President Donald Trump was magnanimous in victory as the Robert Mueller investigation formally cleared him of Russia collusion and obstruction of justice, according to attorney general William Barr. Trump hinted that investigators will now look into “the other side,” as Rep. Devin Nunes prepares to probe the Democrats who cooked up the media hoax in an effort to divert attention from their Uranium One dealings with the Russian government.
Trump told reporters that the idea of Russia collusion is “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” while White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump and his supporters are “vindicated” and Rudy Giuliani trolled Adam Schiff with a call for an apology.
“It’s a shame that the country had to go through this,” President Trump said.
— GOP (@GOP) March 24, 2019
The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who set up Don Trump Jr. for a meeting in Trump Tower as part of a Fusion GPS plot was operating out of the Washington offices of Cozen O’Connor, a law firm run by an anti-Trump former Obama administration official whose super PAC donated to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential election.
Veselnitskaya’s work from the Cozen O’Connor office provides more evidence of a Democrat and establishment Republican effort to set up the Trump campaign for a future Russian collusion case. Veselnitskaya was allowed into the United States by the Obama Department of Justice while the former Obama official who runs Cozen O’Connor publicly warned then-candidate Trump that if he became president he would be investigated by the DOJ for contacts with foreign leaders. Veselnitskaya reportedly had dinner meetings with Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson the day before she met in Trump Tower and also the day after she went inside Trump Tower.
Big League Politics has confirmed that a Cozen O’Connor partner who lives in the same apartment building as James Comey’s friend Daniel Richman — who leaked classified information to the press on Comey’s behalf — spoke with Richman during the period that Comey and the Fusion GPS team were trying to obtain FISA warrants on Trump Tower.
I reported from outside Cozen O’Connor headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Let’s break down the facts of an Obama administration official’s involvement in the Trump Tower plot:
Russian and U.S. citizen Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet military veteran, was present at Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Don Jr. in Trump Tower after leading a lobbying push supposedly to repeal the Magnitsky Act. Akhmestshin is believed by insiders to be linked to Russian government intelligence, a fact that the Washington Post seized on when reporting that he met with Don Jr. and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower. A nonprofit group focused on promoting Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya’s cause to lawmakers actually hired Cozen O’Connor, which the law firm confirms.
The Washington Post reported (emphasis added):
“In the spring of 2016, as the presidential race was heating up, Akhmetshin and lobbyists he hired sought meetings on Capitol Hill to make their case against the sanctions law. Akhmetshin hired former Democratic congressman Ron Dellums, along with a team of lobbyists from the law firm of Cozen O’Connor.
Steve Pruitt, a business colleague speaking on Dellums’s behalf, said his involvement was brief and ended when he determined that Congress was unlikely to change the law.
In June, after visiting Trump Tower in New York, Veselnitskaya came to Washington to lend a hand in the lobbying effort.
She attended a meeting of the team at the downtown offices of Cozen O’Connor, where she spoke at length in Russian about the issues but confused many in the room, who had not been told previously about her involvement, according to several participants.”
Washington Post passage ends
Cozen O’Connor managing partner Howard Schweitzer is listed here on a DOJ form from an investigation into the breaking of lobbying laws by Russians trying to repeal the Magnitsky Act — which was just a front to get Russians in the room with Don Jr. We know now that Natalia Veselnitskaya was actually operating out of the Cozen O’Connor offices.
Schweitzer worked as general counsel for the Export-Import Bank under George W. Bush and was chief operating officer of the TARP bailout program under both Bush and Obama from 2008-2009.
“In October 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appointed Howard as the first COO of TARP. In this position, Howard led program execution and built the TARP infrastructure. He served as a key point person regarding the financial crisis through the presidential transition and continued to serve as TARP COO under Secretary Timothy Geithner until August 2009,” reads Schweitzer’s Cozen O’Connor bio.
“He served as chief operating officer of the TARP in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations,” reads Schweitzer’s bio for a Politico piece he wrote in August 2016 headlined “7 Reasons Why Trump Would Hate Being President.”
Schweitzer’s virulently anti-Trump piece for Politico tries to make the case that Trump was “sabotaging his own bid for the White House.” Schweitzer said that if Trump became president then “He’ll be investigated to death” by Congress and the Justice Department for his business dealings and “relationships with foreign leaders.”
The narrative was being set.
The Philadelphia-based Cozen O’Connor law firm also has a political action committee that donated to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, in addition to Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Martin O’Malley. In the 2018 election cycle, the Cozen O’Connor PAC donated more money to Hillary Clinton’s dormant campaign.
Here is Veselnitskaya seated behind Obama ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul at a June 2016 congressional hearing focused on Russia.
