If perhaps you thought that the Russians stopped trying to reach out to Donald Trump after the 2016 election had been decided in Trump’s favor, new emails released by the Senate Judiciary Committee show that Russia was attempting to influence policy decisions during the transition.
Remember Rob Goldstone? He’s the flamboyant British music agent who first suggested the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 where Russian officials would bring “dirt” they had on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump, Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort were all at the meeting.
Goldstone also contacted Rhona Graff, who served as Trump’s personal assistant, via email on November 28, 2016, three weeks after the election. In that communique– which had as a subject “For Mr. Trump” — Goldstone wrote:
“Aras Agalarov has asked me to pass on this document in the hope it can be passed on to the appropriate team. If needed, a lawyer representing the case is in New York currently and happy to meet with any member of the transition team.”
Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast takes the story from there:
“The case was against Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company charged with money laundering. And the document Goldstone passed along made the case for overturning the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions some Russians for human-rights violations.
“‘Russia has evidence that the story underlying the act is a lie from beginning to end,’ reads the document Goldstone sent Graff.”
That very same document also stated that the Magnitsky Act sanctions were part of a larger plot by the United States to harm the Russian economy. And the document contained this line:
“Today, all the conditions required for improvement of relations between Russia and the US, which many of the interested persons have long sought to prevent for some personal reasons, are in place.”
Who did Graff forward the email to? None other than Steve Bannon, who had served as campaign chairman after Manafort was fired when his connections to Russia were revealed. Bannon would later serve as a special adviser to President Trump. Graff included this notation when she sent the email to Bannon:
“The PE [president elect] knows Aras well. Rob is his rep in the US and sent this on. Not sure how to proceed, if at all.”
What did Bannon do with the message? We don’t know, and his attorney declined to comment on the matter.
But again we see connections between Russians and the Trump team, even after the election had concluded. Is that collusion or mere coincidence? Considering all of the other meetings and contacts made between Trump campaign officials and Russian entities, it seems fair to suggest that Trump and the Kremlin have been in bed together for a very long time.
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