Trump Junior and the Russians

Donald Trump Jr,. Wikipedia

Analysis by Reporting San Diego

July 11, 2017 (San Diego) There are moments in the life of a scandal when it enters a new phase. The Trump White House has now crossed an important line. The apparent collusion with elements associated with the Russian government now include the son of the President. 

It is not that Donald Trump Jr went fishing for dirt on Hillary Clinton that is a problem. This is American politics, and Oppo research is part of the game. It is where and with whom Trump Junior did this. 

According to the bombshell report from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Now think carefully about this one. Trump Junior was willing to meet with a kremlin proxy in order to get that dirt. As we said, dirt, politics, and policial races are as American as apple pie, but in this case it contains a dollop of Borsht. 

This meeting, according to the Times, happened, a week before Wikileaks released thousands of damaging emails from the Democratic National Committee server. 

The cast of characters during the meeting is utterly familiar, Paul Manafort, the campaign manager at the time, and the president’s son in law, Jared Kushner were there as well. While this was at first treated a a “nothingburger,” it is a critical moment. Now we know that these contacts with at the very least agents of the Russian state, are now within the family. It is not just the son in law, but the son of the President. This is the same son who has been tweeting attacks on CNN in particular. 

This also marks an acceleration in the process. It also marks the moment when the scandal is getting closer to the president. 

The motive for the Russian intervention is also becoming far clearer. It was not about the oil and Rossneff, but it is about the sanctions that have hurt the Russian economy. In this case the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress in 2012 to punish the Russian state for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who uncovered tax fraud affecting Russian Kleptocrats. He died in prison after he was tried in a kangaroo court. 

Trump Junior had this to say about the meeting:

In a statement on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.” He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children. “It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Mr. Trump said.

Now let this one sink in. It is not funny. However, it is clear that the Trumps have contacts with Russians, and this is not new. Russian elites have invested a lot of money in Trump properties over the years. Reuters found this:

But in the United States, members of the Russian elite have invested in Trump buildings. A Reuters review has found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.

The buyers include politically connected businessmen, such as a former executive in a Moscow-based state-run construction firm that works on military and intelligence facilities, the founder of a St. Petersburg investment bank and the co-founder of a conglomerate with interests in banking, property and electronics.
People from the second and third tiers of Russian power have invested in the Trump buildings as well. One recently posted a photo of himself with the leader of a Russian motorcycle gang that was sanctioned by the United States for its alleged role in Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

The Trumps also have had links to the Russian mafia, according to USA Today. They write:

Trump’s Russian connections are of heightened interest because of an FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives to interfere in last fall’s election. What’s more, Trump and his companies have had business dealings with Russians that go back decades, raising questions about whether his policies would be influenced by business considerations.

So it should come as no surprise that the son of the president continued some of these contacts in some ways. So what we are starting to see, in between the shadows, is a family that will do anything for power and who has something to fear from somebody in Russia. Whether this is Kompromat, in the classic sense, or just the mob is a good question. However, this is a rather complex onion, and we are just starting to look into the outer layers. 

This is how scandals build up. This is how they grow, We have a lot of smoke columns. It is a good question when those smoke columns will become an outright wild fire. We might be getting close. 
In a slight update, according to Reuters, Trump Junior has now retained Alan Futerfas, who specializes in criminal defense, 

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