The Smoking Gun

The E-mails

The Atlantic posted a transcript of the e-mail chain between Donald Jr. and Rob Goldstone, the smoking gun being [emphasis mine}:

On June 3, 2016 at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:

Good morning

Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump—helped along by Aras and Emin.

What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?

I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.


Rob Goldstone

Note Bene! – There is no such position as Crown Prosecutor of Russia, anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Russian history would realize that there would be no reference to the Russian monarchy in modern day Russia.  It is a British term, so we can infer that the effects of the “telephone game” are showing, the message is getting farther from the original (truth) with each retelling.  In this case. 1) the source, 2) possible surrogate, 3)Aras, 4) Emin and finally 5) Rob Goldstone.

The e-mail chain continues culminating  with:

On [Tuesday] Jun 7, 2016, at 4:20 PM, Rob Goldstone wrote:


Hope all is well

Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday [June 9th].

I believe you are aware of the meeting — and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday [June 9] works for you?

I assume it would be at your office.


Rob Goldstone

On Jun 7, 2016, at 5:16 PM, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:

How about 3 at our offices? Thanks rob appreciate you helping set it up.


On June 7, 2016, at 5:19PM, Rob Goldstone wrote:

Perfect… I won’t sit in on the meeting, but will bring them at 3 pm and introduce you etc.

I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.



On Jun 7, 2016, at 18:14, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:

Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.

Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 10:34 AM

To: Donald Trump Jr.

Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

Good morning,

Would it be possible to move tomorrow meeting to 4pm as the Russian attorney is in court until 3 i was just informed.



On June 8, 2016, at 11:15, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:

Yes Rob I could do that unless they wanted to do 3 today instead … just let me know and ill lock it in either way.


From: Rob Goldstone

Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 11:18 AM

To: Donald Trump Jr.

Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

They can’t do today as she hasn’t landed yet from Moscow 4pm is great tomorrow.



From: Donald Trump Jr.

Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 12:03PM

To: Jared Kushner; Paul Manafort

Subject: FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

Meeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.



The Cast

In order of appearance:

  • Rob Goldstone – 56 year old British  music publicist and former tabloid journalist, who lives in New York.  He claims to have been publicist for BB King, Richard Branson, EMI Music Publishing, TLC, HMV Music, The Hard Rock Café, Steinway & Sons and Best Buy.  His firm OUI 2 Entertainment, based in NY City.  He became associated with The Trump Organization via his representation of  the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant.
  • Emin – Emin Agalarov, 37 year old, US educated, Russian-Azerbaijani singer-songwriter and businessman, Vice President of Crocus Group (owned by his father). He writes and performs songs in English and Russian.  In June of 2016 he was preparing for a tour that began with a performance in Red Square on June 12th.
  • Crown Prosecutor – ambitious reference, possibly a Russian Official and the source of the “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” or Natalia Vladimirovna Veselnitskaya the Russian attorney who met with Donald Jr.
    The Atlantic identifies the analogues Prosecutor General of Russia as Yury Chaika, a Presidential appointee (Vladimir Putin).To round out the speculation it could have also been a lower level Federal Prosecutor or a surrogate for any of these.Or to use the British term Rob could have just been being a poser [1], inflating his importance via the term Crown Prosecutor.
  • Aras – Aras Iskanderovich Agalarov [2], [3], 61 year old President of Crocus Group, op. cit., who sponsored the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant and later negotiated with The Trump Organization, Alex Sapir and Rotem Roser to build a Moscow Trump Tower.
  • RhonaRhona Graff, Vice President, Assistant to the President
    Trump Organization, does not appear to have played a part, maybe Rob just name dropping, being more of a poser.
  • Don – Donald Trump Jr. DJT’s son and campaign advisor.
  • Russian government attorney – Base on her attendance at the meeting Natalia Vladimirovna Veselnitskaya,  age estimate to be about 45 based on graduation date, she is a lawyer in private practice who founded her own law firm Kameraton Consulting in 2003 specializing in corporate and property arguments in court after serving in Federal Prosecutor office for 3 years. Most of her clients are businesses, including  the Russian Businessman Denis Katsyv.  She reported graduated from Moscow State Legal Academy in 1998.  She reportedly is divorced from a former deputy transportation minister of the Moscow area, her only apparent link to Russian Government, other than her work for the prosecutor’s office, where she reported worked on legislation.   According to Homeland Security she was visiting the US on a Business (B1/B2) visa at the time of her meeting with Donald Jr.Is this another case of Rob being a poser, referring to her as a government attorney?
  • Two people –  Natalia Vladimirovna Veselnitskaya (see above) and Rinat Akhmetshin, age 50, a naturalized, 2009, US citizen from Russia.  He served in Russian Army as a 19 year old draftee from 1986 – 1988, has stated that he was responsible for law enforcement and some counterintelligence matters in the Baltics.  He has been described in filings from various law suits, by opposing parties as “a former Soviet military counterintelligence officer.” and “a former member of the Russian military intelligence services (GRU).”It is unlikely that a 19 year old draftee would be an officer, more likely and enlisted, equivalent to US private or corporal.  This photo would seem to confirm an enlisted grade.
    Rinat Akhmetshin, center, on a training exercise in Russia while he was in the Soviet Army service in the 1980s. Credit via Rinat Akhmetshin in NY Times

