Opposition researcher dined with key Russian before, after Trump Tower meeting

by WorldTribune Staff, August 14, 2018

A meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin is a cornerstone in claims that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. It may also have been a trap set for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a report said.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, left, and Glenn Simpson

The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had met with opposition researcher Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS for dinner on the nights both before and after the Trump Tower meeting, according to a report by RealClearInvestigations.

In Senate testimony last year, Simpson had claimed he had no knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and others until it was reported a year later.

Veselnitskaya, however, has publicly stated that she used talking points developed by Simpson for the Russian government in the meeting, the report said.

Simpson also testified that he had dinner with Veselnitskaya the night before the meeting and the night after.

Veselnitskaya hired Simpson in spring 2014 for work that lasted, according to Simpson’s Senate testimony, until “mid to late 2016.”

Emails, texts, and memos recently turned over to Congress by the Department of Justice show that senior DOJ officials and the FBI worked closely with employees of Fusion GPS, a which was paid $1 million by Hillary Clinton operatives to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign, the report said.

Documents also show that then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr coordinated before, during and after the election with Simpson and Steele.

RealClearInvestigations noted a “line of evidence” which re-framed the Trump Tower meeting shows that, starting in March 2016, “FBI confidential sources and other figures associated with Western intelligence services and the Clinton campaign approached the Trump team promising damaging information on Clinton. The Trump Tower meeting appears to have been the most successful of these approaches since it was the one instance where the Trump campaign signaled it was willing to receive incriminating information on its opponent.”

Congressional Republicans are pushing back on the interpretation of the meeting as evidence of Trump collusion with Russia, saying that the meeting shows the collusion is between Russia and the Clinton campaign.

“Simpson approached the Clinton campaign through its law firm and said he could dig up dirt on Trump and Russia,” said one congressional investigator. “The difference between the Trump and Clinton campaigns’ willingness to take dirt on its opponent is that the Clintons went through with it and paid for it. While their source, Glenn Simpson, was working for a Russian oligarch.”

RealClearInvestigations noted that “a lingering mystery” of the Trump Tower meeting is the man who helped arrange it, British music publicist Rob Goldstone.

On June 3, Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr. with an offer originating in a meeting in the office of the prosecutor general – Veslenitskaya’s point of contact with the Kremlin. Goldstone promised, “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

Trump Jr. promptly responded: “If it’s what you say I love it.”

The specificity of the phrasing in Goldstone’s email appears designed to establish the case for collusion: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Goldstone, who has kept a low profile since news of the meeting broke in July 2017, testified before Congress that he now regrets his part in the meeting.

According to the Steele dossier, Trump himself as well as aides Paul Manafort and Carter Page were in clandestine contact with the Russian government. “If that was really the case,” former FBI agent Mark Wauck told RealClearInvestigtions, “it’s not clear why the Russian government needed a British music publicist to make an overture. And why would Moscow need to send a Russian lawyer who didn’t speak English to Trump Tower? That tends to confirm that the meeting was intended as a setup.”

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