Archive for the ‘Donald Trump Jr.’ category

The Russian Collusion Story: The Acme of Fake News

July 16, 2017

The Russian Collusion Story: The Acme of Fake News, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, July 16, 2017

Richard Fernandez is one of the most brilliant authors on the Internet. This week he wrote:

Conventional wisdom posits the chief challenges facing the post-Cold War World are Global Warming and the decline of international institutions. But maybe that assurance is a species of Fake News. Suppose the most pressing problems in the next decade is finding new energy supplies to 1) keep the price of oil low enough to contain Russia (and Islamism); and 2) adapting to a disruptive information revolution no one can seem to control. Who will hand you that unconventional wisdom unless you come to it yourself.

He’s right, as I explain, but the significance of his observation is this: which of the two candidates — Hillary or Trump — was more likely to tap into America’s huge energy resources to contain both Russia and the Islamists? And when you answer that as you must — Trump — you can dismiss all the folderol about Donald J. Trump Jr’s, 15 minute meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer as evidence of “collusion” with Russia.  As I further explain, the non-stop media promotion of some nefarious scheme between Russia and Trump does not pass even the most cursory forensic examination, proving once again in the age of fake news, you cannot remain a passive consumer of news. You have to bring to each story the good sense and diligence with which you handle your most important personal affairs.

A. Russia and Environmental Groups

As Fernandez explained:

The oil crash collapsed the ruble and forced a 27% reduction in the Kremlin’s military budget in 2016.  With oil prices set to stay flat the Russians have to keep drilling and investing simply to stay level as the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies notes.  The Kremlin doesn’t make any real spending money until world oil price gets above levels before the great oil crash of 2014, which may not happen any time soon.[snip] You would think this a Eureka moment: to contain oil prices is to contain Russia (and Islamism). But cheap fossil fuels are not everyone’s cup of tea.  “Drill, baby, drill” is not popular on the left.  Even though liberals understand the power of cheap energy — one of Hillary’s supposedly hacked emails even alleged anti-fracking and environmental causes were a Russian plot to depress oil production — to advocate it is bad progressive politics. This probably led the Saudis to Hillary’s camp in 2016. “According to Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Group, countries in the oil-producing Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, are hoping for Hillary Clinton to become president.”

If you’re looking for collusion with Russia, it is not to be found in the Trump Tower meeting.  Paul Mirengoff of Powerline details the Russian efforts through environmental groups — at best Stalin’s “useful idiots” — to tamp down US energy production.

 Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, tells James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal:

If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking. They have established an elaborate scheme that funnels money through shell companies in Bermuda. This scheme may violate federal law and certainly distorts the U.S. energy market. The American people deserve to know the truth and I am confident Secretary Mnuchin will investigate the allegations.

To help Sec. Mnuchin conduct such an investigation, Rep. Smith, along with Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber, sent him a letter. They noted:

According to the former Secretary General of NATO, “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.” Other officials have indicated the same scheme is unfolding in the U.S.

Reps. Smith and Weber add that, according to public sources including a 2014 report from Republican staff on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “entities connected to the Russian government are using a shell company registered in Bermuda, Klein Ltd. (Klein), to funnel tens of millions of dollars to a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) private foundation,” which supports various environmental groups. Klein denies this allegation.

Regardless of the conduit for the money, the allegation of funneling appears to be substantial. Indeed, says Freeman, it appears to have been noted by none other than Hillary Clinton:

If a document posted last year on WikiLeaks is to be believed, Clinton campaign staff summarized in an email attachment Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the subject during a private speech:

Clinton Talked About “Phony Environmental Groups” Funded By The Russians To Stand Against Pipelines And Fracking. “We were up against Russia pushing oligarchs and others to buy media. We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you, and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia.” [Remarks at tinePublic, 6/18/14]

Freeman suggests that Mnuchin commence his investigation by speaking with Mrs. Clinton, who “obviously knows the terrain.” He also thinks John Podesta would be a useful source.

