Photo Credit: Aaron Klein
Aaron Klein

Goldstone’s Bait And Switch

Bob Goldstone, the English publicist and music manager, admitted that “I didn’t know what I was really even talking about” when he sent a much publicized e-mail to Donald Trump Jr. to set up the infamous Trump Tower meeting, claiming to possess incriminating information and documents on Hillary Clinton originating with “the Crown prosecutor of Russia.”

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Goldstone further conceded that he had no factual basis to back up his e-mail to Trump Jr. claiming that any such purported opposition information on Clinton, which never surfaced, was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Like all other witnesses who have spoken publicly, Goldstone, who attended the Trump Tower meeting, said there was no dirt presented on Clinton and that the meeting 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.

He said he was “embarrassed” that he even set up the meeting, and described Trump campaign officials present as viewing the get-together as a waste of time.

Goldstone made the comments in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed in full by this reporter. The testimony is newly relevant following the renewed news media spotlight on the Trump Tower meeting while most of Goldstone’s nearly 250-pages of testimony remain entirely unreported by the news media.

Attempts to reach Goldstone have so far been unsuccessful.

Trump Jr. previously explained that he took the meeting thinking it was about “opposition research” on Hillary Clinton and was disappointed that it wasn’t. Trump Jr. also said the meeting lasted about 20 minutes, “ended up being about essentially nothing that was relevant,” was set up in a manner that “was essentially a bait and switch” and “everyone has basically said that in testimony already.”

The meeting was set up by Goldstone, who had contacted Trump Jr. on behalf of his client Emin Agalarov, a Russian singer and businessman who is the son of Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov. Aras Agalarov organized the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow when the pageant was partially owned by Donald Trump.

Goldstone had e-mailed Trump Jr. to set up a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lobbyist acting to counter the Magnitsky Act. In his testimony, Goldstone says that he did not know Veselnitskaya when he sent the e-mail and did not have any information that she worked for the Russian government. Veselnitskaya has long maintained that she is not tied to the Russian government. Goldstone testified that Veselnitskaya did not present herself as working for Russia during the meeting.

On June 3, 2016, Goldstone sent the following e-mail to Trump Jr.:

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 official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her 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 along 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.

The e-mail was widely cited by the news media, with many claiming the message represented some sort of collusion with Russia.

Russia does not have a “Crown prosecutor.” Rhona Graff served as President Donald Trump’s longtime secretary.

In his testimony, Goldstone attempted to explain his unusual phraseology.

He was asked about the part where he wrote about “very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.”

He responded that this section was just his own assumption from watching television and visiting Russia, and the email was not based on any actual knowledge of information originating with Russia

Asked about the section of his email where he claims the purported Clinton information originated with Russia’s nonexistent “Crown prosecutor,” Goldstone claimed that his British background led him to believe that former or current federal prosecutors are known as “crown prosecutors.”

Veselnitskaya, a lobbyist against the Magnitsky Act, previously described working in 1998 after law school at the Central Administration of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Moscow Region.

In her own testimony before the Senate, Veselnitskaya was asked why Goldstone may have presented her information, which she affirmed was about the Magnistky Act and not Clinton, as originating with the “crown prosecutor.”

“I do not know what Mr. Goldstone was talking about,” she replied. “Given what I know, I can assume that Mr. Agalarov might tell him a little about me, mentioning that I had previously worked in the prosecutor’s office.”

She continued, mocking Goldstone:

If you follow the logic of submitting information to the United States as to the fact that the RF (Russian Federation) Prosecutor General was supposed to be meant by the ”the Crown Prosecutor of Russia,” then on the basis of Goldstone’s next phrase about the transfer of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia,” which ends with the “this is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” doesn’t the absurdity and improbability of the story by this Frankenstein writer become obvious?

Can someone really think that the Prosecutor General is “leaking” “official, serious and confidential” information, uncovering some of his country’s bad relations with one candidate to another candidate via business people? Isn’t the nonsense discussed for months already very obvious?

And our meeting did not take place in a safe house like in the James Bond movies, but in the Trump Tower in New York. We had a very simple and short conversation.

Goldstone, meanwhile, admitted in the testimony that he used deliberately hyperbolic language to ensure that the meeting took place. Goldstone further said that he believes the meeting was a “bait and switch” by a Russian lobbyist seeking a meeting on another matter by misleadingly claiming to be bringing the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

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