Cozen O’Connor’s connections to the anti-Trump “Operation Crossfire Hurricane” plot are wide-ranging, and show up in unexpected places.
James Comey’s friend, Columbia University professor Daniel Richman, leaked classified information that Comey gave him. During this leaking period, Richman was apartment-building neighbors with a partner at the Cozen O’Connor law firm that strategized with Fusion GPS operative Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian plant who set up Don Jr. in Trump Tower.
Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS, led by Glenn Simpson, were part of John Brennan and Peter Strzok’s CIA-led “Operation Crossfire Hurricane” plot aimed at President Donald Trump and the Trump campaign.
“Yes, he is my neighbor,” Amy Wenzel, a partner at Cozen O’Connor, confirmed in a phone conversation with Big League Politics, confirming that they spoke. They live near each other in a Brooklyn high-rise.
The Washington Post’s release of Trump Tower documents shows the crowd surrounding non-sexual honeypot Natalia Veselnitskaya. The crowd of conspirators knew they were damaging Trump by setting up the meeting.
The Post confirms British-citizen music promoter Rob Goldstone’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he described the conspirators’ push to get the meeting despite the fact that they knew it would create trouble for the Trump campaign.
“Rob Goldstone told the committee that his client, the Russian pop star and developer Emin Agalarov, had insisted he help set up the meeting between President Trump’s son and the lawyer during the campaign to pass along material on Clinton, overriding Goldstone’s own warnings that the meeting would be a bad idea.
“He said, ‘it doesn’t matter. You just have to get the meeting,’ ” Goldstone, a British citizen, testified.
The intensity with which Agalarov and his father, the billionaire Aras Agalarov, sought the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a key point of scrutiny for congressional inquiries and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, was revealed in more than 2,500 pages of congressional testimony and exhibits released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.”
Washington Post passage ends
Natalia Veselnitskaya is also inextricably linked to the case against Paul Manafort.
The Russian attorney partner of Paul Manafort who was named as a defendant in new Robert Mueller charges is also linked to the Russian spy Natalia Vesenilskaya, who attended a meeting with Don Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower.
According to Mueller’s new charges, Manafort’s Russian partner Konstantin Kilimnik tried to intimidate or coerce witnesses in Manafort’s upcoming money laundering trial. That puts Konstantin Kilimnik at the center of the Mueller effort to find obstruction of justice in Trump-World (Mueller is giving himself until September 1 to try to find obstruction of justice, after finding no Russian collusion involving Trump).
So who is Konstantine Kilimnik? It turns out that Kilimnik is linked to Veselnitskaya, the Fusion GPS agent, according to Senate documents.
Here is how ProPublica described Kilimnik: “Konstantin Kilimnik: Manafort, who worked for the pro-Russian party in Ukraine before running Trump’s campaign, had an employee in Kiev named Konstantin Kilimnik who U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence, according to Politico. Kilimnik served in the Russian army and learned English at a school that experts say often trains spies. Kilimnik denied being a spy to The Washington Post. Manafort had dinner with Kilimnik last August in New York, just before he was forced out of the Trump campaign amid growing questions about his work in the Ukraine, the Post reported.”
Documents reveal Kilimnik’s ties to Veselniskaya. Let’s take a look at United States Senate Judiciary Committee documents questioning Veselniskaya in October. Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Veselniskaya if she knew a handful of characters believed to be conspirators in the case.
Grassley and Feinstein specifically asked Veselnitskaya if she knew Konstantin Kilimnik.
Here is page 4 of the documents, naming Kilimnik:
Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee as senator from Alabama.
Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Don Jr. in Trump Tower provided some of the basis for warrants to surveil Trump Tower and for other FBI surveillance measures on the Trump campaign.
The fact that Veselnitskaya, a lawyer herself, was in the meeting with Trump Jr. and Kushner opened the president’s son and son-in-law up to being qualified as “target associations” for law enforcement under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed during the Bush administration.
Veselniskaya’s link to suspected conspirator Kilimnik is now coming under scrutiny.
Patrick Howley is the founder and editor-in-chief of Big League Politics. He previously served as Lead Hillary Clinton Reporter for Breitbart News during the 2016 election, where his coverage of the Clinton email scandal drove the national news cycle. In his years reporting in Washington, he has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, C-Span, Newsmax TV, One America News, Sky News, BBC Radio, and The Alex Jones Show.
Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?
America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad
Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.
Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy.
In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”
Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.
That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.
Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:
“Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”
Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 24, 2020
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”
All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting:https://t.co/0g3jpVPsDm
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 24, 2020
The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change.
Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.
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