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Donald Trump Junior’s account of meeting with Russian lawyer corroborated

Far from adding a sinister twist to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, the presence at the meeting of Rinat Akhmetshin, a US citizen, has provided a witness who has corroborated Donald Trump Junior’s account of it.

Alexander Mercouris




The story of the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on 9th June 2016 has now taken a further twist with the disclosure that the lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin accompanied Veselnitskaya to the meeting.

Some sections of the media are trying to find something sinister in Akhmetshin’s presence at the meeting.  He is being called a ‘lobbyist’ working on behalf of Russian interests to oppose the Magnitsky Act and a “former Soviet counter-intelligence official”.

Akhmetshin is a US citizen.

He may indeed be a Washington lobbyist with a record of opposing the Magnitsky Act.  That of course is not a crime.

Since the Magnitsky Act was precisely the subject Veselnitskaya intended to discuss during her meeting with Donald Trump Junior it is completely unsurprising that she brought a professional lobbyist experienced in opposing the Magnitsky Act with her to the meeting.

Nothing sinister or strange should therefore be read into Akhmetshin’s presence at the meeting.

If Donald Trump Junior did not disclose his presence previously, it may be because his presence was unimportant, or because Donald Trump Junior did not know who he was.

As for whether, presumably as part of his military service, Akhmetshin once served in a Soviet military unit tasked with counter-intelligence, that is completely inconsequential.  As anyone who knows Russians of a certain age can confirm, it was actually quite usual in the USSR for Russians with knowledge of a foreign language to do their military service in such units.  I happen to know at least two such Russians.

As Akhmetshin correctly says, that in no sense means that he was any sort of professional spy, or that he was ever trained as a spy, or that he is a spy now.

As it happens Akhmetshin provides further confirmation of Donald Trump Junior’s account of the meeting.  Here is what he says

In his first public interview about the meeting, Akhmetshin said he accompanied Veselnitskaya to Trump Tower where they met an interpreter. He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.

Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, Akhmetshin said. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign, he said.

“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalled her saying.

Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more. After that, Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.

“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.

Akhmetshin said he does not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government. He said he thinks she left the materials with the Trump associates. It was unclear if she handed the documents to anyone in the room or simply left them behind, he said.

This is in all essentials exactly what Donald Trump Junior says happened at the meeting.

In other words all this latest ‘revelation’ has done is provide further corroboration – from someone who is a US citizen and who has no known connection either to the Trump campaign or to the Russian government – that Donald Trump Junior’s account of his meeting with Veselnitskaya is true.

In my recent discussion of the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, I made the point that Veselnitskaya’s status and the purpose of her visit to the US to meet with Donald Trump Junior was so completely misrepresented in the emails Donald Trump Junior received from the British pop music promoter Rob Goldstone (who it turns out also attended the meeting) that clearly some sort of deception was going on and Donald Trump Junior was obviously the target of it.

A theory which has been doing the rounds is that the intention behind the deception was to secure from Donald Trump Junior some sort of commitment to have the Magnitsky Act sanctions lifted in return for damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps the most persuasive account of this theory is the one provided by the US investigative journalist Robert Parry

The Russian lawyer, Natalie Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and other advisers to Donald Trump Sr.’s campaign, represented a company that had run afoul of a U.S. investigation into money-laundering allegedly connected to the Magnitsky case and his death in a Russian prison in 2009…..

As a lawyer defending Prevezon, a real-estate company registered in Cyprus, on a money-laundering charge, she was dealing with U.S. prosecutors in New York City and, in that role, became an advocate for lifting the U.S. sanctions, The Washington Post reported.

That was when she turned to promoter Rob Goldstone to set up a meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. To secure the sit-down on June 9, 2016, Goldstone dangled the prospect that Veselnitskaya had some derogatory financial information from the Russian government about Russians supporting the Democratic National Committee. Trump Jr. jumped at the possibility and brought senior Trump campaign advisers, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, along.

By all accounts, Veselnitskaya had little or nothing to offer about the DNC and turned the conversation instead to the Magnitsky Act and Putin’s retaliatory measure to the sanctions, canceling a program in which American parents adopted Russian children. One source told me that Veselnitskaya also wanted to enhance her stature in Russia with the boast that she had taken a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump’s son.

