A shocking report from Reuters on Friday suggests that the much-ballyhooed June 2016 meeting between Russian lawyer Natalalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr., as well as other Trump campaign staff, may have involved suspicious manipulation by the Democratic opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
The meeting came about through a series of exchanges between Trump Jr. and a Russian publicist who knew the Trumps; that publicist suggested that Trump Jr. meet with a Russian lawyer who could provide opposition research on Hillary Clinton, damaging Hillary and helping Trump. “I love it,” Trump Jr. replied.
The meeting itself was a bust; apparently Veselnitskaya provided no opposition research on Hillary Clinton, instead making vague allegations and spending most of her time talking about the repeal of certain anti-Russian sanctions. But now Reuters reports that Veselnitskaya met with Fusion GPS on the day of the Trump Jr. meeting, both before and after the meeting — and that the file she handed to the Trump campaign was compiled by Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS is, of course, the same firm that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid inordinate sums of money to dig up anti-Trump material later compiled in the so-called Steele dossier.
According to Reuters:
The sources told Reuters that the negative information that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya wanted to give to Republican Trump’s campaign at a June 2016 meeting in New York had been dug up by Fusion GPS in an unrelated investigation. … In December, 2014, the sources said, Veselnitskaya, who then was involved in litigation pitting her Russian client against British-American financier William Browder, received a legal research memo reporting that the Ziff Brothers, two New York financiers allied with Browder, had made a large contribution to a Clinton charity. The memo had been prepared by Fusion, which had been hired to conduct legal research on Browder by Baker and Hostetler law firm. The firm represented Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, who was engaged in disputes with Browder and U.S. prosecutors. Glenn Simpson, one of Fusion GPS’ founders, met with Veselnitskaya about that litigation before and after her meeting with Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Simpson apparently claims he didn’t know that Veselnitskaya went to meet with Trump Jr. at all; she just happened to meet with Trump’s campaign staff between meetings with Fusion GPS.
Right. As Guy Benson writes over at Townhall:
Simpson wants people to believe that his company's work on behalf of Russia, and its anti-Trump work on behalf of Democrats, had absolutely nothing to do with each other -- and the fateful crossing of streams at Trump Tower was just a weird accident. Simpson also reportedly told Congress that he didn't know Ms. Veselnitskaya had met with top-level Trump aides in between his two in-person interactions with her on that exact same day. He says he was completely in the dark that she'd peddled his firm's research in an effort to collude with the Trump campaign...while his firm was trying to pin collusion on the Trump campaign. Does that sound pretty ludicrous to you? It sounds pretty ludicrous to me.
Now, this isn’t entrapment — Trump Jr. wanted the meeting, and said he was happy to take help from a Russian lawyer fronting for the Russian government. But it does suggest that Fusion GPS was manipulating both campaigns for cash, and ensnaring both campaigns in links with the Russian government at the very least. Something very dirty seems to be going on here.