Mueller Report gets Trump Tower Meeting all wrong; Ignores facts and promotes the Browder Hoax

Consortium News
July 3, 2019

Natalia Veselnitskaya didn‘t have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and when the Russian lawyer met with Trump‘s people her focus was not on the 2016 campaign.

By Lucy Komisar

A “key event” described in the Mueller Report is the Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer met with the president‘s son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Russiagaters have been obsessed with the meeting, saying it was the smoking gun to prove collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election. Months after Mueller concluded that there was no collusion at all, the obsession has switched to “obstruction of justice,” which is like someone being apprehended for resisting arrest without committing any other crime.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump team members in Trump Tower, and in background her interpreter, Anatoli Samochornov, who was also at the meeting. (photo Lucy Komisar)

The Mueller report thus focuses instead on “efforts to prevent disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and senior campaign officials.”

But the report on this topic is deceptive. Ironically, as it attacks Donald Trump and top campaign officials for lying, the report itself lies about the issue the meeting addressed.

It wasn‘t to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, which the Russian lawyer did not have and never produced. That was a ploy by Robert Goldstone, a British music publicist whose job is to get what his clients want, in this case, a meeting. So, recklessly, he invented the idea of Clinton dirt as a bait-and-switch to get Trump‘s people to come to it. He got the lawyer the meeting for her to lobby a potentially incoming administration against the Magnitsky Act, which is why she was in the United States in the first place.

The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 U.S. law that was promoted by William Browder, an American-born British citizen and hedge fund investor, who claimed his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky had been imprisoned and murdered because he uncovered a scheme by Russian officials to steal $230 million from the Russian Treasury. It sanctioned Russians he said were involved or benefitted from Magnitsky‘s death. It has since been used by the U.S. to put sanctions on other Russians and nationals from other countries.

The lawyer lobbying against the act, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort that Browder‘s story was fake, a smokescreen to block the Russians from going after him for multi-millions in tax evasion. She argued the Magnitsky Act was built on this fraud. Manafort‘s notes, included in the Mueller Report, trace what she said.

Nothing Illegal

The Trump people did nothing illegal to meet with her. Their problem was the exaggerating communications Goldstone sent them about Veselnitskaya having “dirt” on Clinton. (While U.S. election laws says it‘s illegal for a campaign to receive “a thing of value” from a foreign source, it‘s never been established by a court that opposition research fits that description, the Mueller Report admits. ) Veselnitskaya testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in November 2017 that Browder‘s major American client, the Ziff brothers, had cheated on American and Russian taxes and contributed the “dirty money” to the Democrats.

The Mueller investigators appear not to have looked into her charges. The report promotes Browder‘s fabrications, citing “the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.”

Magnitsky‘s mother in Nekrasov film.

But instead of his “lawyer” Magnitsky exposing Russian fraud, for which he was jailed and killed in prison, Magnitsky was actually Browder‘s accountant who was detained under investigation for his part in Browder‘s tax evasion and died of natural causes in prison, as Magnitsky‘s own mother admits to filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov in the film “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.”

Mueller‘s investigators might have started with documents filed in U.S. federal court in the case of Veselnitskaya‘s client, Prevezon, a Russian holding company that settled a civil-forfeiture claim by the U.S. government that linked it, without proof, to the tax fraud.

The documents include a deposition where Browder admits that the alleged “lawyer” Magnitsky did not go to law school nor have a law degree. Magnitsky‘s own testimony file identifies him as an “auditor.”

Why does that matter? Because it was Browder‘s red herring. Magnitsky had worked as Browder‘s accountant since 1997, fiddling on Browder‘s taxes on profits from sales of shares held by Russian shell companies run by his Hermitage Fund. He was not an attorney hired in 2007 to investigate and then expose a tax fraud against the Russian Treasury.

That fraud was exposed by Rimma Starova, the Russian nominee director of a British Virgin Islands shell company that held Hermitage‘s reregistered companies and who gave testimony to Russian police on April 9 and July 10, 2008. It was reported by The New York Times and  Vedomosti on July 24, 2008, months before Magnitsky mentioned it in an Oct. 7 interrogation.


