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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

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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.

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Why are Russian Tu-160 Nuclear Bombers in Venezuela? (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 40.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at Russia’s military cooperation with Venezuela, and how this military partnership leaves neocons in Washington crying ‘Russian aggression’.

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Via Press TV


A pair of Tu-160 bombers, known as Blackjack”, landed in Caracas on Monday following a 6,200-mile flight, which is said to be aimed at showcasing Moscow’s growing military prowess and shoring up the position of Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro.

The planes touched down at the Simón Bolívar international airport as part of a larger fleet also including an An-124 military transport plane and an Il-62 passenger jet

The Russian defense ministry said the bombers were shadowed by Norwegian F-18 fighter jets during part of their flight.

Venezuela’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, said the arrival of the aircraft for joint maneuvers was not intended as a provocation. “We are makers of peace, not war,” he was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster Venezolana de Televisión (VTV).

Russia’s ambassador in Caracas, Vladimir Zaemskiy, told VTV the deployment reflected the “very fruitful” military partnership that had developed since the relationship was forged by Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chávez in 2005.

However, specialists say the move is designed to signal to Washington that Caracas is not without international support.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at last week’s meeting with Lopez that Russia would continue to send its military aircraft and warships to visit Venezuela as part of bilateral military cooperation.

Russia sent its Tu-160 strategic bombers and a missile cruiser to visit Venezuela in 2008 amid tensions with the US after Russia’s brief war with Georgia. A pair of Tu-160s also visited Venezuela in 2013.

Russia-US relations are currently at post-Cold War lows over Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Russia has bristled at the US and other NATO allies deploying their troops and weapons near its borders.

Asked about the Russian bombers, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said he had no specific information about the deployment.

The bombers’ deployment follows Venezuelan President Maduro’s visit to Moscow last week in a bid to shore up political and economic assistance even as his country has been struggling to pay billions of dollars owed to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday voiced support for Venezuelan leader, telling him, “We support your efforts to achieve mutual understanding in society and all your actions aimed at normalizing relations with the opposition.”

Russia is a major political ally of Venezuela, which has become increasingly isolated in the world under growing sanctions led by the US and the European Union, which accuse Maduro of undermining democratic institutions to hold onto power, while overseeing an economic and political crisis that is worse than the Great Depression.

Hit by low oil prices and the impact of US sanctions, Maduro is seeking support from allies after winning a second presidential term this year.

Maduro, who took over following the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, has come under strong pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration.

After talks last year between Maduro and Putin, Russia, Venezuela’s major creditor, agreed to restructure $3.15 billion of debt from a loan taken out by Caracas in 2011 to finance the purchase of Russian arms.

Russia and Venezuela enjoy a long history of ties and Maduro’s predecessor Chavez, known for his passionate tirades against the United States, was a welcome guest at the Kremlin.

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America’s wars are against American’s interests

War is a racket

Richard Galustian

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To advocate wars are good is insane!

For one, Afghanistan is about a ridiculously flawed US government foreign policy. it is not about ‘winning’ a war as Erik Prince describes in his video.

There is no reason for the US to be in Afghanistan.

Something Mr. Prince seems to fail to understand the reader can judge by watching Prince’s presentation promoting war.

That said, what Erik Prince explains about the military industrial complex is correct. Weapons purchases must be curtailed.

However more importantly, what he fails to say is America must stop its ‘’regime change policy’ and avoid future wars, is the real issue.

To provoke war for example with Russia or China is absolute insanity producing eventually only nuclear armageddon, the consequence is the destruction of the planet.

Trillions of dollars should not be spent (and wasted) by the Pentagon but that money should be used to build America’s roads; expand railways; build hospitals and schools, etc.

Especially also to pay much needed disability benefits to disabled vets who wasted their lives in past pointless wars from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq et al. Americans soldiers need to ‘go home’.

Withdrawing its unnecessary US bases worldwide; a left over outdated idea from the end of WW11, such as America’s military presence in Korea, Japan, Germany; the Persian Gulf, even in the UK.

Foreign military interventions are adventures pursued by ‘elites’ interests, ‘using’ NATO in most cases, as its tool, only for their (the elites) profit at the expense of ordinary people.

