2016, Congress enacted the Global Magnitsky Act which allows the US Government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.
The Obama administration made public a list of 18 individuals affected by the Act in April 2013. The people included on the list are:
- Artem (aka Artyom) Kuznetsov, a tax investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
- Pavel Karpov, a senior investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
- Oleg F. Silchenko, a senior investigator for the Ministry of Internal Affairs
- Olga Stepanova, head of Moscow Tax Office No. 28
- Yelena Stashina (ru), Tverskoy District Court judge who prolonged Magnitsky’s detention
- Andrey Pechegin, deputy head of the investigation supervision division of the general prosecutor’s office
- Aleksey Droganov
- Yelena Khimina, Moscow tax official
- Dmitriy Komnov, head of Butyrka Detention Center
- Aleksey Krivoruchko, Tverskoy District Court judge
- Oleg Logunov (ru)
- Sergei G. Podoprigorov, Tverskoy District Court judge
- Ivan Pavlovitch Prokopenko
- Dmitri M. Tolchinskiy
- Svetlana Ukhnalyova
- Natalya V. Vinogradova
- Kazbek Dukuzov, Chechen acquitted of the murder of Paul Klebnikov
- Lecha Bogatyrov, implicated by Austrian authorities as the murderer of Umar Israilov
- Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic
In response to the adoption of the Magnitsky Act, the Russian government denied Americans adoption of Russian children, issued a list of US officials prohibited from entering Russia, and posthumously convicted Magnitsky as guilty. In addition, the Russian government reportedly lobbied against the legislation acting through a public relations company led by Kenneth Duberstein.
On December 19, 2012, the State Duma voted 400 to 4 to ban the international adoption of Russian children into the United States. The bill was unofficially named after Dmitri Yakovlev (Chase Harrison), a Russian toddler who accidentally died of heat stroke in 2008 when his adoptive American father forgot he was in the back seat of his SUV. Other recent developments include the proposition of a law to prevent US citizens from working with political NGOs in Russia and a proposition of a law, recently abandoned, preventing any foreigner from speaking on state television if they discredited the state.
On April 13, 2013, Russia released a list naming 18 Americans banned from entering the Russian Federation over their alleged human rights violations, as a direct response to the Magnitsky list. The people banned from Russia are listed below:
US officials involved in legalizing torture and indefinite detention of prisoners:
- David Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (2005–2009)
- John Yoo, Assistant US Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (2001–2003)
- Geoffrey D. Miller, retired US Army Major General, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2002–2003)
- Jeffrey Harbeson, US Navy officer, commandant of JTF-GTMO (2010–2012)
The Russian lawmakers also banned several U.S. officials involved in the prosecution and trial of Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout and drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko, both serving prison time in the United States:
- Jed Rakoff, Senior US District Judge for the Southern District of New York
- Preet Bharara, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Michael J. Garcia, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
- Brendan R. McGuire, Assistant US Attorney
- Anjan S. Sahni, Assistant US Attorney
- Christian R. Everdell, Assistant US Attorney
- Jenna Minicucci Dabbs, Assistant US Attorney
- Christopher L. Lavigne, Assistant US Attorney
- Michael Max Rosensaft, Assistant US Attorney
- Louis J. Milione, Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
- Sam Gaye, Senior Special Agent, US DEA
- Robert F. Zachariasiewicz, Special Agent, US DEA
- Derek S. Odney, Special Agent, US DEA
- Gregory A. Coleman, Special Agent, US Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Russians meet the Trump campaign
In June 2016, a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was hired to lobby against the Magnitsky Act in the US, set up a Trump campaign–Russia meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., purportedly to discuss altering the Russian Duma’s sanctions against American adoption of Russian children along with other alleged illegal activities. On July 11, 2017, Reuters US reported that at the meeting “[Russia] offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to [Trump Jr.’s] father.” Donald Trump Jr. insisted that Veselnitskaya did not reveal any damaging information about Secretary Clinton, contrary to what his correspondence had suggested. Trump Jr. subsequently released to the public via Twitter his personal records and correspondence between the Trump campaign team and Rob Goldstone, a longtime business partner and friend of Trump Sr. who actively represents several Russian interests and who had first pitched the meeting to Trump Jr.
