The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Elliot: Deep into the matryoshka

In this photo taken July 11, 2017, Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed by host Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel television program, in New York. A Russian-American lobbyist says he attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump’s son, marking another shift in the account of a discussion that was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican’s White House campaign. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

So, what’s up with Donald Jr.? And how did he wind up in the middle of the Russian election-meddling scandal? Which, somehow, hardly anyone has labeled a “gate.” Yet.

In 2013, the Trumpster put on the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. According to many reports, Trumpster and his eldest son were friends with Russian billionaire developer Aras Agalarov (“Putin’s builder,” as he’s reportedly known in Russia) and his son Emin, a Russian pop singer. The elder Agalarov helped the Trumpster put on the Miss Universe spectacle. (Remember when the Trumpster said he had no connections to Russia?)

Emin, as it happens, was represented in music by Rob Goldstone, who does that sort of thing, and Goldstone and Donald Jr. got to know each other. The Trumpster himself appeared in a music video by Emin. Lost yet? Just wait.

In June 2016, Trumpster-Lite, according to his own emails (which he released quite shortly before The New York Times did), was approached by Goldstone via email about meeting a Russian attorney who would like to give the Trumpster campaign some “ very high level and sensitive information” from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton as part of Russia’s support of the Trumpster campaign. Goldstone said he had been approached by Emin on behalf of father Aras, who had met with the Crown prosecutor of Russia.

Trumpster-Lite responded that he would “love” to see the Russian government’s dirt, and he brought along Trumpster campaign dudes Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to rendezvous with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at the Trump Tower. But, alas. She happened not to have the “ very high-level and sensitive information” on Clinton, but she did happen to want to discuss the U.S. Magnitsky Act, about which she was very much concerned. (She’s against it, as is Putin.)

When the meeting story began to slip over the horizon early this year, Donald Jr. in March told the Times that he had never set up a meeting with Russians. After the emails broke, on June 8 Trumpster-Lite said, “It was a short introductory meeting …”

And it turns out that Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, reportedly once a Soviet counterintelligence officer (which he denies), was also at the meeting with the Trumpster campaign dudes. That tidbit remained unmentioned until July 14. Don’t ask why. The whole Russian-meddling scandal is a matryoshka doll.

Later, it came out that two or three other Russians might also have attended the meeting. Don’t ask. We’re deep into the doll, which will give you scurvy, I hear.

This could all be cloak and dagger puréed with a hint of slapstick, except that U.S. election law says a campaign may not accept funding or anything of value from a foreign source. But the Trumpster people didn’t get anything, you say.

Yes, but they attended the meeting believing they would get something: “very high-level and sensitive information” from the Russian government on Clinton.

“Conspiracy is a broad crime,” Jeffrey H. Smith, a former CIA general counsel, told the LA Times on July 11. “There is no need that the crime actually occur, only that the individuals were intending to do it and took steps to carry it out. These emails come pretty close.”

And the incident is yet another drip, drip, drip in the Russian scandal plunking onto Trumpster’s administration like water torture. Our Great Leader has for months claimed the investigation is fake news, the hugest witch hunt since Watergate. (Hmm.)

Yet, one-by-one, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, son-in-law Kushner, and now Trumpster-Lite, after initially denying any contact with Russians, have admitted they did, indeed, have such contact.

So maybe it’s time for a bit of pattern recognition, because you know how we humans love to be smacked in the face with some pattern recognition.

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE PATTERN RECOGNITION BEHIND THE CURTAIN, our Great Leader proclaims. Over and over. Like a loop tape.

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