The Mueller Report says Veselnitskaya promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government support for Trump.”  Two days before the meeting, Goldstone emailed Trump Jr. and said “the Russian government attorney” was flying in from Moscow. She had not been a government attorney since 2001, 15 years earlier.

Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. (Jorge L¡scar, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I interviewed Veselnitskaya in New York in November 2016. She explained what she later told the Trump group, that Browder‘s clients the Ziff Brothers had invested in Russian shares in a way that routed the money through loans so that they could evade U.S. taxes. [“Not invest – loans” in Manafort‘s notes.]

The report says, “Natalia Veselnitskaya had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time.” Later it says that from 1998 to 2001, she had worked as a prosecutor for the “Central Administrative District” of the Russian Prosecutor‘s office. “And continued to perform government-related work and maintain ties to the Russian government following her departure.” We are meant to presume, with no evidence, as the media does – that means “a Kremlin-connected lawyer.”

When Trump Jr asked for evidence, how the payments could be tied to the Clinton campaign, she said she couldn‘t trace them, according to the Mueller Report. 

Then she turned to the Magnitsky Act. The report repeats earlier fakery: “She lobbied and testified about the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.” Magnitsky did not expose a fraud. Rimma Starova did.

A footnote in the report said: “Browder hired Magnitsky to investigate tax fraud by Russian officials, and Magnitsky was charged with helping Browder embezzle money.” Browder did not hire Magnitsky to investigate the fraud. Magnitsky had been the accountant in charge of Hermitage since 1997, 10 years before the fraud.  Embezzlement refers to Browder shifting assets out of Russia without paying taxes.

But the investigation‘s focus was not on Browder‘s fakery ” the substance of the Trump Tower meeting ” but on the communications organizing the event. The section on obstruction says Trump became aware of “emails setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians who offered derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as ˜part of Russia and its government‘s support for Mr. Trump.‘”

That would have been Goldstone‘s inflated promises.

The report says “at the meeting the Russian attorney claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.” Trump Jr. told a White House press officer that “they started with some Hillary thing, which was bs and some other nonsense, which we shot down fast.”

As Veselnitskaya told me, she knew the Ziffs made contributions to Democrats. She probably started with that. Manafort‘s notes don‘t report a “Hillary thing,” but are about Browder and the Ziffs.

On the issue of Browder, the Magnitsky story and the essence of the Trump Tower meeting, the Mueller Report is a deception intended to keep the myth of collusion in the air while dismissing that any collusion took place. 

Mueller Report deals with Browder and Trump Tower mostly in Part I, pages 110-123, and Part II, pages 98-107.

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5 Responses to "Mueller Report gets Trump Tower Meeting all wrong; Ignores facts and promotes the Browder Hoax"

  1. Sonia Plutzik-Baker   Jul 17, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    The premise of the Trump Tower meeting was dirt on Hillary Clinton AND help to Trump’s campaign from the Russian government to win the election. That was the basis of Don Jr accepting the meeting, that was why he agreed to it and that is why he added Manafort and Kushner as participants. There is nothing that can contravene that truth.

    There is undeniable proof of the offer and undeniable proof of the acceptance and undeniable proof of the follow up action by Trump, Manafort and Kushner.

    **NO. WRONG That is what the Trump people thought. It is NOT what Veselnitskaya offered. Publicist Goldstone admitted he made that up to get the meeting. Which means “the Russians” did not make that offer. That contravenes your “truth.” Where is your evidence that the Russian government was seeking the Trump Tower meeting?

    The act of Kushner, who reports Veselnitskaya said she could not prove her accusations that Russian money was given to the Clintons and that she did not know where the money she was referencing actually went, when he directly asked for it, immediately resulted in Kushner losing interest in any further discussion or participation in the meeting, even though it moved into a discussion that included a money laundering suit in a real estate deal in Manhattan, his own turf.