And now — tie it all together into Trump-Russia collusion and conspiracy
Now we have learned, right after Donald Jr. set up the specifics of this meeting, he had two phone calls with a number in Russia belonging to Emin Agalarov.
Between those two calls, Trump Jr. received a third call from a blocked number. It now appears this number belonged to Donald Trump himself.
So — Donald, Jr. was approached by a Russian about a meeting to deal with dirt on Hillary Clinton and to address the idea that Trump Sr. would lift sanction on Russia if elected. Then — Donald Jr. called his father to seek permission to take this meeting.
Trump clearly anticipated he would soon possess juicy information on Clinton during a campaign speech on June 7, 2016, just two days before Don Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner sat down with a Russian “informant” and her entourage at Trump Tower.
Trump revealed his foreknowledge thusly: “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
That speech never came about. But within less than a week, hacked DNC documents began flowing to the internet and they would continue to plague Team Hillary throughout July 2016, just in time to cause chaos at the Democratic National Convention.
Donald Trump Jr. claims that he didn’t know the name of the person who was coming to the infamous Trump Tower meeting to provide the “dirt on Hillary Clinton” that had been promised as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” but she was certainly well-known around Washington, and around the Kremlin.
Newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.
This isn’t the first time that Veselnitskaya has been tied to the Russian government. In fact, she’s been the go-to attorney for pressing causes dear to the Kremlin in US courts.
Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer, who, like many involved in the Trump and Russia saga, isn’t directly employed by the Russian government but has a number of deeper government ties. The Russian government often operates by using not only its own employees but those with informal or personal relationships to its key leaders.
But it’s the first time Veselnitskaya seems to have dropped her “just a poor, private lawyer” approach to admit her connections.
Ms. Veselnitskaya has recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties. During an interview broadcast Friday by NBC News, she acknowledged that she was not merely a private lawyer but a source of information for a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general.
The prosecutor general … who Rob Goldstone promised Donald Trump Jr. was the source of that “dirt.”
In Rob Goldstone’s original emails to Donald Trump Jr.: “Emin just asked me to contact you with something very interesting. The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning, and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and could be very useful to your father.”
The person that Goldstone names as the “Crown prosecutor” is the prosecutor general, who Veselnitskaya talks about in her interview.
“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she said. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”
All of which proves that the Trump Tower meeting wasn’t a casual get together from which Jared Kushner bugged out early, Paul Manafort couldn’t stop playing with his phone and Donald Trump Jr. was disappointed. It was what it appeared to be—a key meeting between the participants in an international conspiracy to determine how best to utilize information illegally collecting through cyber warfare by a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. election.
At first glance, Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer may seem like Just Another Story in the long saga of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign. In fact, when compared to ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn phoning it in to the Russian ambassador, or favored son-in-law Jared Kushner offering to bring Trump right into the Russian embassy for secret chats with the Kremlin, this little meeting may seem like the “nothing burger” that Reince Priebus declared.
But this is a burger with everything. In fact, it may be the last item on Donald Trump’s menu. Because if this was a whodunit mystery, the answer would be dead obvious.
What seemed to be obvious almost a year ago, now is confirmed.
The previously undisclosed details about Ms. Veselnitskaya rekindle questions about who she was representing when she met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and others at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the campaign. The meeting, one focus of the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference, was organized after an intermediary promised that Ms. Veselnitskaya would deliver documents that would incriminate Mrs. Clinton.
The Russians stole documents.
They promised documents to Trump.
They met to discuss those documents.
The documents were delivered through WikiLeaks.
Trump operatives had advance knowledge of both contents and timing on WikiLeaks releases.
Donald Trump Jr. had communications with WikiLeaks to strategize on releases.
Donald Trump used that information in his campaign rallies.
Both Cambridge Analytica and Russian operatives used the information in stories targeted at key voter districts.
They used the Democratic voter-turnout model they had stolen to target voters for suppression.
They lied about every step.