If Donald Trump Junior had agreed that a future Trump administration would lift the Magnitsky sanctions in return for damaging information about Hillary Clinton then that would indeed have been evidence of a willingness – at least on his part – to collude with Russia in order to help his father win the election.  Proponents of the Russiagate scandal would in that case have some valid points to make about his meeting with Veselnitskaya, though it should be stressed that it still would not have broken any law.

However nothing of the sort in fact happened.  Veselnitskaya came to the meeting either empty handed or with nothing of interest to show, and Donald Trump Junior very properly refused to make any promises about the Magnitsky sanctions – apparently pointing out to Veselnitskaya that he is a private citizen and that she should address her complaints about the Magnitsky Act to those with public authority to decide the question – and showed her the door.

That is what everyone who took part in the meeting – including Akhmetshin and Goldstone – says happened, and there is no reason to doubt it.

I would add that there is no hint in Goldstone’s emails that any trade off of information about Hillary Clinton in return for a commitment to lift the Magnitsky Act sanctions was ever offered.

Though Robert Parry’s theory is plausible and is consistent with what Akhmetshin says, it is fair to point out that the family lawyer of father and son Agalarov – who were the original instigators of the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior – says that they categorically deny that the misrepresentations in Goldstone’s emails had anything to do with them, and they blame Goldstone for them

The vast majority of what Rob Goldstone said in email exchange with Donald Trump Jr. is not accurate.  The only thing that’s true is that Emin asked the meeting to be arranged. The rest of it is not true, it’s false.

It is not true that Alar Agalarov had a meeting with Russian prosecutors about the campaign. It is not true that Natalya is a lawyer for the Russian Federation government, we understand that she’s a private practitioner, who represents private clients.  It is not true that our understanding was that the purpose of the meeting was to talk about the campaign, our understanding was only that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Magnitsky Act, which is an issue that we understand Natalya has been pursuing and interested in for some time.

Rob Goldstone was a publicist, a promoter for Emin’s musical career. So, they certainly had a relationship in that regard.

Rob Goldstone is an entertainment industry publicist. So, I think it’s fair to say that he was out of his alignment in making these communications. And what he said … is not true.

The important thing about this denial is that it admits that Emin Agalarov was the person who originally suggested the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya.  However if his denial and that of his father is to be believed, all they had in mind was a meeting to discuss the Magnitsky Act.

Neither of them apparently had any thought of a trade off of information about Hillary Clinton in return for a commitment to lift the sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act.

Perhaps the Agalarovs are not telling the truth, or perhaps Veselnitskaya – after securing the introduction to Goldstone from the Agalarovs – fooled Goldstone by pretending to be either the “Crown Prosecutor of Russia” or someone acting for this mythical person, or perhaps Goldstone sought to impress the Agalarovs with his importance by hyping up Veselnitskaya’s status in order to secure the meeting with Donald Trump Junior – which might not have happened otherwise – or perhaps Goldstone and Veselnitskaya were working on the deception together.

However two final points can be made before the chapter is closed on this strange affair.

The first is that there is some speculation that a speech Donald Trump announced around this time, which he said would expose Hillary Clinton’s malpractices but which he subsequently cancelled, was in some way connected to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya.

There is not a scintilla of evidence that this was the case.

The Goldstone emails show that there was no communication between Goldstone and Donald Trump.  There is no evidence Donald Trump ever saw Goldstone’s emails, or had any knowledge of them or of his son’s meeting with Veselnitskaya until the story broke a few days ago.  All those involved categorically deny that he had any such knowledge or that the failure of Veselnitskaya to come up with information about Hillary Clinton had anything to do with the cancellation of his speech.  There is no reason to doubt this, and this theory should be abandoned.

By contrast the wording of Goldstone’s emails does at least point to a possibility that what happened was an unsuccessful attempt either to put flesh on the allegation in the first 20th June 2016 entry of the Trump Dossier that the Russians were feeding information to the Trump campaign from a secret file or dossier that they have on Hillary Clinton, or was possibly an attempt to verify this allegation.

