A bombshell report just confirmed the key underlying premise of the Trump-Russia dossier

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A new report in The Guardian just confirmed the lede sentence of British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s Trump Russia dossier, which claimed that Russian efforts to recruit Donald Trump stretched back five years before the 2016 election.

Igor Krutoy, who was a Putin campaign surrogate in this month’s Russian sham “election” and close associate of the Agalarov family, met with Donald Trump in June 2011. 

The Trump Organization sent a scout to Riga, Latvia in 2010 which eventually led to the four-hour meeting that took place at Trump Tower with Krutoy, and two other Latvian businessmen who wanted to build a Vegas-style hotel and entertainment venue.

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Donald Trump had begun planning his presidential campaign only two months earlier in April 2011 by commissioning polls and hiring longtime confidante Roger Stone, along with sidekick Sam Nunberg. Steele’s dossier begins:

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Krutoy also happens to be a musical composer for Crocus City developer Aras Agalarov’s son Emin, who combined to bring Miss Universe to Moscow in 2013, and whose manager Rob Goldstone setup the June 2016 meeting about Hillary Clinton’s emails with Don Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner.

The Agalarovs and Krutoy are so close that they’ve owned homes next door to each other in America for many years, in multiple states.

Shortly after Donald and Ivanka Trump’s meeting with Krutoy, Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) opened an inquiry into the Trump Organization’s plan to open a venue with similarities to Moscow’s Crocus City, which hosted Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow.

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According to local press reports, Latvian authorities sent a formal investigatory request to the FBI after a lengthy investigation on February 14th, 2014. Just a few short months before Donald Trump declared his presidential campaign. Jon Swaine of The Guardian reports:

“Latvia asked the US for assistance in 2014 and received a response from the FBI the following year, according to a source familiar with the process. Latvian investigators also examined secret recordings in which Trump was mentioned by a suspect.”

“The Guardian has learned that talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after [Igor] Krutoy and another of the businessmen were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there – and that the FBI later looked into Trump’s interactions with them at Latvia’s request.”

“Krutoy, a well-known composer in Russia, has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer whose father hosted Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow. Krutoy attended the contest, where he was photographed with Trump. [He is] 63, was a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign and has received major state honours from the Russian government for his music.?

KNAB’s investigators spoke to one of the Latvian businessmen, Viesturs Koziols, and with Igor Krutoy about what they regarded as a shady deal, in late 2011.

A graphic illustrates the relationship between Trump and Agalarov family associate Igor Krutoy via The Guardian

All parties denied that the investigation deterred them from closing the deal with the Trumps, but the Latvian investigation continued all the way through Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, at least.

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The Guardian reports that the Koziols, who also met Donald Trump with Ivanka for four hours in New York City’s Trump Tower, says that the Riga concert hall deal fell through because of lack of financing.

Donald Trump Jr. visited Riga, Latvia in 2012 – which Occupy Democrats reported in October 2016 – speaking in a video interview about his frequent trips to Russia for the family business.

After the 2016 US election, Baltic International congratulated Donald Trump and released a series of previously unseen photos depicting Don Jr. meeting Valeri Belokons, the bank’s majority owner, personally.

It turned out that Donald Trump Jr. had visited Latvia in May 2012 for a paid speaking gig soon after KNAB’s investigation had begun, and when the family’s real estate deal lacked financing.

Last summer, Baltic International Bank confirmed to this author, that Donald Trump Jr. visited, but the bank denied that he was there for another business opportunity involving Belokons.

The bank’s owner Valeri Belokons stands out as a top-level money launderer for accepting Mexican cartel cash from El Chapo’s Sinaloa gang with the now-defunct American bank Wachovia Just 18 months ago, Baltic International Bank was fined in October 2016 by Latvian regulators for literally writing a Russian language “how-to” launder money manual.

Then, Belokons was convicted in absentia of money laundering by the former Soviet state Kyrgyzstan, after he pursued a successful, but false civil claim in an international court against that government. But Belokons’ Manas Bank proceeded to lose a decisive, subsequent Paris appeals court case to Kyrgyzstan’s government because they proved he was laundering money.

It’s not a stretch to imagine that Donald Trump Jr. personally met with Belokons in 2012 to ask him for a loan to continue his family’s big plans in Riga.

Latvia is a former Soviet state that’s home to a thriving banking sector infamous for laundering the proceeds of Russian corruption, including millions of dollars from the  Hermitage Capital tax fraud, which led to the Magnitsky act sanctions that Putin’s agents discussed at Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting during the election.

So it would not terribly surprising that the Trump Organization’s extensive business ties to Latvian money launderers and Putin-connected developers could lead to an FBI investigation long before Donald Trump’s plans to run for office were announced.

But this certainly seems like one of the reasons that Donald Trump weakly declared that investigating his family’s Russian business ties was a “red line” to Special Counsel Mueller, a line, which he has very publicly crossed.

Now, The Guardian‘s reporting has exposed a factual basis for one of the Trump Russia dossier’s central claims, that Putin’s efforts to recruit Donald Trump began with a closely-linked businessman, five years before the 2016 election.

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.

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