    An acquaintance claims that Akhmetshin “openly described his years as an officer in the Soviet GRU, the military intelligence arm, serving in Afghanistan.”  he goes on to say “The original NBC News reports suggested that Akhmetshin’s intelligence past somehow has rolled forward until now, putting Russian spies in the same room with Donald Trump, Jr. Nothing I picked up in numerous intense reporting experiences with Akhmetshin over the years — in the former U.S.S.R. and the U.S. — suggested any current such relationships.”

    Many news outlets and blogs are referring to Rinat as a former spy, evidently not realizing the difference between counter-intelligence and intelligence.  Counter intelligence units are spy hunters while intelligence units are spys/spy-masters.

    He appears to be linked to Natalia via  Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, set up by one of Natalia’s clients Denis Katxyv.

Note: It appears based on subsequent reporting that Natalia’s posse expanded to four.

  • Paul Manafort – 68 year old political consultant, lobbyist and lawyer, chairman of DJT’s campaign from March 2016 to August 2016, when he resigned because of questions regarding his consulting work in the Ukraine.
  • Brother in law (sic) – Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump.
  • Russian attorney – Natalia again, this time without any link to the Russian Government.  Rob no longer being a poser.

The Meeting

Who was in the room:

  1. Donald Jr.
  2. Paul Manafort – reportedly was texting on his phone for most of the meeting.
  3. Jared Kushner – reported left after 7 – 10 minutes.
  4. Natalia Veselnitskaya
  5. Rinat Akhmetshin
  6. Rob Goldsmith, at least for introductions per e-mail, unclear if he stayed.
  7. Anatoli Samochornov, an Ex-State Department contract translator, reportedly hired by Natalia.  Potentially the most important witness, as he has no potential legal jeopardy, and if translating have been a party to the whole conversation.
  8. CNN reports “a representative of the Russian family who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. The source did not provide the names.”Two obvious choices, 1) a representative of Aras Iskanderovich Agalarov or 2) a unknown party, who was the source and not the Crown Prosecutor of Russia and possibly not affiliated with the Russian Government.This would also be a very important witness, but if foreign national unlikely to appear.

The meeting reportedly lasted 20 minutes, there was some “evidence” disclosed but evidently discounted by Jr., the remainder of the meeting was a discussion of adoption of Russian babies in the US.

The meeting evidently came to light when Jared updated his SF-86 subsequent to his initial January submission and reported a contact with Natalia and it was leaked to the NY Times.

Kushner’s attorneys provided the FBI with an amended SF-86 form — used to obtain a security clearance — on June 21 to list the meeting with the Russian lawyer from a year earlier after discovering the email chain while preparing documents to turn over to the Senate intelligence committee. The change was the third time Kushner has amended his SF-86 form.

Note, the relevant SF-86 question (Sec. 19, pg 59),  re: contacts with foreign nationals is “Do you have, or have you had, close and/or continuing contact with a foreign national within the last seven years with who you, or your spouse, or cohabitant are bound by affection, influence, common interests, and/or obligation.”  IMHO a 20 – 30  minute business meeting, which he left, does not rise to the level of “close and/or continuing contact

What Was Discussed?

CNN reports:

Trump Jr., Veselnitskaya and Goldstone have said the meeting centered on the Magnitsky Act — a 2012 US law that imposed sanctions on Russian individuals — and the retaliatory Kremlin-imposed ban on adoption of Russian children by American citizens.

Continuing with Jr.’s original statement re: Hillary info:

“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,” Trump Jr. said in a statement last Sunday. He added that Veselnitskaya’s “true agenda” was to discuss the Magnitsky Act and the adoptions dispute.

Was There “Collusion”?

Certainly a prima fascia case of intent to collude, if there was such a charge, can be made based on the first e-mail’s  “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump—helped along by Aras and Emin.” passage.  But there is no statute for collusion;

“But unlike obstruction of justice — which is clearly defined in the United States Code — there is no specific statute for collusion.”  [PBS]

Certainly it puts the Administration in the position of making a false statement relative to Russian Contacts, this was clearly a campaign meeting with Russians with the intent to get dirt on Hillary.

Did it result in any actions, no.

Should Donald Jr. have been savvy enough to not take the meeting and  refer Goldsmith to a surrogate, oppo research team or PAC, yes.

Will the Dems on the  Senate and House committees and press have a field day with this, yes.

Will the most important witness, in my opinion, Mr. Samochornov, be called before Congress to testify publicly, unlikely.

Subsequently I have found that he was interviewed by House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017.

May 2018 Update – A transcript of the interview is available at:

Will Mueller investigate this, most likely.

Will he find criminal activity or intent via campaign finance statutes, perjury or other crimes, To Be Determine, likely in 2 or more years.