Donald Trump Jr. has explained his meeting with a Russian lawyer and her associates last year in many ways since it was first disclosed.
At first, he denied it ever happened.
Then, when the proof that the meeting actually occurred became undeniable, he claimed that the meeting was all about working to reinstate the ability of Americans to adopt Russian children, a claim he continued to repeat even after emails showed (and he was forced to admit) that he agreed to the meeting after being promised juicy tidbits of potentially damaging info on Hillary Clinton.
Now, NPR has issued a damning report showing that the Delaware-based lobbying organization that two of the Russians whom Trump Jr. met with represented is essentially a sham.
Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin were the two Russians at the meeting who were ostensibly lobbying on behalf of the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation. Anyone attempting to visit their offices and speak to someone at the foundation will be sorely disappointed to find out that no one actually works there. The foundation exists only on paper as an “institution dedicated to making it possible for American families to adopt Russian children.”
To know the real story behind the foundation, you have to understand why Russia cut off American’s access to adoption to begin with.
It starts with the murder of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had previously uncovered a corruption scandal involving people close to the Kremlin. The US Congress was so disturbed by the political assassination that they passed a sanctions law, dubbed the Magnitsky Act, that froze the assets of and denied visas to a group of Russians close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In retaliation, Putin, among other acts, banned adoptions of Russian children by American citizens, and Russia began a massive lobbying campaign to overturn the sanctions and get the frozen funds back.
Thus any discussion of “Russian adoptions” is thinly veiled code for repealing sanctions against Russia. In fact, the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation is funded by a Russian oligarch who was sanctioned under the act and who is close to the Kremlin.
Trump Jr. may have thought that the topic of Russian adoptions was a suitably innocent cover story for his meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, but instead it shows just how closely tied to Putin the whole effort actually was.
According to Louise Shelley, an expert in Russian organized crime and corruption at George Mason University:
“The people who met Donald Trump Jr. are close to the Russian power structures. They are part of a network of people working to advance Putin’s interests one way or another.”
“Either they’re part of the legal apparatus that helps him, the political apparatus that helps him, or are engaged in negative public relations campaigns — which are also a very important technique of the Kremlin to go after its enemies,” she said.
With this latest revelation, anyone who thinks the Trump family was concerned about Russian orphans and the Americans who want to adopt them, rather than in getting help from the Russians in winning the election, should check to see if they are suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.