Along with the timing there do seem to be some connections between some of the people involved – including Veselnitskaya and Goldstone – and Fusion GPS, the company which commissioned the Trump Dossier.

Though the Trump Dossier makes no reference to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya, it does contain one brief reference to Araz Agalarov in an entry dated 14th September 2016, which reads as follows

Two knowledgeable St. Petersburg sources claim Republican candidate TRUMP has paid bribes and engaged in sexual activities there but key witnesses silenced and evidence hard to obtain.

Both believe Azeri business associate of TRUMP, Araz Agalarov will know the details.

This allegation – like many others in the Trump Dossier – is unsubstantiated, impossible to verify, and almost certainly invented.

However it does show that the people responsible for the Trump Dossier had the Agalarovs in their sights, which adds to the possibility that this was some sort of attempt either to spin something sinister out of their relationship with Donald Trump, or to probe into its nature.

There is now inevitably talk of Donald Trump Junior being summoned to testify before various Senate committees about this affair.  In truth since we know all the details of his actions there is no useful point in this other than to make some drama out of it.

If the Senate is really interested in getting to the bottom of this affair then the person they should be asking to see is Rob Goldstone, who was the author of the emails.  On the face of it he has some serious questions to answer, and his replies could be interesting.



Republicans call Justice Department’s Bruce Ohr to testify, but where is British Spy Steele? (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 78.

Alex Christoforou



Representative Mark Meadows tweeted Friday…

“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+ contacts with dossier author Chris Steele, as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth.”

Lawmakers believe former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr is a central figure to finding out how the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid PR smear firm Fusion GPS and British spy Christopher Steele to fuel a conspiracy of Trump campaign collusion with Russians at the top levels of the Justice Department and the FBI.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Sunday to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo…

So here you have information flowing from the Clinton campaign from the Russians, likely — I believe was handed directly from Russian propaganda arms to the Clinton campaign, fed into the top levels of the FBI and Department of Justice to open up a counter-intelligence investigation into a political campaign that has now polluted nearly every top official at the DOJ and FBI over the course of the last couple years. It is absolutely amazing,

According to Breitbart, during the 2016 election, Ohr served as associate deputy attorney general, and as an assistant to former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. His office was four doors down from Rosenstein on the fourth floor. He was also dual-hatted as the director of the DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Ohr’s contacts with Steele, an ex-British spy, are said to date back more than a decade. Steele is a former FBI informant who had helped the FBI prosecute corruption by FIFA officials. But it is Ohr and Steele’s communications in 2016 that lawmakers are most interested in.

Emails handed over to Congress by the Justice Department show that Ohr, Steele, and Simpson communicated throughout 2016, as Steele and Simpson were being paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the role Bruce Ohr played in Hillary Clinton’s Deep State attack against the Presidency of Donald Trump, and why the most central of figures in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, British spy for hire Christopher Steele, is not sitting before Congress, testifying to the real election collusion between the UK, the Obama White House, the FBI and the DOJ.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Washington Times

Republicans in a joint session of House committees are set to interview former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr this month to gauge whether a complex conspiracy against Donald Trump existed among Hillary Clinton loyalists and the Justice Department.

“DOJ official Bruce Ohr will come before Congress on August 28 to answer why he had 60+contacts with dossier author Chris Steele as far back as January 2016. He owes the American public the full truth,” tweeted Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

His panel and the House Judiciary Committee plan to hold a joint hearing to interview Mr. Ohr, according to The Daily Caller.

FBI documents show that the bureau bluntly told dossier writer Christopher Steele in November 2016 that it no longer wanted to hear about his collection of accusations against Mr. Trump.

But for months afterward, the FBI appeared to violate its own edict as agents continued to receive the former British spy’s scandalous charges centered on supposed TrumpRussia collusion.


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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant



Authored by Philip Giraldi via American Herald Tribune:

There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

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Is This The Most Important Geopolitical Deal Of 2018?

After more than 20 years of fraught diplomatic efforts, the five littoral Caspian nations agreed upon a legal framework for sharing the world’s largest inland body of water.

