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NOTHING BIG MAC: Donnie Jr Caught in Latest Russiagate Ragbag

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

Despite repeated failures in litigating the ‘Russian Collusion’ case, America’s mainstream media and liberal establishment are still trying to manifest new episodes, hoping that one will turn up Trump.

What was billed by the US mainstream media this week as a smoking gun, still hasn’t produced anything remotely compelling, not by normal journalistic standards anyway.

At first it looked salacious and on first read had all the makings of a Russo-American sequel to Get Shorty

Last summer, well before Russiamania descended upon the US media and body politic, a former Trump Organization and entertainment agent associate, Rob Goldstone, emailed Donald Trump Jr about an interesting meeting in Trump Tower. Goldstone laid the bait, according to an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr this week, indicating that the purpose of the meeting was as follows:

“… 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.”

No doubt intriguing, to which Trump the younger replied:

“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

At last, no more vegan news. Russiagate has finally served up some red meat, and so it began.

In a personal statement released on Monday by Donald Trump Jr, he maintained his innocence regarding the matter: “The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research.” 

By that time the media had already made the jump to hyperspace. The headlines all hummed in unison, gleefully touting along the lines of, ‘At last, they all thought, after 10 months and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, and public money wasted, and thousands of hours of hollow media coverage – we’ve finally got it!’

If the media is to believed, you’d think that every Trump-Russia story is a precursor for his impeachment.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the media by now, it’s that even if it’s an obvious cul-de-sac, they can still sustain a Trump-Russian story for most of the working week. Just this morning, an enthusiastic Washington Post, still going strong, pushed out the headline which read: ‘Category 5 hurricane’: White House under siege by Trump Jr.’s Russia revelations.

Not surprisingly, CNN was just as determined, like a dog searching for its chew toy under the couch. CNN breaking news voiceover presenter announced loudly, “Another potential bombshell report from the New York Times…” the key word here being ‘potential,’ but that’s already a stretch. There are plenty in the media who would like there to be something there, but to paraphrase one of the great political eels of all time, Donna Brazile “There is no there, there.” 

While pushing the story on Tuesday, CNN’s lead paragraph was keen to stress that President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, met a “Russian government attorney” – even though everyone already knew by that time that the attorney in question, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had already stated she had never acted on behalf of the Russian government.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya (Source: The Australian

According to Donald Trump Jr’s own personal statement and email chain released on Twitter, Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya produced no useful dirt on Hillary Clinton at the supposedly magnanimous meeting in Trump Tower and claims the meeting was really about the Magnitsky Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 which contained targeted sanctions against Russian individuals and which also put the brakes on US-Russia adoptions. At the time we were told that Russian President Vladimir Putin viewed the Act as an affront to Russian national interests and retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.

The Magnitsky Affair became the cause de jour for the West as well as the opening salvo in the New Cold War, but according to  veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry the real details of this scandal have been purposefully blocked from Western eyes and ears. Instead, a mythology has been perpetuated which persists to this day thanks to the efforts of one of the scandal’s protagonists, hedge-fund operator William Browder.

Beyond the palace intrigue and the Magnitsky angle, no mainstream journalists seem brave enough to ask the simple question: is there a story here? In the end, no information was passed to Trump, and no crime appears to have been committed. It’s not just a nothing burger, it’s a nothing Big Mac.

Staying to the task at hand, the New York Times kept establishment’s Russiamania on track. Right on queue, the New York Times responded to Trump Jr’s email release by trying elevate the alleged incident to the level of ‘Russian collusion’ with its headline, When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions’. 

CNN also used the opportunity to recycle and repeat what should be by now a discredited piece of fiction by crowing, “The US intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed an influence campaign to hurt Clinton and help Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign…”

Apparently, unhinged editors at CNN are still asleep to the fact that the New York Times had already jettisoned the “17 agencies” fable when they retracted their yarn ten days previous:

After seeming to ditch that big white lie which served as the mainstream’s keystone anti-Russia trope since the last October, the New York Times has since tried to rehabilitate the narrative in Matthew Rosenburg’s frail opus entitled, “Trump Misleads on Russian Meddling: Why 17 Intelligence Agencies Don’t Need to Agree.”

In other words, ‘Yes, we misled the public on the 17 agencies tale, but he’s still guilty.’ 

Assange Intervention

The most amazing turn in this story however, does not have to do with the contents of the emails, but rather who took them public first.

We’re told that someone had possession of the incriminating email chain, and had supplied this to the New York Times. Then, on July 10th, while the story was still percolating, the New York Times boasted: “The Times now has the email to Donald Trump Jr. offering Russian aid to “incriminate Hillary.” 

It seems that while the NYT was gloating over the potential of the story, editor Dean Baquet forgot the golden rule in investigative journalism: publish first, then celebrate. Champagne corks were already popping down on Eight Avenue in advance of the email release, and why not? They really believed they finally had a genuine Russiagate story this time.

