excellent piece by Charles Pierce …
So, Donald Trump The Second now has his ass in a crack because he went out after something that hundreds of elite political journalists have sought since at least 1991—some dirt on the Clintons. The difference, of course, is that many of the latter took meetings with every poolroom liar and state house grifter in the state of Arkansas. According to the remarkable one-two thrown by The New York Times over the weekend, Junior went spelunking for slime in an incredible universe of murderous gangsters, which shares a very big chunk of the Russian government’s Venn diagram with the political elite of that country. Forgive my cynicism, but Junior would have been better off hanging out at the Mena Airport, or maybe tossing back a few at Parker Dozhier’s fish camp. Safer, too. Per the NYT:
Trump Jr. added that the lawyer then changed subjects and began discussing a separate issue: the adoption of Russian children and a US law known as the Magnitsky Act, which allows the US to withhold visas and freeze the assets of Russians thought to have violated human rights.
Veselnitskaya founded a group purporting to seek the removal of Moscow’s ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens, which it put in place in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act; she has also sought to repeal that law.
Veselnitskaya was the person with whom Junior—along with Paul Manafort and the inevitable Jared Kushner—took the meeting. Let’s let Junior’s most recent explanation speak for itself, because it’s just the funniest thing ever.
In a statement on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. 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.” He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children. “It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Mr. Trump said.
This, then, is Junior’s official explanation: I thought we were colluding to ratfck the Democratic candidate, and the presidential election in general, but then she started talking about getting the mobsters’ money back. Bitch set me up.
This is not an argument I would bring to court.
Right now, there are more Russians involved in this story than there are in War and Peace. Many of them have the power to cloud men’s minds; how else to explain the fact that both Kushner and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III both forgot to mention to the responsible vetting agencies meetings with various Russians. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the statue in the Lincoln Memorial was wearing a fur hat some morning very soon. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if the R in Rhode Island suddenly turned backwards.
To get the full picture, the redoubtable Booman suggests that we examine the criminal complaint that Preet Bharara filed against one Denis Katsyv, another one of Veselnitskaya’s clients, and the alleged mastermind of the massive fraud that got Sergei Magnitsky killed. He’s right. The breadth and depth of the corruption is almost impossible to believe. There’s identity theft … of corporations. (I guess they really are people, too.) There’s the entire world as their laundromat, including “Manhattan real estate.” Russian security forces raided corporate offices and then used what they took to set up front companies to clean the cash. Essentially, they looted this hedge fund of about $230 million. Magnitsky looked into it. He got busted by the same people he was investigating, and it got him killed. Of course, Bharara got fired, and the case was quietly settled for $6 million and no admission of guilt by anybody.
What I believe I see here is an incredibly corrupt American family doing business with criminal gangs that are way, way out of their league, and that are in league with the institutions of government, and the formidable security apparatus, of an authoritarian state. Talk about punching out of your weight class. This isn’t cheating some poor subcontractor. These people throw you out windows. And the Trumps have being doing business in this financial abattoir for years. This doesn’t make them sharp. This makes them compliant minnows in a shark tank.
Not to borrow trouble, but what if these guys decide that the president’s son—or, god forbid, the president himself—have become as inconvenient as Sergei Magnitsky was. For months now, people have been asking what the Russians “have” on Donald Trump. Maybe it’s just fear. If it’s not, it ought to be.