Podesta is invested in and acts for a “green energy company backed by the Russian government.”

B. The Media Has lost all Credibility, Serving as the semi-official newsroom for the Democratic Party

Just as Fernandez detailed the rise of Samizdat in Russia as the official press was uniformly distrusted, the growth on alternate media in the U.S. is disrupting the old news models .

Our trust hierarchies have collapsed. As with Soviet Russia, the “official” media sources are now distrusted as purveyors “fake news”.  To fill the gap a peer-to-peer grapevine, similar to the “friends and family”, a samizdat is emerging to pick up the slack. Sonya Mann at Inc uses a startup to illustrate the growing division of society into trust groups. “Pax Dickinson wants to fund the revolution. Not a blood-in-the-streets revolution, but one where hardcore right-wingers can economically secede from the parts of society they vehemently dislike. “We need parallel everything. I do not want to ever have to spend a single dollar at a non-movement business.

Nothing so illustrates why the media has  deservedly lost all credibility than it’s unending, overdone effort to fit any action on the part of the President or those around him into a narrative of Russia somehow colluding with him to defeat Hillary. This week’s take was the short meeting his son held with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower last summer.

The clearest summary of the facts surrounding the meeting with Trump’s son last summer is to be found in The American Spectator.  Scott McKay writes:

[Natalia] Veselnitskaya’s  [The Russian lawyer’s] presence in the United States alone ought to be the source of suspicion that not only is the Trump-Russian collusion narrative suspect in this case but that the real inquiry ought to be into whether the encounter was a small part of a larger attempt to trap the Trump campaign.

The Russian lawyer wasn’t even supposed to be here. She had been denied a visa for entry into the United States in late 2015, but given a rather extraordinary “parole” by the federal government to assist preparation for a client subject to asset forfeiture by the Justice Department. That was in January. The client was Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company suspected of having been paid some portion of $230 million stolen by Russian mobsters. When Sergey Magnitsky a Russian lawyer representing a company that had been the victim of the theft, reported it to authorities in Moscow he was promptly jailed and beaten to death. The American response to this atrocity was the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned several individuals connected to human rights abuses. The Russian government retaliated by preventing American adoptions of Russian children.

But in June, she was permitted to fly back to the U.S., have the meeting with Trump Junior  —  at Trump Tower, no less  —  and then end up in the front row for a congressional hearing involving testimony from a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, then turning up at a D.C. showing of a documentary film on the negative effects of the Magnitsky Act, and later appearing at a dinner involving Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) who is now a lobbyist for the Russians. The repeal of that legislation is a priority item for the Russians and a personal project of Veselnitskaya’s; it, rather than any Clinton dirt, was reportedly the primary subject brought forth at the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.

All of this without a visa! Not to mention Veselnitskaya didn’t file a FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) document before acting as a lobbyist for a foreign entity, as required by law. Neither, apparently, did Dellums. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a fascinating letterTuesday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking them to please find out what in the hell Veselnitskaya was doing in this country last June.

And further, it turns out Veselnitskaya was connected to Fusion GPS, the Democrat opposition research firm which employed a former British spy who used Russian contacts to produce the infamous and debunked Pee Pee Dossier smearing Trump. Veselnitskaya hired Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson to work on behalf of Prevezon, the company she was allowed into the country to represent, in its efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act. Fusion then hired Christopher Steele, the British spy who drew on Russian sources to produce that dossier, and made him available for private briefings on the dossier with left-leaning media sources such as Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorkerand CNN in September.

Naturally, John McCain is involved  —  if that fact should produce his resignation, all of this will have been worth it.

By the way, there is Veselnitskaya’s social media account, which is decidedly more aligned with the Fusion GPS side of this equation than the Trump side.

And the meeting came about largely due to hyped-up promises made by a publicist for a Russian pop star who was connected to the Trump family from the Miss Universe pageant having been held in Moscow in 2013  —  promises which don’t appear to have been fulfilled. If this whole thing doesn’t look like an old-fashioned dangle to you, then you haven’t watched enough spy movies.