Once Trump Jr tweeted out the email chain, the story suddenly shifted away from how damning the revelations are for the White House – to how badly the New York Times fumbled this story. If Trump Jr hadn’t released the emails, it’s a near certainty that the NYT would have cropped and dripped out what it felt were the most juicy bits, and wrapped those in a prefabricated Russiagate narrative, to be disseminated to the Washington Post, CNN, NBC et al.

What incensed the media more than anything was that he had beaten the media to the story by releasing his own emails on Twitter. That canny move by Donald Jr was in part due to the timely intervention and advice by none other than Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who tweeted out after the fact:

Later, Assange explained his actions on Twitter: “I argued that his enemies have it – so why not the public? His enemies will just milk isolated phrases for weeks or months… with their own context, spin and according to their own strategic timetable. Better to be transparent and have the full context… but would have been safer for us to publish it anonymously sourced. By publishing it himself it is easier to submit as evidence.”

Nonetheless, Donald Jr humiliated the New York Times. By telegraphing their story, they gave him an easy opening, in effect beating the New York Times to the punch and thus sucking any available oxygen out of the story. Skillfully done by someone who has had a crash course in hardball PR since has father entered the fray in 2015.

Slightly further up the left-wing of America’s east coast intelligensia food chain, The Atlantic Magazine attempted to re-heat this fabulous nothing burger. With no real story to follow-up on, as a consolation prize, writer Mark Galeotti instead focused on “the bizarre as its cast of characters” surrounding this story as he tried to surmise how indicative of an unelected network of wealthy oligarchs, captains of industry and powerful corporations who really run things in Mother Russia. In essence, The Atlantic’s Galeotti is complaining that there might actually be a Russian deep state permeating the halls of power in Moscow. He states:

“These hybrid relationships extend to virtually every arena of state business. The state media is an engine of propaganda. Private banks and businesspeople are, for the most part, exactly who and what they appear to be, but they are used to funnel money to sympathetic foreign parties and politicians when the Kremlin pleases.”

So, Russia has a deep state too. Is the United States, the UK, or any other Western country  any different?

Interestingly, it was The Atlantic who ran a host of Trump-related ‘deep state’ articles through the latter part of the US election cycle. So it’s: deep state in the USA = an acceptable fact of life, but deep state in Russia = an evil Putinism.

Music promoter Rob Goldstone (Source: Mediaite)

Who is Rob Goldstone?

If there was ever a dodgy actor in this story, it’s this man. We’re told that the instigator-cum-middleman of this affair is one Rob Goldstone, a former Trump business associate from the Miss Universe event, and former promoter of Russian-based pop singer and businessman Emin Agalarov. According to the email chain, it was Agalarov who is said to have prompted the meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, along with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort who was Trump’s newly appointed campaign boss.

Wayward music svengali Goldstone told the future US president’s son, “… the crown prosecutor of Russia” 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 has all the makings of a classic political set-up, with Goldstone positioned as the potential schlepper.

Agalarov’s family attorney Scott Balber told RT:

“Rob Goldstone was a publicist, a promoter for Emin’s musical career. So, they certainly had a relationship in that regard,” Balber said, adding that arranging a meeting about some top-secret information, allegedly coming from the Russian government, was obviously out of Goldstone’s competence.

“Rob Goldstone is an entertainment industry publicist. So, I think it’s fair to say that he was out of his alignment in making these communications. And what he said … is not true.”

CNN’s Kathy Griffin pictured here with Rob Goldstone, date and location of image unknown:

Goldstone appears to be a bit of an artful dodger who keeps some interesting company, including Kathy Griffin of CNN fame (see tweet above). Not surprisingly, Griffin can be seen on Twitter trying to milk the Trump Jr-Goldstone scandal for some extra publicity. It was Griffin, commonly referred to as a “female comedian” – who had her CNN New Years Eve contract canceled following last month’s mock ISIS-style beheading of President Trump.

What REAL Collusion Looks like

The word collusion is a new one for Americans. You almost never heard it before 2017. It came into our cultural lexicon after the previous two iterations of Russiagate were decommissioned due to repeated failures. The first iteration was “Russian hacking” of US elections which despite monumental efforts by the media and Democratic Party – could not actually produce any evidence. ‘Russian hacking’ was later downgraded to “Russian meddling,” which like the hacking meme, led absolutely nowhere. Then came collusion, which in the case of Trump, appears to be going nowhere. Since then, ‘collusion’ has since been lowered to an effete, ‘Russian influence.’

Back in January however, Politico revealed how the Clinton campaign had actually colluded with the Ukrainian government to spread anti-Trump stories and information during the 2016 election.

Unlike the US liberal establishment’s Russiagate Hoax, the Clinton-Ukraine story is real, and a definite breach of numerous codes, and possibly illegal. This incredible story was later summarized here by The Daily Caller:

A veteran DNC operative who previously worked in the Clinton White House, Alexandra Chalupa, worked with Ukrainian government officials and journalists from both Ukraine and America to dig up Russia-related opposition research on Trump and Manafort. She also shared her anti-Trump research with both the DNC and the Clinton campaign, according to the Politico report.

“Chalupa met with Ukrainian Ambassador Valeriy Chaly and one of his aides, Oksara Shulyar, at the Ukrainian Embassy in March 2016 to talk about unearthing Paul Manafort’s Russian connections, Chalupa admitted to Politico. Four days later, Trump officially hired Manafort.

