If the name Rob Goldstone doesn’t immediately ring a bell, it should. He’s the British publicist at the center of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting Donald Trump, Jr. held with Russian operatives to discuss dirt the Russian government said they had on Hillary Clinton.
Goldstone is a long-time friend and associate of Donald Trump and his children. He’s also well connected in Russian entertainment circles. His Russian pop-star client, Emin Agalarov, is the son of Putin-controlled oligarch Eras Agalarov, the man who helped finance the staging of Trump’s Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.
It was Rob Goldstone, on behalf of Emin and Aras Agalarov, who initially reached out to Donald Trump, Jr. to arrange the meeting, which Goldstone also attended. In his original email to the president’s son, Goldstone wrote:
“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin…”
To this initial overture, Don Junior replied, “Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”
This email exchange, and the subsequent meeting held weeks later, showed for the first time that the Trump campaign was, in fact, working with Russian officials, despite virulent denials all along by everyone involved, up to and including the president.
Both Donald Trumps survived the initial P.R. catastrophe this created, but it appears their legal survival is anything but assured. NBC News reported late Friday that, “sources close to Goldstone and familiar with the investigation say they expect he will travel to the United States at some point ‘in the near future'” to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller.
This would place Mueller’s investigation into Trump Tower, the inner sanctum and nerve center of the Trump campaign, for the first time. In addition to Goldstone, Trump, Jr., Kushner, and Manafort, the meeting was attended by Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya; Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, an Agalarov family associate; and Rinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist tasked with getting Obama-era sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs lifted. A Russian translator also attended.
When news of this previously undisclosed meeting broke in July of this year – nearly a year after it took place – only Veselnitskaya had been named as attending. Don Jr.’s initial explanation – crafted with the president’s help – was that he met with her to discuss Russian-American adoption policies. Only days later, when more attendees and the substance of the emails were revealed, did he admit that he had taken the meeting to receive what Team Trump characterized as “opposition research.”
Goldstone’s role setting up that meeting is potentially damning to the Trump family, and the fact that he appears ready to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation should make every Trump apologist worry.