The Duran



Authored by Olgu Okumus via

The two-decade-long dispute on the statute of the Caspian Sea, the world largest water reserve, came to an end last Sunday when five littoral states (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) agreed to give it a special legal status – it is now neither a sea, nor a lake. Before the final agreement became public, the BBC wrote that all littoral states will have the freedom of access beyond their territorial waters, but natural resources will be divided up. Russia, for its part, has guaranteed a military presence in the entire basin and won’t accept any NATO forces in the Caspian.

Russian energy companies can explore the Caspian’s 50 billion barrels of oil and its 8.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan can finally start considering linking its gas to the Turkish-Azeri joint project TANAP through a trans-Caspian pipeline, while Iran has gained increased energy supplies for its largest cities in the north of the country (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) – however, Iran has also put itself under the shadow of Russian ships. This controversy makes one wonder to what degree U.S. sanctions made Iran vulnerable enough to accept what it has always avoided – and how much these U.S. sanctions actually served NATO’s interests.

If the seabed, rich in oil and gas, is divided this means more wealth and energy for the region. From 1970 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, the Caspian Sea was divided into subsectors for Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – all constituent republics of the USSR. The division was implemented on the basis of the internationally-accepted median line.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new order required new regulations. The question was over whether the Caspian was a sea or a lake? If it was treated as a sea, then it would have to be covered by international maritime law, namely the United Nations Law of the Sea. But if it is defined as a lake, then it could be divided equally between all five countries. The so-called “lake or sea” dispute revolved over the sovereignty of states, but also touched on some key global issues – exploiting oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Basin, freedom of access, the right to build beyond territorial waters, access to fishing and (last but not least) managing maritime pollution.

The IEA concluded in World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2017 that offshore energy has a promising future. More than a quarter of today’s oil and gas supply is produced offshore, and integrated offshore thinking will extend this beyond traditional sources onwards to renewables and more. Caspian offshore hydrocarbon reserves are around 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent (equivalent to one third of Iraq’s total oil reserves) and 8.4 trillion cubic meters of gas (almost equivalent to the U.S.’ entire proven gas reserves). As if these quantities were not themselves enough to rebalance Eurasian energy demand equations, the agreement will also allow Turkmenistan to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline, connecting Turkmenistan’s resources to the Azeri-Turkish joint project TANAP, and onwards to Europe – this could easily become a counter-balance factor to the growing LNG business in Europe.

Even though we still don’t have firm and total details on the agreement, Iran seems to have gained much less than its neighbors, as it has shortest border on the Caspian. From an energy perspective, Iran would be a natural market for the Caspian basin’s oil and gas, as Iran’s major cities (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) are closer to the Caspian than they are to Iran’s major oil and gas fields. Purchasing energy from the Caspian would also allow Iran to export more of its own oil and gas, making the country a transit route from the Caspian basin to world markets. For instance, for Turkmenistan (who would like to sell gas to Pakistan) Iran provides a convenient geography. Iran could earn fees for swap arrangements or for providing a transit route and justify its trade with Turkey and Turkmenistan as the swap deal is allowed under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA, or the D’Amato Act).

If the surface water will be in common usage, all littoral states will have access beyond their territorial waters. In practical terms, this represents an increasingly engaged Russian presence in the Basin. It also reduces any room for a NATO presence, as it seems to be understood that only the five littoral states will have a right to military presence in the Caspian. Considering the fact that Russia has already used its warships in the Caspian to launch missile attacks on targets within Syria, this increased Russian presence could potentially turn into a security threat for Iran.

Many questions can now be asked on what Tehran might have received in the swap but one piece of evidence for what might have pushed Iran into agreement in its vulnerable position in the face of increased U.S. sanctions. Given that the result of those sanctions seems to be Iran agreeing to a Caspian deal that allows Russia to place warships on its borders, remove NATO from the Caspian basin equation, and increase non-Western based energy supplies (themselves either directly or indirectly within Russia’s sphere of geopolitical influence) it makes one wonder whose interests those sanctions actually served?

By Olgu Okumus for

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