Newly released records and a pattern of efforts by Hillary Clinton operatives employed by Kremlin-linked figures to connect the Trump campaign to Russia indicate the infamous Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign staff may have been a set up.
Lee Smith of RealClearInvestigations reported the first line of evidence includes emails, texts and memos recently turned over to Congress by the Department of Justice.
The records, he said, show how closely senior Justice Department officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with employees of Fusion GPS, the research firm paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to create the still-unverified “dossier” of dirt on Trump obtained from Russian operatives.
Smith noted the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between high-ranking Trump campaign staff, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer is cited as key evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton.
But Smith contends a growing body of evidence indicates “the real collusion may have taken place among those who arranged the meeting rather than the Trump officials who agreed to attend it.”
The records show then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, the fourth-highest-ranking official at DOJ, coordinated before, during and after the election with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, the author of the anti-Trump dossier.
It was Simpson, who did work for the Clinton campaign and Russians, who employed Steele.
Ohr’s wife, as congressional investigators have pointed out, is Nellie Ohr, who was employed by Fusion GPS.
After Steele was dismissed by the FBI for unauthorized disclosures to media, Bruce Ohr became the liaison between Fusion GPS and the FBI, directly relaying opposition research on the Trump campaign.
Their combined efforts resulted in the 35-page dossier, which was used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.
Smith presents a second line of evidence: Beginning in March 2016, FBI and Western intelligence sources, along with the Clinton campaign, approached the Trump team promising dirt on Clinton.
The Trump Tower meeting apparently was the one instance in which the Trump campaign expressed a willingness to receive incriminating information on the Democratic Party nominee.
“These two strands of evidence – the DOJ’s collaboration with Clinton-paid researchers and efforts to connect the Trump campaign to Russia – came together in midtown Manhattan on June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower,” Smith wrote.
“At the center of it all was Fusion GPS, which had two clients whose interests were served by the Trump Tower meeting: the Russians and the Clinton campaign.”
Smith pointed out that in sworn Senate testimony last year, Simpson claimed the Trump Tower meeting corroborated one of the key claims made in the reports filed by Steele: “Trump and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.”
Simpson, however, also testified he had no knowledge of the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and others until it was reported a year later.
Smith said there is reason to doubt that account, because the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was his client.
Veselnitskaya has publicly stated that in the discussion at Trump Tower she used talking points developed by Simpson for the Russian government.
Simpson also has testified that he had dinner with Veselnitskaya the night before the Trump Tower meeting and the night after, Smith noted.
The dossier, however, claims Donald Trump himself, campaign manager Paul Manafort and Carter Page were in clandestine contact with the Russian government.
If that were the case, former FBI agent Mark Wauck told RealClearInvestigations, it’s not clear why the Russian government needed British music publicist Rob Goldstone to entice Donald Trump Jr. to the meeting.
“And why would Moscow need to send a Russian lawyer who didn’t speak English to Trump Tower? That tends to confirm that the meeting was intended as a setup.”