Author of Infamous Russia Email to Don Jr. Admits It Was ‘Hyperbolic,’ ‘Publicist Puff’

British publicist Rob Goldstone (L) arrives at a closed door meeting with House Intelligence Committee December 18, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee is meeting with Goldstone for its ongoing investigation into Russian's interference in the 2016 election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty

Rob Goldstone, the English publicist and music manager, admitted that he was “using a little artistic language” and he “puffed it” when he sent a much publicized email to Donald Trump Jr. to set up the infamous Trump Tower meeting, claiming to possess incriminating information and documents on Hillary Clinton originating with “the Crown prosecutor of Russia.”

“I mean publicist puff is how they get meetings,” he added, referring to the work of a publicist.

Goldstone made the comments in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed in full by Breitbart News. The testimony was given in December 2017 and publicly released several months ago. It is newly relevant following the renewed news media spotlight on the Trump Tower meeting while most of Goldstone’s nearly 250-pages of testimony remain entirely unreported by the news media.

On June 3, 2016, Goldstone sent the following email to Trump Jr.:

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.

The email was widely cited by the news media, with many claiming the message represented some sort of collusion with Russia.

Russia does not have a “Crown prosecutor.” Rhona Graff served as President Donald Trump’s longtime secretary.

In a statement to the Senate committee, Goldstone conceded that he utilized the “strongest hyperbolic language” to secure the meeting with Trump Jr.

Goldstone conceded that he had no factual basis to back up his email to Trump Jr. claiming that any such purported opposition information on Clinton, which never actually surfaced, was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Asked to further explain his admitted use of “hyperbolic language” in the email, Goldstone replied that “I had puffed it and used some keywords that I thought would attract Don Jr.’s attention.”

He said he was “embarrassed” that he even set up the meeting, and described Trump campaign officials present as viewing the get-together as a waste of time.

Like all other witnesses who have spoken publicly, Goldstone, who attended the Trump Tower meeting, said there was no dirt presented on Clinton and that the meeting focused largely on the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials accused of involvement in the death of a Russian tax accountant, as well as talk about a Russian tax evasion scheme and alleged connections to the Democratic National Committee.

Attempts by Breitbart News to reach Goldstone have so far been unsuccessful.

Trump Jr. previously explained that he took the meeting thinking it was about “opposition research” on Hillary Clinton and was disappointed that it wasn’t. Trump Jr. also said the meeting lasted about 20 minutes, “ended up being about essentially nothing that was relevant,” was set up in a manner that “was essentially a bait and switch” and “everyone has basically said that in testimony already.”

The meeting was set up by Goldstone, who had contacted Trump Jr. on behalf of his client Emin Agalarov, a Russian singer and businessman who is the son of Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov. Aras Agalarov organized the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow when the pageant was partially owned by Donald Trump.

Goldstone had emailed Trump Jr. to set up a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lobbyist acting to counter the Magnitsky Act. In his testimony, Goldstone says that he did not know Veselnitskaya when he sent the email and did not have any information that she worked for the Russian government. Veselnitskaya has long maintained that she is not tied to the Russian government. Goldstone testified that Veselnitskaya did not present herself as working for Russia during the meeting.

In his testimony, Goldstone further attempted to explain his unusual phraseology in the email to Trump Jr.

He was asked about the part where he wrote about “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.”

He responded that this section was just his own assumption from watching television and visiting Russia, and the email was not based on any actual knowledge of information originating with Russia:

What I meant in that was that I had been, at that time, probably 12 or 13 times to Russia, including I had been in Russia with Mr. Trump during the Miss Universe Organization pageant. I had seen and heard first hand people of all levels, whether it was business people, whether it was friends of Emin, friends of his father, talk in very glowing terms about Mr. Trump. I had also seen on television in Russia many, many reports in which government officials, including the President, Mr. Putin, had praised Mr. Trump, who, in turn, I had seen on CNN had praised Mr. Putin.

So what I was trying to say there was, look, here, Emin may have this information. This is yet another example of Russian support for you and your father.

