Roger Stone talks to reporters outside a courtroom in New York, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Stone, a longtime political provocateur and adviser to President Donald Trump, is being sued over a flyer sent to 150,000 New York households during the state’s 2010 election that called the Libertarian Party candidate for governor, Warren Redlich, a “sexual predator.” Stone says he had nothing to do with it. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

 

The salient feature of the whole Russian collusion story is not that the Trump campaign is alleged to have reached out to Russia for help, but that on at least two occasions alleged Russian contacts reached out to Trump campaign operatives with the exact same offer, that is, Russia had “dirt” on Clinton and was willing to give it to the Trump campaign. Up front, even were this true, assuming the “dirt” were legitimate and not manufactured disinformation, I don’t see the moral, legal, or ethical problem with that. In fact, we know from the experience of Fusion GPS that using Russian sources to gather “dirt” on a candidate, even when said “dirt” is as phony as a three-dollar bill, is still no legal or ethical issue. If there were, then Robert Mueller would be investigating the shenanigans of Glenn Simpson’s merry band of hoaxsters.

As far as we know, the first contact was made, apparently by Joseph Mifsud, with George Papadopoulos. Mifsud, you’ll recall, knew Stefan Halper, the FBI asset, and Halper knew Christopher Steele who was busily working on the Trump dossier. Papadopoulos was told the Russians had “thousands of emails” from Hillary Clinton. This has been represented by the media as having some relationship to the DNC server being hacked. That is doubtful. By the time Papadopoulos was in London working with Mifsud, we knew that some 30,000 of Hillary Clinton’s emails had been washed away in a cleansing douche of BleachBit. And we know that, out of the blue, Halper asked Papadopoulos about the emails.

The second known case of outreach to the Trump campaign took place at the infamous meeting in Trump Tower where two Fusion GPS stringers, a Russian lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin named Natalia Veselnitskaya and a former Russian intelligence officer named Rinat Akhmetshin, had promised the Trump campaign “dirt” on the Clinton campaign, this time in the form of money laundering to finance her campaign (which was happening). The operation was a bait and switch, the two Fusion GPS people wanted to talk about repealing Magnitsky Act sanctions–an interest of Fusion GPS–but the damage had been done.

Now we have a third case of a Russian-appearing source pushing “dirt” on Clinton towards the Trump campaign.

One day in late May 2016, Roger Stone — the political dark sorcerer and longtime confidant of Donald Trump — slipped into his Jaguar and headed out to meet a man with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a viscous Russian accent.

The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone, who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said.

“You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”

Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting after Greenberg had approached Caputo’s Russian-immigrant business partner.

“How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote, according to a text message reviewed by The Post. Noting that Greenberg wanted “big” money, Stone replied, “waste of time.”

This is the clincher:

They cite records — independently examined by The Post — showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.

Interviews and additional documents show that Greenberg has at times used the name Henry Oknyansky. Under that name, he claimed in a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status that he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years. He attached records showing that the government had granted him special permission to enter the United States because his presence represented a “significant public benefit.”

So now we have a third Russian offering “dirt” on Clinton. This, you will note, is shortly after Mifsud told Papadopoulos about the emails.

According to accounts in Russian media, he was arrested in 2002 and charged with a decade-old $2.7 million fraud. The Moscow Times reported that authorities found three passports with false names in his apartment and photographs that appeared to show him posing with movie directors Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone.

The Post was unable to determine the outcome of the case from public records. Greenberg denied wrongdoing, saying that he was not convicted and that the case was closed.

Greenberg returned to the United States, according to immigration records that he submitted as part of his federal court filing in 2015.

He attached to the statement government documents outlining his immigration history.

Between 2008 and 2012, the records show, he repeatedly was extended permission to enter the United States under a “significant public benefit parole.” The documents list an FBI agent as a contact person. The agent declined to comment.

And the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had also been barred from entering the US but received a special parole to do so on the occasion of the Trump Tower meeting.

The more details that are divulged on this story, the more it is beginning to look like Peter Strzok’s “insurance policy” and his boast of “we won’t let him [Trump]” be elected were a statement of FBI policy.