We’ll probably never know exactly what the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya whispered to Donald Trump Jr. in their meeting at Trump Tower that was arranged by an English publicist, working for an aspiring Russian pop star, whose daddy helped Trump Sr. bring his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.

We only know what was promised to him in emails: “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

A recently disclosed email from publicist Rob Goldstone to Trump Jr. continues: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Collusion? In the everyday use of the word way, yes. Obviously. It’s indisputable Trump Jr., an insider working for a presidential campaign, eagerly accepted Moscow’s underhanded help in beating Clinton.

The legal gymnastics of whether what was conveyed at the meeting at Trump Tower was “anything of value,” and therefore potentially a donation accepted from a foreign government and prohibited by federal election law, are not as interesting as the political poetry of a Trump administration taken down a notch by an email scandal about Hillary Clinton.

“If that’s what it is, I love it,” to borrow the words of Trump Jr. Or, as they say in Russia, karma is a “cyka.”

“Bashka” is how you say “chump” in Russian, according to Google, and surely the word on Veselnitskaya’s mind as she met with the slicked-back-with-a-sheen son of the Republican candidate.

She was no doubt on instructions from the “crown prosecutor” of Russia himself, Vladimir Putin, or at least that’s the best storyline.

The Russian president was still very mad that Clinton in late 2011 said as secretary of state that his country’s parliamentary elections were “neither free nor fair” when 12 million “extra” votes were found for Putin’s ruling party. And don’t forget Putin deeply resented the U.S. Congress for having the nerve to pass the Magnitsky Act, named after a brave Russian whistleblower who died in a Moscow prison, at a time when Congress couldn’t do much of anything else.

This was the 112th Congress, in 2012, when its approval rating was rock bottom because of complete and utter dysfunction. Record low numbers of laws were passed, partisanship was fierce and the budget remained at an impasse. Gridlocked, members couldn’t find a way to work together and prevent the country from going off the fiscal cliff, but Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that Russian thugs who kill whistleblowers are not welcome in America.


We’ll probably never know what exactly Putin said to the 42-year-old Veselnitskaya, described by The New York Times as a “fearsome Moscow insider” before dispatching her to America, but an unnamed source in my head tells me Putin said, as he patted her on the head, “Go now to the dumb one and dangle Clinton catnip. We’ll show the world who has an election fraud problem.”

Trump Jr. claims Veselnitskaya had “no information to provide,” and we’ll probably never know exactly what she teased him with – maybe it was a Photoshopped picture of Hillary Clinton dancing on a table in a bar in Vladivostok swinging around a bottle of vodka with a lampshade on her head.

Or maybe the beautiful Veselnitskaya mentioned to Junior that Bernie Sanders was one of four U.S. senators to vote against the Magnitsky Act, a fact largely unreported during the heated 2016 primary.

Is Bernie Sanders anti-Magnitsky? There’s no missing email about his position, but there appears to be a vote. The law blacklists Russians connected to the death of the gallant whistleblower and to other human rights violations, barring entrance to the U.S. and prohibiting the use of its banking and financial systems. It was coupled with another law granting Russia trade deals, probably a pill too hard for the good senator to swallow.

Sergei Magnitsky was 35 years old and working as a tax lawyer for an American investment company in Moscow when he discovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme being conducted by Russian officials using stolen documents from the firm, according to The Washington Post.

“When Magnitsky accused officials, they arrested him. Magnitsky died in pretrial custody in November 2009 after nearly a year in jail. Despite evidence that he had been beaten and tortured, no one has been punished, and Magnitsky is being prosecuted posthumously,” the Post reported.

The United States Congress came together to pass a law honoring Magnitsky, who was arrested and falsely accused of committing the very tax fraud he uncovered and reported before dying a painful and lonely death in a Russian prison. Congress also punished Russia and there was more retaliation by Putin and friends. Election tampering aimed at Clinton is coming back around via email.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

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Twitter: @dillesquire