Publicist Who Arranged Don Jr. Meeting Admits Russian Lobbyist May Have Set Up ‘Bait and Switch’

Rob Goldstone (Irina Bujor/Kommersant Photo via Associated Press)
Irina Bujor/Kommersant Photo via Associated Press

NEW YORK — Rob Goldstone, the English publicist and music manager, admitted that when he wrote Donald Trump Jr. to set up the infamous meeting with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower in June 2016 he used deliberately hyperbolic language to ensure that the meeting took place.

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed in full by Breitbart News, 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.

The meeting has been the subject of much news media coverage related to unsubstantiated and collapsing claims of collusion with Russia. All meeting participants generally agree the confab 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.

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.

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 oligarch Aras Agalarov. Aras Agalarov organized the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow when the pageant was partially owned by Donald Trump.

On behalf of Emin Agalarov, Goldstone had emailed Trump Jr. to set up a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lobbyist acting to counter the Magnitsky Act.

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.

Trump Jr. replied to Goldstone that “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” A meeting was set up for June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower with Trump Jr. and other campaign officials.

In recently released Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, Goldstone admitted to using deliberately hyperbolic language to ensure that the meeting took place.

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.

There have been indications that the meeting may have been an attempt to set up Trump Jr.

Breitbart News previously reported that Russian-born Washington lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who attended the meeting with Veselnitskaya, evidenced a larger relationship with Fusion GPS and the controversial firm’s co-founder Glenn Simpson, according to Akhmetshin’s testimony before the same committee.

The Russia collusion conspiracy theory was sparked by the dossier produced by Fusion GPS, which was paid for its anti-Trump work by Trump’s primary political opponents, namely Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) via the Perkins Coie law firm.

Breitbart News also reported that in the same testimony, Akhmetshin said that he “knows” Hillary Clinton and has a personal relationship with her that dates back to the late 1990s. Akhmetshin further testified that he “knew some people who worked on” Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Akhmetshin related a personal connection to Clinton via attorney Ed Lieberman, whose late wife Evelyn previously served as Clinton’s chief of staff when she was First Lady. Evelyn Lieberman also served as Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and famously transferred Monica Lewinsky out of the White House to the Defense Department.

In his testimony, Akhmetshin described taking an Acela train to New York the day of the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting and says that Lieberman “may” have been with him on the train.

After the meeting at Trump Tower, Akhmetshin says he went to dinner and a play with Lieberman, and the subject of the meeting that same day did not come up in his conversations at dinner or during the play. Akhmetshin also stated in the testimony that he was not asked to keep the meeting confidential.

Akhmetshin is claiming that he attended a meeting at the campaign headquarters of Clinton’s presidential challenger with that challenger’s son and other top Trump staffers, and that same night Akhmetshin did not mention the meeting to his friend Lieberman, a Clinton associate.

Besides ties to Fusion GPS and meeting a Clinton associate the same day as the Trump Jr. meeting, Akhmetshin admitted in his testimony to being present at the same security conference in Canada where Sen. John McCain was reportedly first informed about the anti-Trump dossier.

Russian-born Washington lobbyist Rinat McCain and the senator’s assistant David J. Kramer at the Halifax International Security Forum in 2016. However, Akhmetshin claimed that he did not discuss the dossier with McCain or Kramer, and that he didn’t know about the existence of the controversial dossier.

It was at the security conference in Canada in November 2016 that McCain says he was approached by Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and friend of ex-British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier.

Wood briefed McCain and Kramer, a former State Department official and longtime McCain associate who agreed to meet Steele in London for a fuller briefing on the dossier contents.

The Washington Post reported in February that after meeting with Steele, Kramer went to Washington and received the dossier document directly from Fusion GPS. McCain then passed the dossier to FBI Director James Comey.

In a New York Times oped in January, GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritch wrote that they helped McCain share their anti-Trump dossier with the Obama-era intelligence community via an unnamed “emissary.”

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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