Two weeks ago, new bombshells surrounding the infamous Trump-Russia dossier pointed the finger at the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign, who paid Fusion GPS to compile it. This suggested a pivotal connection between the Clinton campaign and the Russian lawyer who gained notoriety for meeting Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort in June, 2016 — Natalia Veselnitskaya.
At the time, PJ Media wondered whether or not the Clinton campaign urged Veselnitskaya to act as a “honeypot” — drawing the Trump campaign into a meeting with a Russian lawyer as a trap. In orchestrating this meeting, the Clinton campaign could suggest Trump was just as in bed with the Russians as Hillary Clinton was, Uranium One scandal or not.
Recent news substantially confirms the “honeypot” theory, suggesting that the Clinton campaign may indeed have orchestrated the Trump-Russia meeting through Fusion GPS, since the firm was indeed a client for the Clinton campaign.
An unnamed source told Fox News that “hours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom.” Court records, email correspondence, and published reports corroborated this meeting.
Furthermore, the source also told Fox News that Simpson and Veselnitskaya met again after the meeting.
This new revelation underscores the probability of the “honeypot” theory, an idea PJ Media’s Liz Sheld suggested to this reporter.
The theory goes like this. During her time as secretary of State, Hillary Clinton developed unsettling connections to Russian business interests. Most notoriously, she helped approve a 2010 deal giving Russian company Rosatom 20 percent of U.S. uranium, while her husband had just been paid $500,000 for a speech at a Russian bank promoting Uranium One stock.
In recent months, this corruption scandal has only gotten worse. At the time of the Uranium One deal, Rosatom was under FBI investigation, but the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) — then run by Robert Mueller and Eric Holder, respectively — kept the investigation secret, right when public knowledge of it would have mattered most.
According to the anonymous witness behind the Rosatom FBI story, the investigation also uncovered evidence that Russian officials had routed millions of dollars into the U.S. to benefit the Clinton Foundation. Furthermore, at the same time the FBI kept its Rosatom investigation secret, the agency acted fast to bust a Russian spy ring because it got too close to Hillary Clinton.
Already in 2015, conservative journalist Peter Schweitzer had hit on this story in a blistering New York Times article. It stands to reason Clinton’s campaign would want to bury this story, or even better, brand an opponent the “real” puppet of the Russians.
As it turned out, throughout 2015 and into early 2016, Donald Trump was the Republican frontrunner, and he had praised Russian President Vladimir Putin many times. Trump must have appeared the perfect Russian scapegoat to distract from Clinton’s own troubling connections.
Enter Veselnitskaya. In the infamous June meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, this Russian lawyer pressed the Trump staffers on the adoption issue. In Russia-U.S. relations, “adoption” translates into “the Magnitsky Act.”
President Barack Obama signed this act into law in December 2012. The law imposed sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who unearthed massive fraud within the Russian government. He was imprisoned, tortured, and killed for this revelation in 2009. Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder testified that the sanctions “personally” affect Putin’s wealth.
Putin retaliated by banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American families. This adoption had already been restricted to kids suffering with HIV, Down Syndrome, and other diseases, but after the Magnitsky Act, these sick children remained in Russian orphanages.
This Magnitsky-adoption issue has been central to Veselnitskaya’s work, long before the meeting with Trump campaign officials. In fact, she hired Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS in 2014, in order to smear Browder and Magnisky and lobby the U.S. government to loosen the Magnitsky Act sanctions.
By the spring of 2016, Veselnitskaya had developed a cozy relationship with Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS. During that season, Fusion GPS would take on a new client — the Clinton campaign.
In March 2016, the Washington Free Beacon — which had been paying Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Donald Trump — stopped funding opposition research into the GOP frontrunner. While the Beacon had paid for anti-Trump research, none of that research was featured in the infamous Trump-Russia dossier later compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
That month, Fusion GPS reached out to the law firm Perkins Coie to offer anti-Trump research to its clients. In April 2016, Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS for what would become the Steele dossier. As The Washington Post reported, however, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie to do this.
Two months after the Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie, Russian actors reached out to Donald Trump Jr. to set up a meeting between him and Veselnitskaya.
On Tuesday, Fox News revealed that Veselnitskaya met with Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson both before and after the Trump meeting. According to Trump Jr., he scheduled the meeting to get opposition research against Clinton, but Veselnitskaya actually discussed the adoption issue instead.
In fact, in a Monday interview with Bloomberg, the Russian lawyer claimed that Donald Trump Jr. promised that if his father became president, they would “return to this issue and think about what to do with it.” Veselnitskaya admitted the 20-minute meeting was a failure, however, noting that she could not provide the promised anti-Clinton research.
In summary: Veselnitskaya hired Fusion GPS on the Magnitsky issue in 2014. The DNC and the Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS to compile the Trump dossier in April 2016. Two months later, Veselnitskaya met the Trump camp, speaking with Glenn Simpson both before and after the meeting.
As the 2016 campaign wound to a close, Russia continued to emerge as a central issue. The DNC and Clinton pinned the DNC hack to Russia, and Trump quoted emails leaked by WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton called Trump “Putin’s puppet,” making that claim a central argument in the third presidential debate.
It seems increasingly plausible that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, working through Fusion GPS, suggested that Veselnitskaya meet with the Trump campaign. The Clinton campaign would benefit by getting Russia dirt on Trump, while Veselnitskaya would get access to a major presidential campaign in order to bring up Magnitsky sanctions.
Fusion GPS, acting as an intermediary, would have given both sides plausible deniability.
Indeed, according to an FEC complaint, the Clinton campaign and the DNC hid their hiring of Fusion GPS by listing payments to Perkins Coie as being for “legal services” — when they really went to opposition research. Did the Clinton campaign hide its connection to Fusion GPS because it was also using the firm to set up a meeting between Veselnitskaya and the Trump campaign?
There are a few unresolved issues with the “honeypot” theory, however. Why go to such lengths to connect Trump to Putin, when Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort had worked for the pro-Putin Party of Regions in Ukraine?
The Manafort angle would have failed, however, thanks to Tony Podesta, a major Clinton bundler who was indicted along with Manafort on charges of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) while working with pro-Putin actors in Ukraine. Emphasizing Manafort might have revealed Podesta, and his connections to Clinton (after all, his brother John Podesta was Clinton’s campaign manager).
Finally, if Clinton secretly set up the meeting between Veselnitskaya and the Trump campaign, why did she not use that as a weapon in the campaign?
First, the meeting only lasted about 20 minutes, as both Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer have attested. If team Clinton set up the meeting, hoping for either more proof of Trump-Russia collusion or in order to start a long-term Trump-Russia relationship to use as a weapon later, they might have been sorely disappointed in hearing the meeting was a “failure.”
Secondly, Clinton may have decided she did not need this particular dirt to defeat Donald Trump on November 8. The polls nearly unanimously predicted a Clinton victory, and she did not need the Veselnitskaya meeting to brand Trump “Putin’s puppet” in the third debate.
Despite Fox News confirming that Veselnitskaya met with Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson both before and after the Trump Jr. meeting, this does not prove that Clinton’s campaign came up with the idea. However, these breadcrumbs do suggest that a great deal of the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative may have been engineered by Democrats during the 2016 campaign.
If so, this unraveling “honeypot” may redirect the Trump-Russia story to Clinton’s own corruption. In the end, it may be the Democrats more than the Republicans who get stung.