By Suzann Thompson
The Mueller Report is a nickname. Its real title is “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election.” Different interpretations of the report make their way into the news and social media, so U. S. citizens should examine the report and come to their own conclusions.
If reading isn’t your favorite thing, or you don’t have time to read, you can listen to the Mueller Report. Spotify offers an audio version, or you can download a free podcast. Audiobooks range in price. Search online for your perfect audio fit, using “mueller report audio.”
My second week of reading the Mueller Report picked up at page 66 of Volume I, with “Russian Government Links to and Contacts with the Trump Campaign.” Here are some of the many reported contacts and circumstances.
Donald Trump met real estate tycoon Aras Agalarov and his son Emin at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, in Moscow.
The Trump Organization and the Agalarovs negotiated an agreement to work together on a Trump Tower Moscow project. The project fizzled out and was dropped toward the end of 2014.
In 2015, another Russian development group, the I.C. Expert Investment Company, contacted the Trump Organization to pursue a Trump-branded building project in Moscow. A Letter of Intent was signed. Real estate advisor Felix Sater and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen worked on the project through summer 2016, but the project faded away.
Other Russians contacted the Trump Campaign, offering meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, political “synergy on a government level,” phenomenal impacts “in a business dimension,” speech opportunities, and trips to Russia. Neither Trump, Cohen, nor any major campaign officials went to Russia.
George Papadopoulos was briefly a foreign policy advisor for the Trump Campaign. He met a professor in London, who told him that the Russian government had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Apparently, Papadopoulos never mentioned the damaging emails to Trump Campaign officials. He did tell representatives from two other countries. One country’s government contacted the FBI, eventually leading to the FBI’s investigation of possible coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia.
Aras and Emin Agalarov reappeared in June 2016. Emin’s publicist, Robert Goldstone, arranged a meeting between Campaign officials and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have documents that would incriminate Hillary Clinton. When Donald Trump, Jr., read about the subject of the meeting, he wrote in an email “if it’s what you say I love it.”
The now infamous Trump Tower Meeting took place on June 9, 2016. Incriminating documents were not produced. A year later, the emails and the meeting dominated national news for a long time. By his own actions, President Trump kept the incident in the news even longer.
The text refers to Volume 2, pages 98-107, so I flipped to those pages and read that President Trump’s first instinct was to forbid his staff to talk about the Trump Tower Meeting. Communications advisors urged him to get out in front of the story by releasing the emails with his own spin on them.
When the emails were made public, President Trump composed a misleading response. A revised statement was released. Media coverage continued, questioning the wisdom and ethics of the President’s actions. This led to the President implying that lying to the press is alright, because the press isn’t some sort of “high tribunal of judges.”
Back to Volume I. Russian contact continued. During the week of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak met with Campaign advisor J. D. Gordon and Senator Jeff Sessions, expressing a wish for improved relations between Russia and the U. S.
Originally, the Republican Party foreign policy platform promised “lethal defense weapons” for the Ukraine to use against Russian aggression. During the Convention, against the instructions of Trump Campaign policy director John Mashburn, Gordon suggested changing “lethal defense weapons” to “appropriate assistance,” making the party platform more favorable to Russia.
Paul Manafort, now serving time for conspiracy to defraud the United States, worked for the Trump Campaign for six months during 2016. Manafort’s major ties to Russia included working for Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy Russian, who has a global business empire and close ties to Vladimir Putin. Deripaska introduced Manafort to a wealthy Ukrainian, who hired him as a political consultant to support a pro-Russian regime in the Ukraine.
Finally, Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national trained at Russia’s Military Institute, was a longtime employee of Manafort’s. An FBI assessment concluded that Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence.
With so many names, I had trouble keeping up with who was who. Luckily, Appendix B (after Vol. II) lists names and brief descriptions of the people and organizations in the report.
Next week, we wrap up Volume I of the Mueller Report.