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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kompromat. Plus: "It is Art Company"

It has been confirmed that, during that infamous meeting in Trump Tower, the Russians did indeed present a dossier to Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. From the start, I have argued that the meeting's purpose was not to divulge compromising material on Hillary Clinton but to outline a smear campaign.

Why do I think this way? Simple: During the campaign, we saw no incriminating evidence against Hillary. We did see plenty of smears. The Trumpers would not have kept the real dirt hidden while hammering Hillary with lies about emails, the Clinton Foundation and the candidate's health -- not to mention the absurd early Pizzagate stories which appeared just before the election.

Seth Abramson offers another possibility: What if the Russian file contained kompromat on Donald Trump, not on Hillary Clinton? Perhaps the initial offer of dirt on Hillary was simply a ruse designed to make the meeting happen.

I've taken the liberty of translating Abramson's tweets into conventional prose. His words appear below the asterisks -- and below that, you'll find a few further words from yours truly.

* * *

The New York Times now reports that the intel dossier left with Don (that he now can't recall) came from the king of Russian kompromat. No less than Fox News has noted that if the Trumps received top-shelf Clinton kompromat, they would have used it during the campaign.

We know from the Manafort-Priebus call a week before the inauguration that the Kremlin's kompromat on Clinton involves Ukrainian money. The Trump campaign clearly had that kompromat -- which is why Manafort told Priebus to release it -- but never used it during the campaign.

Don Jr. received a dossier of intel just two days after the Russians were certain the general election would be Trump versus Clinton. Don Jr. is now lying -- per participants in the meeting -- about the existence of any such dossier, and POTUS seems to be lying about it too.

It's not clear why Don would go out of his way to hide that the campaign received negative intel about Clinton. POTUS already admits it. The month of the meeting is the month Chris Steele began investigating the Russian operation to compromise Trump via Kremlin kompromat.

We know Don Jr. lied not just about receiving a dossier, but also about its contents -- which he (falsely) said were "vague and ambiguous." If Steele is right -- the Kremlin is blackmailing Trump -- at some point Putin had to have confronted Trump with a copy of Kremlin kompromat. The Russian attendees to the June 9th, 2016 meeting are such Russia and Putin loyalists they could be trusted to carry Trump kompromat.

I am neither saying I know this is true or even that I necessarily believe this is true. But it must be one investigatory theory. It would explain the need to hold such a risky general-election meeting at a place controlled -- and secured -- by the Trumps themselves.

What I'll say is this: all indications are that Trump received a dossier of kompromat, never disclosed it, and is lying about it now. And the need for such ongoing and spectacular public deceit only makes sense if the dossier was damaging to Trump, not Clinton.

P.S. And as I have noted in multiple threads, the two men who set up the meeting -- Aras and Emin Agalarov -- are known and proven Kremlin agents. And these known and proven Kremlin agents sent a representative to the meeting to make sure everything went well and to report back.

If the meeting was just to dump a dossier on the Trump campaign—not to discuss anything in the dossier—it could just be delivered. Somehow the Kremlin felt there had to be a gaggle of Putin loyalists in the room when Jr, Kushner and Manafort received the dossier.To be clear: perhaps the dossier was both files: Trump and Clinton kompromat. But some Trump kompromat being included makes sense.

* * *

Cannon here. I'll add this: The Steele dossier says that the Kremlin also made an attempt to gather dirt on Hillary. As I recall, the primary finding was that Hillary would say things in private that sharply diverged from her public statements; I don't recall anything about Ukraine. There are no details about these hidden private views, but they seem to have led Putin to think that he might -- grudgingly -- be able to work with Clinton, though he obviously preferred Trump.

The standard caveat: Much of the Steele dossier has not been verified, although some parts have been borne out by subsequent investigation. The dossier has not been "discredited," even though desperate pro-Trump propagandists often make that claim.

The eighth man in the room has been identified as real estate tycoon Ike Kaveladze, who says that he showed up to translate for Veselnitskaya, who already had a translator. Pull the other one, Ike: Guys on his level don't do translation.
In November 2000, a Government Accountability Office report—requested by then-Sen. Carl Levin—identified International Business Creations, a business run by Kaveladze, as being responsible for opening more than 2,000 bank accounts at two U.S. banks, at the behest of Russian-based brokers. The accounts were used to move more than $1.4 billion from individuals in Russia and Eastern Europe to various spots around the world.

“It is relatively easy for foreign individuals or entities to hide their identities while forming shell corporations that can be used for the purpose of laundering money,” the report determined.
Politico visited the nondescript offices in New Jersey where Kaveladze and Agalarov have set up mysterious business.
Business filings list Kaveladze as the founder of a company called IBC Group, which shares a New Jersey address — 333 Sylvan Avenue in Englewood Cliffs — with several shell companies connected to Aras Agalarov.