Earlier, he explained how the email originated with a phone call from Emin, the pop star:

I received — I received the call from Emin that morning, and he asked me if I could contact the Trumps with something interesting and said that a well-connected Russian attorney had met with his father that morning in his father’s office and had told him that they had some interesting information that could potentially be damaging regarding funding by Russians to the Democrats and to its candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Goldstone admitted that he “didn’t quite understand what he (Emin) was asking and asked for more information. I asked if he could tell me a bit more about the attorney, as I felt I might be asked that. And he said that the attorney was well-connected.”

He said that Emin told him that “all he knew was that there was some potentially damaging information re: Hillary, which could be of interest to the Trumps.”

He admitted that when sending the email, “I didn’t know what I was really even talking about, because I had asked it to be elaborated on” and it wasn’t.

Asked about the section of his email where he claims the purported Clinton information originated with Russia’s nonexistent “Crown prosecutor,” Goldstone claimed that his British background led him to believe that former or current federal prosecutors are known as “crown prosecutors.”

He stated: “I grew up in England, and when I studied journalism, we had to study a piece of law, a very small piece, but we were taught that all the equivalents of Federal prosecutors in this country were Crown prosecutors. I’ve always called them Crown. Russia hasn’t had a crown since 1917.”

Veselnitskaya, a lobbyist against the Magnitsky Act, previously described working in 1998 after law school at the Central Administration of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Moscow Region.

In her own testimony before the Senate, Veselnitskaya was asked why Goldstone may have presented her information, which she affirmed was about the Magnistky Act and not Clinton, as originating with the “crown prosecutor.”

“I do not know what Mr. Goldstone was talking about,” she replied. “Given what I know, I can assume that Mr. Agalarov might tell him a little about me, mentioning that I had previously worked in the prosecutor’s office, and the information I wanted to tell in the U.S. Congress had also been reported by me before to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia and it was confirmed there.” She was referring to the information about the Magnitsky Act.

“Having compiled this, the musical producer as I learnt more than a year later could either confuse everything, or intentionally make everything look intriguing so that the meeting could take place.”

Regarding the section of Goldstone’s email that claimed “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary,” Veselnitskaya testified that “I do not know anything about this; at least I have never given such information. I do not know what information and documents Mr. Goldstone had in mind.”

She continued, mocking Goldstone:

Secondly, if you follow the logic of submitting information to the United States as to the fact that the RF (Russian Federation) Prosecutor General was supposed to be meant by the ”the Crown Prosecutor of Russia,” then on the basis of Goldstone’s next phrase about the transfer of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia,” which ends with the “this is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” doesn’t the absurdity and improbability of the story by this Frankenstein writer become obvious?

Can someone really think that the Prosecutor General is “leaking” “official, serious and confidential” information, uncovering some of his country’s bad relations with one candidate to another candidate via business people? Isn’t the nonsense discussed for months already very obvious?

And our meeting did not take place in a safe house like in the James Bond movies, but in the Trump Tower in New York. We had a very simple and short conversation.

Goldstone, meanwhile, admitted in the testimony that he used deliberately hyperbolic language to ensure that the meeting took place. Goldstone further said that he believes the meeting was a “bait and switch” by a Russian lobbyist seeking a meeting on another matter by misleadingly claiming to be bringing the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Goldstone was asked to clarify a draft statement he sent to the committee stating, “I, therefore, used the strongest hyperbolic language in order to secure this request from Donald Trump Jr. based on the bare facts I was given.”

“Mr. Goldstone, in your capacity as a music publicist, have you at times used hyperbolic language or exaggeration or hype as part of your pitch?” Goldstone was asked.

“At most times, yes,” he replied.

“So if I understand your statement right, you were saying that your email on June 3rd to Mr. Trump was an example of this hyperbolic exaggeration type?” he was asked.

Goldstone replied, “It was an example of, I was given very limited information, and my job was to get a meeting, and so I used my professional use of words to emphasize what my client had only given bare-bones information about, in order to get the attention of Mr. Trump Jr.”

