Russian efforts to influence President Donald Trump didn’t end with the campaign. Newly released emails show the man who set up the Trump Tower meeting also sent a letter aimed at undermining U.S. sanctions against Russia during the transition to Trump’s personal assistant, who shared those materials with Steve Bannon.
Rob Goldstone is a British music agent who represented Emin Agalarov, son of billionaire construction magnate Aras Agalarov. Goldstone in June 2016, acting on behalf of the Agalarovs, contacted Donald Trump Jr. about meeting a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
On Nov. 28, 2016, Goldstone emailed Trump’s assistant, Rhona Graff, with a proposal. Subject line: “For Mr. Trump.”
“Aras Agalarov has asked me to pass on this document in the hope it can be passed on to the appropriate team,” Goldstone wrote in an email released Wednesday morning by the Senate Judiciary Committee. “If needed, a lawyer representing the case is in New York currently and happy to meet with any member of the transition team.”
The case was against Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company charged with money laundering. And the document Goldstone passed along made the case for overturning the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions some Russians for human-rights violations.
“Russia has evidence that the story underlying the act is a lie from beginning to end,” reads the document Goldstone sent Graff.
The document went on to argue that the Magnitsky Act sanctions were part of a plot to undermine Russian economic interests, and that Bill Browder, who was Sergei Magnitsky’s boss before he died in a Russian prison, was a bad actor working for his own financial gain. The letter also suggested U.S.-Russia relations were set to improve under Trump.
“Today, all the conditions required for improvement of relations between Russia and the US, which many of the interested persons have long sought to prevent for some personal reasons, are in place,” the document said.
Graff forwarded the email and document to Steve Bannon, who was working on the transition at the time.
“The PE [president elect] knows Aras well,” Graff wrote to Bannon. “Rob is his rep in the US and sent this on. Not sure how to proceed, if at all.”
Bannon’s lawyer declined to comment for this story.
Goldstone was a tabloid journalist before he started represented musicians, including John Denver and Michael Jackson. In New York, he’s known as a playboy with a penchant for vodka-soaked parties at the Russian Tea Room and documenting his flamboyant lifestyle on social media.