If timelines are interesting to you, there is this  —  reportedly, the Obama administration sought permission to electronically monitor Trump Tower in early June, and the FISA court would not grant it. But in October, that warrant was given. [snip]

And once that meeting  —  which on its surface was a waste of everyone’s time  —  was had, the Obama administration now had something to sell to the FISA court to get that warrant  —  from which they snagged Mike Flynn and gave the Democrat party and the media a mechanism to shroud the Trump administration in what can best be described as a rather dubious scandal. Remember how Hillary Clinton was accusing Trump of being a Putin’s puppet at the October 19 debate?

C. Donald J Trump’s son had every reason to believe that there was evidence of Hillary’s collusion with Russia

If this seems farfetched, consider this Veselnitskaya  was barred from entry to the US until Loretta Lynch granted her an excedptional “immigration parole” to appear in a judicial proceeding; a federal judge considered — but we can find no ruling — her motion  on January 6, 2016,to extend her stay by a week, and then  with no explanation of how this occurred, she was back in the US on June of that year  where she met with Donald J Trump Jr and attended as a front row guest a Congressional hearing on the Magnitsky act which imposed sanctions on Russia.

To add a dash of extra color to the story the media reported that with the lawyer was a “former Russian counter intelligence officer”, Rinat Akhmetshin.  He denies this.

“I am an American citizen since 2009 who pays taxes, earned his citizenship after living here since 1994, and swore an oath of loyalty to the United States of America,”

Kayleigh McEnany in The Hill characterized this as a “conspiracy theory desperately in earch of evidence”.

Bill Clinton had given a $500,000 speech in Russia.  Clinton had given her approval in handing one-fifth of U.S. uranium to Russia, after which her foundation received $2.35 million from the Russian-controlled company.  Suspiciously, Clinton did not disclose the transaction.

Likewise, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta sat on the board of a company that received $35 million from the Russian government alongside fellow board members Anatoly Chubais, a senior Russian official, and Ruben Vardanyan, an oligarch.

Given this context, why wouldn’t Trump Jr. be open to taking a meeting that offered evidence of incriminating Clinton dealings with Russia, particularly when most of the media refused to look into Clinton’s question-raising actions?[snip] We likewise know that several foreign countries known for their human rights violations  —  like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei, and Algeria  —  donated millions to the Clinton foundation, and yet few publications construed their “support” in a negative way.

Taken together, the micro story of Donald Trump Jr. seeking opposition research  —  much like Clinton allies did in their dealings with the Ukrainian government  —  does nothing in the way of proving the macro allegation that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in hacking the DNC and releasing Clinton’s illegally obtained emails.

The American people see through this leftist-purveyed Russia conspiracy theory.  That’s why a full 56 percent want Congress and the media to focus on real issues, not Russia.  If the left continues to concoct Russian collusion evidence, they can fully expect for the 2018 congressional elections to look a lot like the special elections in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Georgia  —  Republican victory.  Voters dismiss the salacious in favor of solutions, and as of now, the left have nothing besides an evidence-free smear campaign.

In any event, isn’t it curious that those who claim to consider a meeting to listen to opposition research, bought hook line and sinker the ridiculous-on-its-face Dossier concted by GPS against Trump, a far more likely piece of Russian intel disinformation? Or why they ignore DNC officials meeting with Ukrainian government officials for dirt on then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Politico detailed the many ways the Ukrainians worked to help Hillary beat Trump.  As you might guess, they indicated these efforts were “far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.” Covering with the word “alleged” a smear without any evidence but for the mutterings of Crowdstrike, a private outfit which was the only investigation the DNC allowed , a misstep by the Comey FBI which let this pass.

In any event, Legal commentators on both sides of the aisle have confirmed there was nothing illegal about the meeting.   I suppose we can’t expect much more of a press corps so stupid it mistakes the Star Spangled Banner for France’s La Marseillaise, and Bastille Day for the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. entry in WW I.