Elsewhere in the testimony, Goldstone says it appeared the claim of damaging information on Clinton was used to pull a “bait and switch” on the campaign.

He stated:

I described it as a — that it appeared to me to have been a bait and switch of somebody who appeared to be lobbying for what I now understood to be the Magnitsky Act, and probably thought she wouldn’t be able to get a meeting under that guise, and, therefore, had dangled the idea of having some damaging information on Hillary, which she may or may not have had, but it didn’t appear to me as if anything had come out of it at the meeting.

Goldstone’s testimony comes as Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, senior vice president at Crocus Group, the real estate development firm run by Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, gave similar descriptions of what happened inside the Trump Tower meeting.

In his own testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that was recently made public, Kaveladze related that no one at the meeting presented themselves there as representing the Russian government, no one discussed hacked emails and no conversation took place that could possibly be characterized as “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign. Goldstone made similar remarks.

In the testimony, reviewed in full by Breitbart News, Kaveladze asserted that the meeting was an informational presentation that focused largely on the Magnitsky Act, relating how he called the meeting “boring” when describing it afterwards.

Kaveladze said that the senior Trump campaign officials present at the meeting — Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner — didn’t seem interested in any of the information discussed.

He described Kushner as being “very frustrated” that he was wasting his time at the meeting and Manafort as busy on his phone and not even paying attention during the presentation.

“And at some point of time, Mr. Kushner asked a question,” recalled Kaveladze, who does not seem to speak fluent English. “I can’t give you word by word, but I think the idea was: ‘Why are we here and why are we listening to that Magnitsky Act story?’”

Goldstone also related that Kushner was frustrated by the irrelevant content of the meeting.

Kaveladze described Trump Jr. as politely ending the meeting by telling participants that “we’re in the middle of electoral campaign” and “we’re extremely busy right now.”

Contrary to suggestions that the meeting represented some sort of shadowy intended collusion, Kaveladze said that the meeting was not arranged as a secret and that he told “a lot of people” about it beforehand, including family members and even a neighbor.

Goldstone also said that he told others about it, and even posted his presence at Trump Tower on Facebook that day.

Speaking in his Senate testimony, Kaveladze said that he didn’t see Goldstone’s email claiming incriminating information on Clinton before the meeting. He says that Aras Agalarov contacted him on June 6, 2016 to tell him about it. He said Agalarov “asked me if I knew anything about (the) Magnitsky Act, and I said I did, and so he said the meeting is going to be about Magnitsky Act.”

Kaveladze said that two days prior to the meeting, he received an email from Goldstone informing him about three individuals who were going to be at the meeting.

That was when Kaveladze says he called an associate of Emin’s, Roman Beniaminov, who first told him that “as far as he heard” an attorney who would be present “had some negative information on Hillary Clinton.” He said that Beniaminov told him that he did not have any details on the alleged “negative information” concerning Clinton and that he overheard that suggestion from Goldstone.

Kaveladze, who attended as a representative of Agalarov, says that he grew concerned about the suggestion the meeting would involve opposition information on Clinton.

He said that his concerns were put to rest just before the Trump Tower meeting when he had lunch with the attorney in question, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who opposes the Magnitsky Act and led the meeting at Trump Tower.

The businessman says that Veselnitskaya gave him an 11-page synopsis of what she had planned to discuss at the meeting. He says the only reference to Clinton was “one sentence” about how Ziff Brothers Investments, an American firm, had been accused of evading Russian taxes and two of the company’s leaders are major donors to Democratic candidates, including Clinton. That information was already a matter of public record.

Kaveladze says that the Russian attorney said that she would stick to the synopsis and stated that he was “relieved” that nothing else about Clinton would be discussed.

“I didn’t want to be a part of a meeting where some negative information on a presidential candidate would be discussed,” the businessman told the Senate hearing. “So, honestly, I was considering if I realized during the lunch that the meeting would be about negative information on Ms. Clinton, I’m not going to go to that meeting.”

Goldstone said in his testimony that Veselnitskaya was reading from papers for most of her presentation, likely referring to the 11-page synopsis reviewed by Kaveladze.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.

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