Streetwise Professor

July 11, 2017

Why Would You Meet With a Nobody Promising a Watch, If Putin Already Gave You a Rolex?

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 8:06 pm

I presume you have heard, ad nauseum, the hyperventilating about the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer, and the email correspondence leading up to it, in which Trump Jr. expressed intense interest in the possibility that the lawyer might be able to pass some dirt on Hillary originating with the Russian government.

I think my rule of thumb that the true significance of a Trump-related revelation varies inversely with the frenzy it sets off holds here. Maybe I need to revise the rule to say the significance varies inversely with the exponential of the cube of the frenzy.

For starters, what campaign wouldn’t check out an offer of compromising material on an opponent–especially one like Hillary? And do you think that Hillary or her campaign would have passed up a similar offer? Hardly. This is the way the game is played. This is the way the game has always been played–by the Clintons in particular. Like Tip O’Neill said: politics ain’t beanbag.

And let’s not forget that the Steele digging expedition, which originated with Republican opponents to Trump but which continued with funding by as yet unnamed (why not? why no curiosity here?) Democratic operatives after Trump and Hillary had clinched their respective nominations, involved paying to get Russian dirt on Trump. So the Black Earth of the Russian steppes is open for the Democrats to plough, but is off limits to Republicans?

If the Democrats (and the media) didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all.

But these things are not the biggest thing. I have yet to see anyone point out the obvious here. Namely, if in June the Trump campaign was openly interested in compromising material allegedly supplied by the Russian government, would completely undermine the dominant collusion narrative. Why meet with a Russian walk-in on the possibility she would produce official Russian kompromat if there was already an active conspiracy between the Russian government at the highest levels and the Trump campaign to obtain such information? Why meet in a public place with some woman off the street whom you don’t know from Adam’s off ox offering you a watch, when Putin has already given you a Rolex?

Yes, there are possible ways to reconcile these possibilities, but they make the story even more convoluted and baroque, and therefore less plausible.

Then there are the inconvenient realities that the woman lawyer wildly exaggerated her connections, and lied about having information. She was not a Russian government lawyer, of one thing. She was a private attorney dangling this bait solely to get a meeting, in order to importune Donnie Jr. on behalf of a sanctioned client to relax the Magnitsky Act. She then blathered about some deal involving adoptions (which she clearly had no ability to swing). Manafort–whom we are told, repeatedly, has been around the Russian block many times–realized she was a fraud: no doubt he has met her kind many a time. The meeting ended quickly, and crucially, there was no second meeting.

In other words, Natalia Veselnitskaya told a tall tale in order to break the ice. Which she then proceeded to fall through.

Veselnitskaya denies telling Trump that she was dishing dirt on Hillary. She could be right. That bait came from the intermediary to set up the meeting. Maybe he was the fabulist. Who knows? Who cares? What we know is that whoever spun it, it was a fable, and the moral of the story is that grifters lie in order to get face time with powerful people. Who knew?

So we know Trump Jr. was open to getting compromising information from Russians. Not shocking. At all.

We also know that he didn’t get any.

We also know that if he was open to it on 9 June, it is highly unlikely that there was at that time a conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin to discredit Hillary.

One interesting coda. Trump Jr. released the email chain related to the meeting. This set reporters, including notably one of the four (!) NYT reporters (Adam Goldman, AKA @adamgoldmanNYT) on the story and CNN’s bald, chubby, budding Kurt Eichenwald-lookalike, Hillary pom-pom squad member (I add the personal details so that you can distinguish him from the other members of the CNN cheerleading team) Brian Stelter (@brianstelter), into a foot stomping, breath holding tizzy. How dare he preempt them?!? How dare he make it impossible for them to quote selectively from the emails?!?

Goldman was shocked! Shocked! That personal emails were released. Again: if they had no double standards, they’d have no standards at all.

And by the way–how did the NYT get the emails in the first place? Seems to me that the fact that they did lends credence to Trump’s March assertion that his team was under government surveillance. But that possibility to has escaped attention. Because it doesn’t advance the mission, and indeed undercuts it.

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  1. “She was not a Russian government lawyer, of one thing” – oh, come on, this is Russia you are talking about. Whole invading armies are not government soldiers when it suits the Kremlin.

    Comment by Ivan — July 12, 2017 @ 2:46 am

  2. It continues to surprise me how often you hear an argument about some Russians being non-government actors. Like a recent story with Kaspersky and US government. It takes EXTREME selflesness and iron will to be anything remotely approaching a non-government actor in Russia. Very few people have that.

    Comment by Ivan — July 12, 2017 @ 2:55 am

  3. I wonder what would have happened if Donald Trump, Jr. had followed Standard Clinton Procedure – wipe the servers, and BleachBit the emails and everything else?