    **NO. HE thought he would be getting dirt. HER information was about the Ziff Brothers not paying Russian or US taxes and then contributing to the Democrats, which she took to mean Hillary, but had no proof about. Again, that contradicts the claim that “the Russians” were offering dirt on Hillary. Don’t you think that if it was really “the Russians,” ie the Russian government, with every big power’s ways of spying, they would have come up with real “dirt”? Not “the Ziffs didn’t pay taxes”?

    Once he figured out he had no way to use the “dirt” he was given, he left and by reports the interest of Don Jr and Manafort also quickly evaporated.

    ** Obviously. All campaigns do and want opposition research. Is that illegal? Should it be? Should candidates be banned from saying bad things about their rivals? Again, what the Trump people wanted and what Veselnitskaya offered were totally different.

    Attempting to persuade the meeting was not premised on dirt from Russians and other unnamed help from the Russian government is ludicrous. The Trump campaign expected what they were promised. That is why they were there. That is what they must be judged on.

    ** The Trump people wanted it but it was a fake offer by Goldstone. Whose fault is that? If the Trump people were fools to believe there would be dirt (and Goldstone never said it was from the Russian government) should that be some sort of violation? Let’s ban opposition research.

    ** Sorry, your Russophobic ideology gets in the way of the facts. It’s reaching to invent a Russian government plot when there is no evidence of one. Or to blame the Trump people for doing what campaigns have done for years.

  2. Sid P-Oman   Jul 20, 2019 at 2:09 am

    The material point is still the same. The offer at the time was clearly made in very specific terms. The original wordings were the premise. Goldstone used the word “government” in his emails. He used the phrase “dirt on Clinton”.

    It really does not matter if Goldstone believed what he offered would actually take place. He offered it. He offered it acknowledging it was “sensitive”. Trump, Kushner and Manafort believed it enough to open the door. They were not contracting with a valid op research business when they responded to the invitation. They knew that this source was different. They were arrogant enough to play with the dark side and got caught and when caught did the biggest, most stupid act of all: They determined to cover it up. And they were caught in that also.

    To use Goldstone’s questionable confessions when the meeting became public, when the original damning emails became available to the public, is to adopt a deliberate blindness.

    Goldstone did not mention Russian orphans. He did not mention Magnitski sanctions. In fact the onerous sanctions and travel restrictions applied to Russian oligarchs, criminals and indicted Russian intelligence officers, and to Veselnitskaya herself, were not even created at the time. The Obama Administration and the Mueller Investigation had yet to take action and form. But none of that matters.

    What was said and done at the time is what matters, not what they and you are trying to morph the original crime into. This was a deliberate invitation to dance and all 3 campaign leaders and possibly Trump himself, knew exactly what they were doing.

    Why pretend the Trump campaign was just after op research? Op research is done by businesses, as Veselnitskaya is quite aware.

    Nothing can change what we learn when we are guided by what people said and did at the time a crime took place. Trying to rewrite that truth is contrary to meritorious investigative reporting. There is no glory in re-writing original history to satisfy a narrative that is based on putting on blinders. Why do it?

    LK: Agree the Trump people were snookered. Don’t see how that is a crime. Campaigns get such offers of info against their opponents more routinely than we know. And who says it’s only done by businesses? It’s done by anyone or group with an interest. And, BTW, the Russian government — supposedly the whole point of Mueller caring about any of this — had nothing to do with it. It’s a fake issue.

  3. Josh V   Sep 1, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Anyone who has dealt with sales people trying to get a meeting with you or your boss, knows this type of tactic employed by Goldstone. It’s also the quickest way to turn your prospective audience off from your sales pitch, and that’s what it obviously did. It testifies of little knowledge of legal culpability that these commenters think there was something wrong by just agreeing to a meeting. I applaud Lucy for exposing these things time and again.
    In the case of Russiagate and the entire Browder story, it is clear, also from the two comments above, that there is little hope of Trump opposition to see things clearly and separate facts from fiction – and hence unfortunately I see less and less likelihood that such a sorry excuse for a president can be defeated.
    Your type of investigations are exceedingly rare but so needed. Financial fraud isn’t easy to explain in a few sentences, and so doesn’t lend itself to one-liners – which is what mainstream media have reduced themselves to.

