Rantt Rundown: Perjury, Wiretaps, And Why Trump Jr. Should Be Concerned
Day 491 of the Trump presidency
Friday: May 25, 2018
Donald Trump Jr. is no stranger to sketchy meetings with foreign nationals offering help in an effort to gain influence over his father.
There was the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, then-Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives. Donald Trump Jr.’s emails and own testimony confirmed that he was eager to receive dirt on Hillary Clinton, and quite a few other revelations as well.
Then, there was the August 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., now-White House Adviser Stephen Miller, Blackwater Founder Erick Prince, George Nader (acting as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), and Israeli Social Media manipulation specialist Joel Zamel. Nader indicated that the Saudis and UAE were willing to help his father get elected, as Zamel offered help with social media manipulation.
As has been reported, Donald Trump Jr. was very receptive to both offers. And as we can see, Donald Trump Jr. appears to have lied about his contacts with foreign nationals offering help in his congressional testimony.
This is from Don Jr’s SJC transcript.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) May 23, 2018
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) of the Senate Judiciary Committee is demanding answers.
Based on new information we learned this week, I’m very concerned that Donald Trump Jr. provided false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I’m asking the Committee Chairman to bring Trump Jr. back in to testify-in public this time. Here’s the letter I sent yesterday pic.twitter.com/QRzxOkyZtV
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) May 25, 2018
Important to note federal law, Section 30121 of Title 52, states that it is a crime for a foreign national to contribute money or other items of value to an American election, as well as making it illegal for an American to solicit such a contribution.
Now, we have a report regarding a previously reported meeting. The FBI has reportedly obtained wiretaps from a Russian oligarch who is under U.S. sanctions, has ties to the NRA, and met with Donald Trump Jr.
FBI obtains Spanish wiretaps of Alexander Torshin, the Russian banker and Putin ally who met with Donald Trump Jr. at the NRA convention in 2016. “Trump’s son should be concerned,” says Spanish prosecutor. https://t.co/VJ3OD0620t
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) May 26, 2018
José Grinda, who has spearheaded investigations into Spanish organized crime, said that bureau officials in recent months requested and were provided transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer. On the wiretaps, Romanov refers to Torshin as “El Padrino,” the godfather.
“Just a few months ago, the wiretaps of these telephone conversations were given to the FBI,” Grinda said in response to a question from Yahoo News during a talk he gave at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. Asked if he was concerned about Torshin’s meetings with Donald Trump Jr. and other American political figures, Grinda replied: “Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.”
The comments by Grinda were the first clear sign that the FBI may be investigating Torshin, possibly as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Torshin — a close political ally of Vladimir Putin — had multiple contacts with conservative activists in the United States during the election, seeking to set up a summit between the Russian president and then candidate Trump. Although the summit never transpired, Torshin did meet briefly with the president’s son at a private dinner in Louisville during the May 2016 annual convention of the NRA. A member of the NRA since 2012, Torshin has been a regular attendee of the group’s conventions in recent years and hosted senior members of the group in Moscow.
It’s important to add that the FBI is reportedly looking into whether Torshin “illegally funneled” money through the NRA to help Trump.
I’ll leave this story by reiterating Grinda’s quote: “Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.”
- We learned more about what should be one of the bigger scandals of this administration, especially if Trump was involved in the decision-making – which it seems he may have been.
A source familiar with efforts by the Israeli intel firm Black Cube to dig up dirt on @brhodes & me (& target our families) says the contract started shortly after Trump’s visit to Israel last May & that whoever hired them made clear it was “for Trump.” https://t.co/NUeTkzNNiV
— Colin Kahl (@ColinKahl) May 25, 2018
Wow! @RichardEngel got his source to speak on camera that it was Trump that hired Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube to target former Obama’s officials and supporters of the #IranDeal (including myself) in order to discredit and silence us…
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) May 26, 2018
A deeply unsettling contrast:
Congress’s obsession over the FBI’s (likely lawful) use of a foreign counterintelligence informant vs. its deafening silence with respect to claims that US government officials may have hired a foreign intelligence firm to spy on American citizens. https://t.co/tWWhpbW1JG
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) May 25, 2018
- Last we heard of Columbus NOVA, they paid Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen $500,000 and Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg tried to distance himself from the decision to pay Cohen. Now, we have a report indicating a higher amount and an indication that Vekselberg was more than just aware of the payment…
11 days before the inauguration, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg visited Trump Tower to meet with Michael Cohen to discuss “Russia’s relations with the U.S.,” NYT reports.
Weeks later, Columbus Nova awarded Cohen a $1,000,000 consulting contract. https://t.co/G8lBCBiFBZ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 25, 2018
Remember what else happened that month?
On January 27, Michael Cohen, and Felix Sater met with Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Artemenko in New York to create a back-channel peace deal with Ukraine and Russia (Russia sanctions relief).
Artemenko said the plan was delivered to Flynn… https://t.co/qufCFHlHGe
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) May 25, 2018
- The Trump administration told lawmakers that a deal has been reached to put Chinese tech company ZTE back in business. Yes, that’s the same company who was banned from doing business in the US for violating sanctions and the NSA, FBI, and CIA believes tried to use their technology to spy on American consumers. Important to note that less than two weeks ago, a Trump-branded resort received hundreds of millions in loans from the Chinese Government. Not to mention a letter reportedly circulated among wealthy entrepreneurs in China, soliciting money for Republicans and Trump’s reelection campaign in exchange for access to the President.
- At least three people were injured in a school shooting…this time in a middle school.