    The Klinton camp said that “there’s nothing to see here” – because they destroyed evidence or didn’t turn it over.

    Donald Trump, Jr. says there’s nothing to see here – because there’s nothing to see here.

    Except, of course, for all the lying Democrats like Schiff and Warner and the NY Slimes and the other usual suspects who immediately claimed – again for the umpteenth time – that Donald Trump, Jr. – and the Trump campaign! – colluded with the “Russian government” on the basis of this meeting with a Russian babushka who used to be a prosecutor in Russia in 2002.

    It is a mystery how the Russian babushka constitutes the Russian government.

    But, then again, as Ivan points out, Russians claim all sorts of things.

    But I think the Democrats and their media idiot compadres beat the Russians at making baseless and outrageous claims hands down.

    It’s no contest.

    I wonder when the Demonrats and the Clinton News Network and the NY Slimes and WaPoop and PMSNBC, the media assassins of the Democrat Party, will finally pick their heads out of their beautiful shit bubble that they have created and realize that there is a real world out there, with many real things to report on.

    Comment by elmer — July 12, 2017 @ 8:37 am

  4. Ivan, do we need to point out that you have no basis to conclude that Putin put her up to this, other than you already hate Putin and assume he’d do these things?

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — July 12, 2017 @ 9:48 am

  5. @Thomas Jefferson

    Correct. In exactly the same way that I have no basis to conclude that an unknown youth from a gang-controlled ghetto trying to accost me is a gang member, other than I already hate gang-controlled ghettos.

    Comment by Ivan — July 12, 2017 @ 10:07 am

  6. It was, by all accounts, a pretty grubby election campaign. But hey! That’s democracy for you.
    Someone phones / e mails Trump team. “Got some dirt on Hillary”
    Ok, let’s meet up.
    Dirt, if there was (ho ho) not immediately useful because not verified and from a dodgy source.

    My suspicion is that Trump team has now verified loads of dirt but is saving it for later.

    Comment by james — July 12, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

  7. I should add, Trump has just promised that the US will become a net energy exporter. Not the biggest favour he could do to Putin.

    Comment by james — July 12, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

  8. Prevezon Holdings, Mr. Katsyv’s company, paid $6 million to resolve the claim without admitting any crime. While the prosecution portrayed the settlement as a victory, Ms. Veselnitskaya told the newspaper Izvestia that it was “almost an apology from the government.”

    In recent years, she had become the public face of Moscow’s efforts to reverse international travel and financial sanctions on key Russian figures linked to an alleged $230 million tax fraud.

    Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who exposed the fraud, was arrested by the same prosecutors who he suggested had organized it. He died in jail in 2009 amid accusations of beatings and medical malpractice.

    In 2012 Mr. Browder, who had been Mr. Magnitsky’s boss, successfully campaigned for the United States Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, a collection of sanctions naming Russian officials linked to Mr. Magnitsky’s death. An outraged Mr. Putin responded by banning Americans from adopting Russian children. Ms. Veselnitskaya has also met with members of Congress and helped to establish a Delaware nonprofit group that lobbied against the sanctions. She submitted lengthy testimony and organized a screening of an anti-Magnitsky film at Newseum in Washington in June 2016, just days after she met with Donald Trump Jr.

    She also attended a congressional committee hearing on American policy toward Russia a day after the screening, taking a front-row seat.

    “She has this kind of patriotic thing about her,” said Andrei Nekrasov, the Russian documentary maker who made the film, which critics called inaccurate. “She does have a tendency to go a bit solemn, if not pompous and say ‘My country is being attacked’ — that is her style.”

    It was Ms. Veselnitskaya’s desire to get the United States to reverse the Magnitsky Act that prompted her to seek a meeting with the Trump campaign, she said Saturday in written responses to questions from The New York Times. On Tuesday, her office withdrew the promise of an interview.

    Comment by Anders Dahl — July 12, 2017 @ 5:27 pm

  9. […] don’t disagree with Prof. Pirrong’s take on the Veselnitskaya-Trump Jr. meeting, but I wish the media had researched V’s success story […]

    Pingback by The Dilettante's Winterings | At 55°45' N.L. — July 14, 2017 @ 2:07 am

  10. @SWP here’s a comprehensive discussion of possibilities: curious what you think?

    Comment by job23_12 — July 14, 2017 @ 6:10 am

  11. LOL, you’re losing your mind. Do you know that Drudge Report was running their lead from Zero Hedge yesterday? why no curiosity there?

    Comment by Willis Warren — July 14, 2017 @ 11:15 am

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