New Report Puts Ivanka Trump At The Center Of The Russia Probe For The First Time
The news media often portraits Ivanka Trump, as an ex-model, mother of three, and a so-called “public champion of working women. But behind the scenes, she appears to be pulling the levers of power, calling the shots, and working alongside people like Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman with reputed mob ties who served jail time for stabbing a man in a bar fight.
Behind the facade, the president’s daughter appears to be directly connected to events at the heart of the Russia scandal. But she has, so far, evaded the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, at least publicly.
A new report by The Intercept just revealed those events and questions why Ivanka Trump’s involvement in the Russia scandal is still invisible to the public.
From The Intercept:
“As Mueller’s investigation broadens, the so-called first daughter is becoming a long overdue part of the bigger story of alleged corruption at the Trump Organization. Last week, we learned that the FBI is looking into the financing and negotiations surrounding her involvement with Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, which is home to an Ivanka Trump-branded spa. That inquiry may be unrelated to the Russia probe, but it should draw scrutiny to Ivanka’s business dealings and how they relate to her father’s political rise.
The mainstream press frequently describes Ivanka — who recently denied any collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians — as the head of a fashion company. Yet she was also a top executive at the Trump Organization and a hard-charging, and often quite effective, dealmaker for the real estate development company. Despite her entrenched role in the West Wing and status as one of her father’s most trusted advisers and emissaries on matters as wide-ranging as G-20 and the Winter Olympics, her identity — carefully curated on social media and through her press operation — hinges on issues such as female entrepreneurship, maternal leave, and being a mother to highly Instagrammable kids. It’s a persona that renders the media establishment and broader public largely incapable of considering that she might be a key player in the Trump-Russia narrative.”
The report highlights these key events in the Russia scandal:
1. Ivanka was present at a controversial meeting aboard Air Force One on the way back from the G-20 summit in July, when Trump administration staffers and the president himself drafted a response to reporters’ questions about a meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. The statement, now exposed as a cover-up, said the meeting was focused on Russian adoption when it was really to discuss potentially damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Ivanka, according to “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff, attended the Air Force One gathering, which is now reportedly of interest to Mueller.
2. She was one of three people – along with her husband, Jared Kushner, and Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller – whom the president consulted before deciding to fire then-FBI director James Comey. Their motive for encouraging Comey’s ouster, Wolff claims, was fear for their own fortunes: Ivanka and Kushner were influenced by Jared’s father Charlie Kushner’s “panic” that the “Kushner family’s dealings were getting wrapped up in the pursuit of Trump.” The couple, whom Wolff dubs “Jarvanka,” became, in his words, “co-conspirators” in the Comey firing, which is being investigated as a possible obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense.
3. Ivanka actively defended Paul Manafort, the former lobbyist indicted by Mueller on 12 counts of tax evasion, foreign lobbying, and laundering $75 million in payments as part of a pro-Russian initiative in Ukraine, as well as new charges filed last month. Ivanka reportedly printed out Manafort’s pitch letter and gave it to her father because she and Kushner thought Manafort would “bring professionalism” to the campaign.
4. She also backed former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. In a 2016 meeting of the Trump transition team’s executive committee, Ivanka asked Flynn: “General, what job do you want?” “It was like Princess Ivanka had laid the sword on Flynn’s shoulders and said, ‘Rise and go forth,’” the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported. Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials and is now cooperating with Mueller.
5. She traveled to Moscow with Felix Sater before Trump’s run for president. Sater claims he arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin’s office chair at the Kremlin. Ivanka told the New York Times that she may have sat in Putin’s chair, but “she did not recall it.” And Bayrock, the company where Sater was managing director, helped finance Trump SoHo, a lower Manhattan condo and hotel project that Ivanka oversaw –she was close to being charged with felony fraud for inflating the building’s sales figures, according to The Intercept.
6. The first daughter also had a conversation with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya just minutes before the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Ivanka described the conversation with Veselnitskaya as “brief.” Of course, a “brief” conversation with shady Russian nationals hardly proves that she colluded with the Kremlin.
This series of events and decisions might help explain why former Trump administration chief strategist Steve Bannon labeled Ivanka and Kushner “Russia Toxic,” according to Wolff. The author says this was Bannon’s way of warning his White House colleagues not to speak to the couple lest they jeopardize their careers by getting entangled in Mueller’s investigation.
“Why is Mueller not interviewing Ivanka?” asked CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin, a former prosecutor who worked for Mueller at the Justice Department. “The answer is, beats me. Either he’s just biding his time or he has obtained this evidence elsewhere and he doesn’t need her, or he appreciates the possibility of a major eruption were he to do that.”
You can read the entire report here.