We now know even more about what the trump Campaign wanted
On Wednesday, May 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee officially released the interview transcripts they had received from their probe into the infamous Trump Tower meeting. To recap, on June 9, 2016, three members of the Trump campaign, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya for the purposes of obtaining “documents and information that would incriminate” Hillary Clinton.
The interaction was arranged by Russian real estate mogul named Aras and his son, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, as well as Emin’s publicist Rob Goldstone. The Agalarovs had previously hosted Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, creating a connection there.
In the aftermath of the disclosure of the meeting, the participants have insisted that nothing came out of it. However, even if the public were to believe them, the issue at hand is whether or not the meeting itself violated the law. Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon reportedly said that it was “treasonous,” while NBC’s Danny Cavallos insisted that it was unpatriotic, but not illegal.
The Senate transcripts are over 1,800 pages, but thanks to the efforts of Aaron Blake from The Washington Post and Elizabeth Preza from AlterNet, I have been able to breakdown the report’s five biggest disclosures.
1. Trump Lawyer Drafted Russian Statement
A lawyer for The Trump Organization, Alan Futerfas, told Goldstone to pass along a message to the Russian officials giving them a pre-determined statement to make on the matter.
“Please note that there will always be potential follow-up questions to any statement but if you feel comfortable with this statement and are comfortable saying nothing more, at least for the time being, that would be our preference.”
2. The Blocked Number
On the day of the meeting, Donald Trump Jr. made a call to someone with a blocked number. Despite the talk lasting 11 minutes, Trump Jr. claimed he somehow does not know who he was speaking to:
Q. Does your father used a blocked number on his cellphone or on any phones that you call him on?
A. I don’t know.
Q. So you don’t know whether this might have been your father?
A. I don’t.
However former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski testified that the future President Trump, Donald Sr.’s “primary residence has a blocked number”. Raising questions if Don Jr. lied about speaking to his Father, then candidate Trump, after the meeting.
3. Veselnitskaya’s real purpose
There are a lot of lawyers in Russia, so one question that remains is why Veselnitskaya was chosen for the meeting. Despite her claims to the contrary, it turns out it was because of her strong connections to the Moscow Kremlin. That is, according to Emin Agalarov, who in turn passed the information onto Goldstone.
4. What Paul Manafort Wrote Down
During the discussions, Manafort made the mistake of leaving a paper trail by taking notes. The Senate Judiciary Committee finally found out what those notes entailed:
Offshore – Cyprus
Not invest – loan
Value in Cyprus as inter
Active sponsors of RNC
Browder hired Joanna Glover
Tied into Cheney
Russian adoption by American families
It will be interesting to see what all these shorthand descriptions specifically mean, and whether they will have an impact on the Mueller probe.
5. Goldstone regretted it then and regrets it now
If there’s one person who has shown remorse over the prospect of the meeting, it is Goldstone. In light of the Russian investigation gaining steam, he sent an email to Agalarov with the statement that he was frustrated over the whole prospect:
Rob Goldstone, who set up the Trump Tower meeting, grew frustrated a year later and vents to his longtime client Emin Agalarov. “I did say at the time this was an awful idea and a terrible meeting.” pic.twitter.com/AGaiEx0UjO
— Matt Viser (@mviser) May 16, 2018