You’ll just have to work harder in the face of such ignorance and bias to find out what you need to know.

Trump Jr.’s Emails Undermine Collusion Conspiracy Theory

July 12, 2017

Trump Jr.’s Emails Undermine Collusion Conspiracy Theory, Front Pae MagazineMatthew Vadum, July 12, 2017

No matter what happens the Left will keep attacking President Trump and his family members and campaign staff because that’s what they do.

In the Left’s rolling coup attempt against President Trump facts are irrelevant.

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Donald Trump Jr. fought back yesterday against the increasingly desperate shrieking from the tinfoil-hat Left by publishing online the emails that led to his innocuous campaign-season meeting a year ago with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

By releasing the chain of emails leading to the much ballyhooed but brief get-together at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Donald Jr. is hoping to dispel any notion that the Trump campaign somehow colluded with the Russian government to affect the outcome of the November 2016 election. (I wrote about the Trump Jr. meeting story yesterday here at FrontPage before the emails became available.)

The emails do not indicate any knowledge of Russian government wrongdoing, such as hacking, or Trump campaign involvement in such activities. Yet the mainstream media is going berserk, hyping the overheated ravings of leftist idiots like Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) whose disastrous performance in the vice presidential debate against Republican Mike Pence may have helped to sink the Democrat ticket last year.

Kaine accused Donald Trump Jr. of committing treason by agreeing to meet with Veselnitskaya. “We are now beyond obstruction of justice,” Kaine said Tuesday. “This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.”

Of course, Kaine is no stranger to treason. He himself may have engaged in seditious activity in late January when he said Democrats would have to “fight in the streets” against the Trump administration.

And how quickly the Left forgets that the Ukrainian government took action to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign with nary a peep from left-wingers. As one media outlet reported:

The actions taken by government officials included disseminating “documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”

Meanwhile, the Left is trying to stigmatize and de-normalize everything Trump’s father does as president, pretending opposition research is something new and shady when it has been part of the electoral process ever since elections began. Nor is it illegal, immoral, or somehow unethical to “collude,” by which the Left means, communicate, with foreign nationals in conducting opposition research in connection with an election. The U.S. does have the First Amendment, after all. But all of this nonsense and misdirection is part of the Left’s campaign to delegitimize the Trump administration.

But honest left-wing law professor Jonathan Turley trashed an ethics lawyer for claiming that the Trump Jr.-Veselnitskaya meeting “borders on treason.”

“There is not a clear criminal act in such a meeting based on the information that we have,” Turley writes. “Moreover, it is not necessarily unprecedented.”

The president’s oldest son said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show yesterday that he didn’t bother his busy father with the particulars of what turned out to be a pointless meeting with Veselnitskaya.

“It was just a nothing,” the younger Donald said. “There was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.”

Yesterday morning, Donald Jr. published what appears to be the complete email chain on Twitter through his @DonaldJTrumpJr account. He released a statement alongside the email chain, which reads:

To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016. The first email on June 3, 2016 was from Rob, who was relating a request from Emin, a person I know from the 2013 Ms. Universe Pageant near Moscow. Emin and his father have a very highly respected company in Moscow. The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research. I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official. And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act. To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue. As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was “the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it.”

According to the BBC, Goldstone is a Manchester, England-born former journalist who now heads Oui 2 Entertainment, which has worked with the Miss Universe competition that used to be owned by President Trump.

Using the subject line “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential[,]” the initial email from Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr. time-stamped June 3, 2016, 10:36 a.m., states:

Good morning[.]

Emin just called and 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 officials [sic] documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and hear [sic] dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped by Aras and Emin.

What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?

I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.