“War is a Racket” to quote the much decorated hero and patriot, US Marine, Major General Smedley Butler.

We can learn from history to understand America’s current predicament.

Brown Brothers Harriman in New York in the 1930s financed Hitler and Mussolini right up to the day war was declared by Roosevelt following the attack on Pearl Harbour.

A little taught fact in America’s colleges and ivy league universities is that Wall Street bankers (with a degree of assistance from the Bush family by the way) at the time had decided that a fascist dictatorship in the United States would be far better for their business interests than Roosevelt’s “new deal” which threatened massive wealth re-distribution to recapitalize the working and middle class of America and build America’s infrastructure.

So the Wall Street bankers recruited the much respected General Smedley Butler to lead an overthrow of the us government and install a “Secretary of General Affairs” who would be answerable to Wall Street, not the people; who would crush social unrest and shut down all labour unions. however General Smedley Butler only pretended to go along with the scheme, then exposed the plot. The General played the traitors along to gather evidence for congress and the president. When Roosevelt learned of the planned coup, he initially demanded the arrest of the plotters but this never happened because Roosevelt was in effect blackmailed by those same US bankers; another story!

Read the words of Major General Smedley Butler who explains what exactly happened.

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service as a member of our country’s most agile military force — the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to major general. and during that period I spent more of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for wall street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. “I suspected I was just a part of a racket at the time. now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession, I never had an original thought until I left the service. my mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the national city bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of wall street. the record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that the standard oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals and promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. the best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. I operated on three continents.” —

General Smedley Butler, former US Marine Corps Commandant, 1935.

We need peace not wars.

We need infrastructure building in America and Europe……not wars.

Somebody should explain this to Mr. Prince, and perhaps to his sister too…..who happens to be part of President Trump’s administration!

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Theresa May goes to Brussels and comes back with a big fat donut (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 39.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Theresa May’s trip to Brussels to try and win some concessions from EU oligarchs, only to get completely rebuked and ridiculed, leaving EU headquarters with nothing but a four page document essentially telling the UK to get its act together or face a hard Brexit.

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Via Zerohedge


Any confidence boost that might have followed Theresa May’s triumph this week over her party’s implacable Brexiteers has probably already faded. Because if there was anything to be learned from the stunning rebuke delivered to the prime minister by EU leaders on Thursday, it’s that the prime minister is looking more stuck than ever.

This was evidenced by the frosty confrontation between the imperturbable May and her chief Continental antagonist, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, which was caught on film on Friday shortly before the close of a two-day European Council summit that descended into bitter recriminations. After offering token praise of May’s leadership, Brussels’ supreme bureaucrat criticized her negotiating strategy as “disorganized”, provoking a heated response from May.

Earlier, May desperately pleaded with her European colleagues – who had adamantly insisted that the text of the withdrawal agreement would not be altered – to grant her “legally binding assurances” May believes would make the Brexit plan palatable enough to win a slim victory in the Commons.

If there were any lingering doubts about the EU’s position, they were swiftly dispelled by a striking gesture of contempt for May: Demonstrating the Continent’s indifference to her plight, the final text of the summit’s conclusions was altered to remove a suggestion that the EU consider what further assurances can be offered to May, while leaving in a resolution to continue contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit.

Even the Irish, who in the recent past have been sympathetic to their neighbors’ plight (in part due to fears about a resurgence of insurrectionary violence should a hard border re-emerge between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), implied that there patience had reached its breaking point.

Here’s the FT:

But Leo Varadkar, the Irish premier, warned that the EU could not tolerate a treaty approval process where a country “comes back every couple of weeks following discussions with their parliament looking for something extra…you can’t operate international relations on this basis.”

Senior EU officials are resisting further negotiations — and suggestions of a special Brexit summit next month — because they see Britain’s requests as in effect a bid to rewrite the exit treaty.

Mr Varadkar noted that many prime ministers had been called to Brussels “at short notice” for a special Brexit summit “on a Sunday in November,” adding: “I don’t think they would be willing to come to Brussels again unless we really have to.”

