Rantt Rundown: Perjury, Wiretaps, And Why Trump Jr. Should Be Concerned

Day 491 of the Trump presidency

Donald Trump Jr walks from the elevator at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Donald Trump Jr walks from the elevator at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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.

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) of the Senate Judiciary Committee is demanding answers.

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.

Isikoff reported:

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.”

Meanwhile…

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.
Rundown // Donald Trump Jr. / Foreign Policy / News