For those trying to untangle the Trump-Russia story, it is on its face a story about money lent and favors owned at the stratospheric level where – cue Ned Beatty – people and nations don’t eexist. David Corn offers a convincing timeline, starting with the involvement of plutocrat investor and Trump business partner Aras Agalarov:
In 2013, he signed up with Trump to bring to Moscow the Miss Universe contest, which Trump co-owned at the time. That deal was brokered by Emin Agalarov, Aras’s son and a middling pop star, and Emin’s manager, a Brit named Rob Goldstone.
For years, Trump had tried to do hotel and condo projects in Moscow. All these endeavors had failed or fizzled. (Trump Vodka had flopped, too.) The Miss Universe event was his only successful venture there. It was good for the Agalarovs. The contest was held in Crocus City Hall, part of a large shopping and exhibition complex they own on the outskirts of Moscow, and they were able to raise their profile and promote their ritzy theater there. Emin, as part of the deal, got to perform two songs before a global audience, which he and Goldstone hoped would boost his career.
The pageant was successful enough for Trump to consider opening another of his awful buildings in Mother Russia. Fast forward to June 2016 and a meeting at said Trump Tower in Moscow, this time with Yury Chaia, prosecutor general, and Agalarov, at which spreading nasty things about Hillary Clinton came up. The latter reaches out to Trump, Jr., who notifies Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. The stage is set for the now infamous June 9 meeting between the interest parties. The rest, as they say, is
The scheme appears to have been put into play by a Putin regime official and a Putin-friendly oligarch who was Trump’s business partner in Russia—and Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager all joined in. (A pop singer, a Russian lawyer, and a talent manager all had supporting roles.) Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort were looking to collude with a foreign power to gain an advantage in the election—an allegation the Trump team has repeatedly and passionately denied.
These stirrings are upsetting Republicans. Joe Scarborough, hiding under the bed with a can of Manwich and his collection of Steve Earle albums when Oliver North was testifying about diverting funds from “moderate” Iranian middlemen to the Contras, announced he was leaving the GOP, that there was too much asshattery. Going to war with Iraq wasn’t enough either.
Most peculiar, mama, as John Lennon sang.