“The day after Manafort’s hiring was revealed, she briefed the DNC’s communications staff on Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia, according to an operative familiar with the situation,” Politico reported.

The Politico report also notes that the DNC encouraged Chalupa to try to arrange an interview with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to talk about Manafort’s ties to the former pro-Russia president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Manafort previously advised.

To make matters worse, the Clinton campaign then actively coordinated a number of mainstream media journalists to spread the information:

In one email released by WikiLeaks, Chalupa told Luis Miranda, then the DNC’s communications director, that she was working with Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff and “connected him to the Ukrainians.”

“A lot more coming down the pipe. I spoke to a delegation of 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine last Wednesday at the Library of Congress – the Open World Society’s forum – they put me on the program to speak specifically about Paul Manafort and I invited [Yahoo News reporter] Michael Isikoff whom I’ve been working with for the past few weeks and connected him to the Ukrainians,” Chalupa told Miranda. “More offline tomorrow since there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I’m working on you should be aware of.”

The Open World Leadership Center, which funded Chalupa’s briefing of journalists about Manafort, is a taxpayer-funded congressional agency

Regarding the media colluding with Clinton, one of the most disturbing examples of this was when CNN’s foreign affairs correspondent Elise Labott (image, left) was caught red-handed coordinating with former Hillary Clinton spokesman and State Department aid, Philippe Reines, on how to damage the public image of former GOP presidential candidate and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul during the 2013 Benghazi Hearings. A batch of emails which was released by Gawker showed how Labott took direction from Reines on how to craft tweets during the January 23, 2013 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing. At the time, Senator Paul was pressing Clinton on the details of Benghazi, and the joint-attack by Reines and CNN’s Labott looked very much like retribution. Both Labott and Reines conferred, before Labott tweeted to her followers: ‘Sen Paul most critical on committee of Clinton, but a little late to the #Benghazi game. Not sure he was at many of the 30 previous briefings.’

This was a clear effort behind the scenes to defame a sitting US Senator by a member of the press colluding with a Clinton operative. You’d think that Elise Labott would have been sacked for this, but after all it’s CNN – which means she not only kept her job, but probably got a pay rise to boot.

We also learned how Clinton campaign operatives had paid large sums of cash to a shady Washington DC firm called Fusion GPS to conduct “opposition research” on Donald Trump. The firm was originally hired by rival GOP primary candidates to research Trump, but after Trump knocked out all 16 of his rivals and secured the Republican Party nomination, Fusion GPS was then re-hired by Democratic Party donors. Fusion GPS used a portion of that money to contract a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, in order to help produce what would later become known as the “Trump Dossier” which was then handed to one of the establishment’s information laundromats, BuzzFeed (owned by NBCUniversal), which was then seized (surprise, surprise) by CNN. Both media outlets happily seized upon the bogus report, claiming to have ‘damning new information on Donald Trump’s ties with Russia.’ Steele’s colorful report claimed that Russia’s FSB intel agency had Kompromat on Trump gathered during a trip to Moscow in 2013. It was this incident which eventually prompted then President-elect Trump to christen CNN and its frivolous correspondent Jim Acosta as “Fake News,” widely regarded as a well-earned label and one which the network hasn’t been able to shake off ever since.

How this cartel of disinformation goes unregistered on the ethics meter by America’s liberal establishment is shocking enough – and speaks to both the built-in bias, and cognitive dissonance that plagues America’s bustling partisan media and political establishments.

Interestingly, UK website The Independent reported how Ms Veselnitskaya is believed to be linked to Fusion GPS. If there is any truth in that claim, then it could lend further credence to the idea that this entire scenario was an establishment stitch-up, possibly to snare the Trump camp in another Russian scandal. According to their report:

“A complaint filed last year claimed that GPS Fusion headed the pro-Russia campaign to kill the Magnitsky Act.”

“Fusion GPS is the company behind the creation of the unsubstantiated dossier alleging a conspiracy between President Trump and Russia,” Senator Chuck Grassley wrote in the letter. “It is highly troubling that Fusion GPS appears to have been working with someone with ties to Russian intelligence – let alone someone alleged to have conducted political disinformation campaigns– as part of a pro-Russia lobbying effort while also simultaneously overseeing the creation of the Trump-Russia dossier.” 

Did Fusion GPS arrange this meeting between Trump Jr and Veselnitskaya?

The firm denies any involvement stating, “Fusion GPS learned about this meeting from news reports and had no prior knowledge of it. Any claim that Fusion GPS arranged or facilitated this meeting in any way is false.”

But that rabbit hole leads somewhere, although it’s not clear exactly where yet.

We do know for sure: that the US mainstream media, especially the New York Times and CNN, cannot be trusted to cover this story fairly or accurately.

Watch as 21WIRE’s Patrick Henningsen discusses the media’s dilemma with RT International on July 11th: 


Patrick Henningsen is an American-born writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire and host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR).

READ MORE TRUMP NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Trump Files




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