Goldstone’s assertion that the “very high level and sensitive information” comes as a result of the Russian government’s purported “support for Mr. Trump” is merely an unsubstantiated claim at this point. And even if it had been true that the Russian government was trying to help the Trump campaign, there is still no evidence that its efforts had any impact on the election, or that the campaign in any way collaborated with the Kremlin.

In the email, “Emin” refers to Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, an Azerbaijani singer-songwriter and businessman popular in Russia. Emin’s father is billionaire businessman Aras Agalarov. “Rhona” seems to refer Donald Sr.’s longtime assistant, Rhona Graff.

Russia is a not a monarchy so there is no such position as “Crown prosecutor” in that country. Crown prosecutors may be found representing the government in criminal trials in the United Kingdom, Canada, and other parts of the (British) Commonwealth of Nations. The expression in the email is likely a botched translation of the Russian words for the post of prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation, or more simply, attorney general. The current prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation is Yury Chaika, a position he has held since 2006.

Young Trump replies at 10:53 a.m., signing the email as “Don.”

Thanks Rob[.] I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I [should] just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?

Three days later, at 12:40 p.m. on June 6, Goldstone emails Donald Jr., writing:

Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info – you had mentioned early this week so wanted to try to schedule a time and day[.] Best to you and family[.] Rob Goldstone[.]

There are then five banal emails discussing times for the meeting, along with future telephone calls. Then, at 4:20 p.m. on June 7, Goldstone emails Trump Jr.:

Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday. I believe you area [sic] aware of the meeting – and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you? I assume it would be at your office.

Then at 5:16 p.m. Donald Jr. replies with, “How about 3 at our offices? Thanks[,] rob[.] [I] appreciate you helping set it up.”

Three minutes later Goldstone replies:

Perfect…I won’t sit in on the meeting, but will bring them at 3pm and introduce you etc. I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.

At 6:14 p.m. Donald Jr. writes back to Goldstone, saying, “Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort[,] my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.”

A few more emails are exchanged and the meeting time on Thursday, June 9 is changed to 4 p.m.

On June 8, 2016, at 12:03 p.m., Trump Jr. emails then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, advising them that the “[m] eeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.”

The Hill newspaper described the disclosed documents as a “stunning chain of emails,” which no doubt it is to greenhorn journalists who don’t understand retail politics in this country. Moreover, Hillary Clinton was already under criminal investigation in the United States, so why would it be so hard to believe she was also under some kind investigation in Russia where the Clintons have had so many shady dealings?

To refuse the meeting would have been crazy, reckless, and irresponsible.

And it now appears that Goldstone was either fibbing about the information Natalia Veselnitskaya had in her possession or perhaps embellishing a bit to get her the meeting with Trump staffers.

Veselnitskaya told NBC News she had no connection to the Kremlin and met with Donald Trump Jr. to chat about Russian-American relations, not to divulge dirt on Hillary Clinton.

“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton,” she said. “It was never my intention to have that.”

When asked why the Trump campaign seemed to believe she had damaging information about Democrats, Veselnitskaya took a wild guess.

“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.”

She explained that she put together a package of information for one of her clients about a business run by a former citizen of the United States. She added the concern failed to pay taxes either in Russia or the U.S. and may have also given money to the Democratic National Committee.

Veselnitskaya said at the meeting Donald Jr. asked only 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 DNC were coming from inappropriate sources.”

She said she had no such records and that “it was never my intention to collect any financial records to that end.” She added she wanted to let people know about “the real circumstances behind the Magnitsky Act,” and was hoping to testify about the sanctions statute before Congress.

“I never asked anybody for a particular meeting with Mr. Donald Trump Jr., or with anybody else,” she said.

Trump Jr.’s new attorney, Alan Futerfas, said Monday “that Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed” in the meeting and called news reports “much ado about nothing.” He noted that Veselnitskaya, who had been a prosecutor 16 years ago, was no longer a government official.

No matter what happens the Left will keep attacking President Trump and his family members and campaign staff because that’s what they do.

In the Left’s rolling coup attempt against President Trump facts are irrelevant.