One of those firms is Saffron Property Management, which Agalarov reportedly used to purchase an $11 million condo in Florida last year.
The others include CI Publishing, PB Consulting, Russian Art Mall and a company called RJI Properties, which is run by two childhood friends of Agalarov's son, Emin, a well-known Russian pop-singer.
A POLITICO reporter visiting the nondescript office building where all of these companies are headquartered found that the suite linked to Agalarov and Kaveladze was empty, with unopened mail sitting by the door. A sign in the lobby indicated that the suite belonged to IBC and Russian Art Mall, which was founded in 2000 and registered to Emin Agalarov, who is a partner in his father's business.

"They're current on the rent. They're on our rent roll, they're just quiet," George Sayrafe, who said he has managed the building for 20 years, said. "I hadn't heard anything. Some tenants bother you, you know what I mean? These people, I haven't seen them in a long time."
Kaveladze was named in a round of news stories in 2000, when Congress was examining Russian money laundering through U.S. financial institutions.

At the time, Kaveladze was identified in contemporaneous news reports as the originator of thousands of Delaware-based shell corporations.

Through his company, which was at the time called International Business Creations, Kaveladze formed 2,000 corporations for Russian brokers, which helped steer more than $1.4 billion in wire transactions through U.S. banks, according to the Congressional inquiry.
RJI Properties is a real firm -- or rather, there are several companies going by that name, in Texas, Staten Island, North Carolina and Virginia.

There is also a firm called PB Consulting in the UK:
PB Consulting is a communications consultancy with an excellent track record in running high profile campaigns. We run engaging campaigns that help create policy, shift public opinion and develop supportive relationships.
I've seen no evidence of a link to Cambridge Analytica; if you know of such a link, please share. I've also seen no evidence linking the British version of PB Consulting with any Russians operating in New Jersey.

My favorite, of course, is Russian Art Mall:
Russian Art Mall; Inc located at 333 Sylvan Ave Suite 309,ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS,New Jersey,USA,It is Art company, Tel is 2018681950 (+1-201-868-1950),fax is 2018718481 (+1-201-871-8481),address is 333 Sylvan Ave Suite 309.This company SIC code is 841210,SIC Name is Museums, art galleries, and botanical and zoological gardens,You can find more Russian Art Mall; Inc contact info like fax,email,website below.
"It is Art Company." I love it! Oddly, this Art Company seems to have established no discernible online presence in the world of art.

Comrades! I am showing you now photo of actual New Jersey office building in which is being located many enterprises -- including glorious RUSSIAN ART MALL! Remember: It is Art Company.

(Wouldn't it be freaky to learn that there really is an office in there which houses works by Kandinsky and Aivasovsky?) 

A link between PB Consulting and Cambridge Analytica - now you're asking! Unfortunately I haven't found one yet.

The listed officer at the British company PB Consulting Limited is Paul Bristow. One of his other appointments is at Fulham Investment and Property Company Limited, which I had a quick look at because of how much Russian money is invested in property in London. The officers at that company include Tara John Douglas Home, whose grandfather was the prime minister, Alexander Douglas Home.

Other than that, going by their mugshots and hairstyles the PB Consulting crew don't look like bigshots. Bristow was a local councillor who failed to win a parliamentary seat for the Tories in 2010.
So Irakly Kaveladze was there. Had he met Trump before? And ... what was Trump doing during the Russia-Georgia war of 2008? :innocent face:
You can get an idea of the sort of art available at Russian Art Mall here. (BTW, the site you referenced for Russian Art Mall business info must have a munged database; the phone number listed is for a Bergen, NJ, pediatrician's office.)
Isn't it begging the question to assert that the June 9 meeting was about the election and how to win it? The principals are business (or "business") people, not professional or experienced political operatives. One topic might include the crucial matter of Trump's legitimate and also questionable financial connections and whether, if elected, he would have to cease being personally involved. If so, then the issue forks into If, Then. The sanctions issue matters, but it seems to be below the Trump principals' pay grade. Only after the lawyer gets assurances that no one will try to grab her by the pussy, does she offer to help the election in return for specific sanctions relief; but that is of secondary or less importance than the financial interests.

As for a dossier with kompromat on Clinton, the Trump campaign can't very well put it into the wild without someone discovering its source or hand-off. It's not inconceivable that the alleged kompromat in general was 'discovered' by an FBI source and precipitated both the Weiner laptop warrant and the Comey October letter, and so forth.
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