In response, May threatened to hold a vote on the Brexit plan before Christmas, which would almost certainly result in its defeat, scrapping the fruits of more than a year of contentious negotiations.

Given that Mrs May aborted a Commons vote on her deal this week because she feared defeat by a “significant margin,” her comments amounted to a threat that she would let MPs kill the withdrawal agreement before Christmas.

Mrs May made the threat to German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and EU presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk as the two day Brussels summit descended into acrimony, according to diplomats.

“At the point where there is no prospect of getting anything more from the EU, that’s when you would have to put the vote,” said one close aide to Mrs May.

If this week has taught May anything, it’s that her plan to pressure the EU into more concessions (her preferred option to help her pass the Brexit plan) was an unmitigated failure. And given that running out the clock and hoping that MPs come around at the last minute (when the options truly have been reduced to ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’) leaves too much room for market-rattling uncertainty, May is left with a few options, two of which were previously ‘off the table’ (though she has distanced herself from those positions in recent weeks).

They are: Calling a second referendum, delaying a Brexit vote, pivoting to a softer ‘Plan B’ Brexit, or accepting a ‘no deal’ Brexit. As the BBC reminds us, May is obliged by law to put her deal to a vote by Jan. 21, or go to Parliament with a Plan B.

If May does decide to run down the clock, she will have two last-minute options:

On the one hand she could somehow cancel, delay, soften or hold another referendum on Brexit and risk alienating the 17.4 million people who voted Leave.

But on the other hand, she could go for a so-called Hard Brexit (where few of the existing ties between the UK and the EU are retained) and risk causing untold damage to the UK’s economy and standing in the world for years to come.

Alternatively, May could accept the fact that convincing the Brexiteers is a lost cause, and try to rally support among Labour MPs for a ‘softer’ Brexit plan, one that would more countenance closer ties with the EU during the transition, and ultimately set the stage for a closer relationship that could see the UK remain part of the customs union and single market. Conservatives are also increasingly pushing for a ‘Plan B’ deal that would effectively set the terms for a Norway- or Canada-style trade deal (and this strategy isn’t without risk, as any deal accepted by Parliament would still require approval from the EU).

But as JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank anticipated last week, a second referendum (which supporters have nicknamed a “People’s Vote”) is becoming increasingly popular, even among MPs who supported the ‘Leave’ campaign, according to Bloomberg.

It’s not the only previously unthinkable idea that May has talked about this week. Fighting off a challenge to her leadership from pro-Brexit Conservative members of Parliament, the premier warned that deposing her would mean delaying Britain’s departure from the European Union. That’s not something she admitted was possible last month.

The argument for a second referendum advanced by one minister was simple: If nothing can get through Parliament — and it looks like nothing can — the question needs to go back to voters.

While campaigners for a second vote have mostly been those who want to reverse the result of the last one and keep Britain inside the EU, that’s not the reason a lot of new supporters are coming round to the idea.

One Cabinet minister said this week he wanted a second referendum on the table to make clear to Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party that the alternative to May’s deal is no Brexit at all.

Even former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is urging his supporters to be ready for a second referendum:

Speaking at rally in London, Press Association quoted Farage as saying: “My message folks tonight is as much as I don’t want a second referendum it would be wrong of us on a Leave Means Leave platform not to get ready, not to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.”

Putting pressure on Brexiteers is also the reason there’s more talk of delaying the U.K.’s departure. At the moment, many Brexit-backers are talking openly about running down the clock to March so they can get the hard Brexit they want. Extending the process — which is easier than many appreciate — takes that strategy off the table.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has continued to call for May to put her deal to a vote principally because its defeat is a necessary precursor for another referendum (or a no-confidence vote pushed by an alliance between Labour, and some combination of rebel Tories, the SNP and the DUP).

“The last 24 hours have shown that Theresa May’s Brexit deal is dead in the water,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “She’s failed to deliver any meaningful changes. Rather than ploughing ahead and recklessly running down the clock, she needs to put her deal to a vote next week so Parliament can take back control.”

The upshot is that the Brexit trainwreck, which has been stuck at an impasse for months, could finally see some meaningful movement in the coming weeks. Which means its a good time to bring back this handy chart illustrating the many different outcomes that could arise:

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