As is now becoming the way as the Russiagate scandal unravels, confirmation of the collapse of one of its central pillars – the claim of proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign which some have claimed to see in the meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 between the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior – has slipped out in the most covert way possible.
Nonetheless the confirmation is there and originates in what all the indications suggest is a deliberate leak either from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team or from the White House’s legal team.
The confirmation is provided in an NBC News article which reads as follows
Two sources familiar with the questions Mueller’s team have been asking about the meeting say the investigators are most interested in why the president crafted a misleading statement about the meeting much later, in July 2017, after a New York Times report about it. The sources say Mueller’s office is trying to confirm every detail it can about the meeting.
Mueller’s team is less interested in the meeting as a direct example of collusion, the sources said, although Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after being told he would receive incriminating information about Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government effort to help his father.
No evidence has emerged publicly to contradict Veselnitskaya’s account that she wanted to press a case about U.S. Magnitsky Act sanctions, and that she did not possess significant derogatory information about Clinton, despite the email from a music promoter to Trump Jr. promising incriminating details about the Democrat.
Moreover, no evidence has emerged publicly that connects the Russians in the meeting with the Russian intelligence effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
The issue of Donald Trump’s supposedly misleading statement about the meeting is a red herring since it can have no possible connection to the collusion allegations which Mueller’s inquiry is supposed to be investigating.
Even assuming that Trump’s statement was misleading – which some might question – it would hardly be the first case of a US President making a misleading statement, and it is impossible to see how it can possibly give rise to a law enforcement issue for Mueller to investigate.
Of much more importance is the confirmation that Mueller’s team now acknowledge that there is no evidence to connect Veselnitskaya to Russian intelligence and that her and Donald Trump Junior’s accounts of their meeting must be accepted as true since there is no evidence to contradict them.
In truth this was obvious from the start as I pointed out in an article I wrote on 12th July 2017, written immediately after details of the meeting came to light
The meeting with Veselnitskaya duly took place on 9th June 2016. It turned out that she had no information about Hillary Clinton to offer and was not a “Russian government attorney”. Instead she wanted to discuss the Magnitsky Act, upon which a baffled Donald Trump Junior politely showed her the door.
That is the unanimous account of all the participants of the meeting including Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya herself. All agree that the meeting lasted no more than 20 minutes.
There is no evidence that contradicts their account and the absence of any follow-up to the meeting essentially corroborates their account.
It seems that Donald Trump Junior and Veselnitskaya have never met since and have had no further contact with each other.
There is no evidence here of any crime or wrongdoing being committed or – contrary to what many are saying – of any intention to commit one.
Russiagate would not however be Russiagate if this important news that Mueller and his team have come to the same conclusion was not smuggled out in an NBC News article whose title gives the impression that it is about the totally meaningless fact that Veselnitskaya after leaving the meeting with Donald Trump Junior had a brief encounter in the lift of Trump Tower with a blonde woman who might – or might not – have been Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
To such ridiculous lengths to conceal embarrassing truths about Russiagate is the media in the US increasingly reduced to.
Though the Veselnitskaya-Trump Junior meeting is now being finally acknowledged to be the red herring it always was, there is one further point about it to make.
In my 12th July 2017 article I speculated that the meeting might have been a sting intended to corroborate the collusion allegations between the Trump campaign and Russia which were to achieve written form in the first 20th June 2016 entry of the Trump Dossier, written a few weeks after the Veselnitskaya-Trump Junior took place.
What led others subsequently to speculate along the same lines was that there appeared to be a connection between Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS, the political consultancy firm which commissioned the Trump Dossier on behalf of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Glenn Simpson’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee should put all this speculation to rest.
It turns out that Veselnitskaya was not working for Fusion GPS but rather Fusion GPS was working for her, in connection with her work on the Magnitsky case.
That in itself makes it inherently unlikely that she was acting as a catspaw for Fusion GPS when she met Donald Trump Junior.
More to the point, Glenn Simpson’s comments about Veselnitskaya are anything but complimentary. He basically describes her – rather convincingly – as a self-important busybody and a minor league player, and expresses incredulity at the suggestion that she was a Russian intelligence agent who was working for the Kremlin.
Simpson’s characterisation of Veselnitskaya in testimony in which he strongly promotes the Russiagate collusion allegations and vouches for the truth of the Trump Dossier makes it all but inconceivable Veselnitskaya was involved in a sting to set Trump Junior up.
Despite taking place at a time when the Trump-Russia collusion allegations were about to take off, Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Trump Junior must instead be seen as one of those annoying coincidences which lawyers, journalists, policemen and the public automatically distrust, but which happen in real life.