  4. Brett Harris   Oct 16, 2019 at 2:33 am

    The question never asked is why did Goldstone mention Hillary, and use the same word “dirt” that Papadopoulos attributed to Joseph Mifsud. Neither Goldstone’s now former client Emin Agalarov or Natalia Vesenitskaya ever mentioned dirt on Hillary. What is missing here?

    Instead of blaming “the Kremlin”, if the media was doing its job and reporting the legal tactics of Bill Browder in the Prevezon Case, evading three subpoenas, refusing to testify, when in fact he provided every piece of evidence accusing Denis Katsyv of money laundering, to the US Attorney Preet Bharara, who never checked anything beyond Browder or Browder associated organisations such as the OCCRP. When he was finally deposed, his entire Magnitsky Story was shown to be a fraud. He then spent a year with appeal after appeal, trying to have defense lawyers Baker Hostetler disqualified, because one lawyer worked for him 9 years earlier, while no media even mentioned his deposition.

    Browder was furious that he was exposed. No-one wanted this to go public, not the Justice Department, not the Congress which had wittingly or unwittingly been part of the scam, and not the sycophantic media that gives Browder carte-blanche every time he wishes.

    Baker-Hostetler had hired Glen Simpson to conduct research into Browder and his activities in Russia. Much of what he found out, was used to expose Browder’s lies in his deposition. Veselniskaya did not have legal standing in the US, but she was the indominable head of the defense team, defending he client from years of legal abuse by Browder and his Kerry State Department hit squad.

    Browder knew Veselnitskaya wanted to be in New York on 9 June 2016, long before the any arragement for a Trump Tower meeting. Browder had an important appeal hearing in New York on that date. After venting his anger through the courts for over a year, now is his chance to get revenge. Browder had Veselnitskaya under surveillance in Moscow, which should be Obstruction of Justice, he knew when she applied for a VISA, and since the Agalarovs were targets of US intelligence agencies, his State Dept buddies would have known before Don Jr was ever contacted by Goldstone. Goldstone’s testimony to Congress was full of holes, playing the dumb music promoter, when in fact he constructed the entire conversation with Don Jr, and did the same to Emin, The missing component is motivation,Goldstone was very vague about his motivations as if he was following orders.

    This is not mere conjecture. Shortly after the Trump Tower meeting broke in the media in July 2017, anonymous hackers released a cache of emails from State Dept Russia analyst Robert Otto. The emails showed a deeps state operation to protect Browder from any adverse information reaching the public. There were journalists who would willingly plant stories smear campaigns, and there was an email sent by Browder himself, with a photograph of Veselnitskaya’s house, on 6 June 2016. Browder knew about the meeting in advance.

    Browder has worked closely with Jonathan Winer who was Christopher Steele’s contact in the State Dept. With Goldstone as the intermediary, Browder could smear Veselnitskaya as a “Kremlin” agent, entrap Don Jr for Winer and Steele, and by association, since Glen Simpson met Veselnitskaya before Browder’s appeal, he could leak to conservative media the false story that Simpson, now associated with the Steele Dossier, was also working for Veselnitskaya to setup Don Jr.

    Veselnitskaya believes that Browder secretly suggested Simpson to Winer to be a cut-out for Steele, so that he could bolster his credibility at Fox News when the Russiagate scandal erupted.

    Browder testified in the Senate in August 2017, when asked by Sen Graham if he knew anything about the Trump Tower meeting, first he shook his head and asked for a clarification, then he came out with

    “Well I can tell you with 100% certainty, that the Russian Intelligence Services would have been aware of the meeting in advance, while they were plotting it out, they would have been weeks spent studying how to best achieve results from that meeting.”

    So he expects us to believe that, Browder, who has not set foot in Russia since 2005, is such an expert at mind reading or remote viewing, in which case his demonstrates his fraud, or he was closely following deliberations by Russia security services, or he was projecting the very activity he and his State Dept spooks spend planning to setup Don Jr and Veselnitskaya.

    I know which scenario I would choose.

  5. Pingback: Radio interview about the Browder hoax with Hrvoje Moric of TNT : The Komisar Scoop

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