Photo Credit: Aaron Klein
Aaron Klein

Russian Businessman Gives Detailed Account Of Trump Tower Meeting

A Russian businessman who was present at the infamous, brief meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 has provided the most extensive publicly documented description yet about what allegedly transpired inside the room in which Russian nationals met with Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials.

Advertisement

Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze is senior vice president at Crocus Group, the real estate development firm owned by Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, whose associate and son were both involved in setting up the Trump Tower meeting.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that was recently made public, Kaveladze related that no one at the meeting presented themselves as representing the Russian government, no one discussed hacked e-mails, and no conversation took place that could possibly be characterized as “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Kaveladze testified that the meeting was an informational presentation that focused largely on the Magnitsky Act, which places sanctions on Russian officials accused of involvement in the death of a Russian tax accountant. In his testimony, he further related how he called the meeting “boring” when describing it afterwards.

Kaveladze said that the senior Trump campaign officials present at the meeting – Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner – didn’t seem interested in any of the information discussed.

He described Kushner as being “very frustrated” that he was wasting his time inside the meeting and Manafort as not even paying attention to the presentation.

“And at some point of time, Mr. Kushner asked a question. I can’t give you word by word, but I think the idea was: ‘Why are we here and why are we listening to that Magnitsky Act story?’ ” Kaveladze stated.

Kaveladze also described Trump Jr. as politely ending the meeting by telling participants that “We’re in the middle of electoral campaign,” and “We’re extremely busy right now.”

Contrary to suggestions that the meeting represented some sort of shadowy intended collusion, Kavedadze said that the meeting was not arranged as a secret and that he told “a lot of people” about it beforehand, including family members and even a neighbor.

 

Trump’s Tweet Is Much Ado About Nothing

In a tweet last Sunday, President Donald Trump wrote that the infamous, brief confab at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 between individuals tied to Russia, Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials was a “meeting to get information on an opponent.”

Trump further tweeted that the meeting was “totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere.”

Numerous major media outlets quickly utilized Trump’s social media posting to suggest that the president was contradicting an official statement issued by Trump Jr. last July about the purpose of the meeting.

“We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up,” read that statement, which added that it was “a short introductory meeting.”

The news media also framed Trump’s tweet to imply the statement about seeking to obtain “information on an opponent” was some sort of new admission when in fact the White House last year released information about the meeting being set up by Russian participants under the pretense that they possessed information about Hillary Clinton.

In actuality, Trump’s Sunday tweet that the meeting was set up “to get information on an opponent” does not contradict Trump’s Jr.’s statement, which focused on the actual content of the meeting itself. Nor was Trump’s tweet the first time the White House released information about the meeting being set up by Russian participants under the pretense that they possessed information about Hillary Clinton.

All meeting participants who have spoken publicly, including the Russian attorney who led the meeting, agree the confab itself focused largely on the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials accused of involvement in the death of a Russian tax accountant, as well as talk about a Russian tax evasion scheme and alleged connections to the Democratic National Committee.

The news media on Sunday covered Trump’s tweet about the meeting being set up “to get information on an opponent” as if this were the first time that such information was made public. Trump Jr. himself released emails containing that information immediately following a July 2017 New York Times article on the subject.

Advertisement