Investigators are now looking into a pair of financial transactions directly related to the small group of Russians and Trump campaign officials who organized the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in 2016 that has been the source of both consternation and misdirection from the Trump administration since the key players were identified.
Four federal law enforcement agents told BuzzFeed News that investigators are looking at two “bursts” of transactions that show Aras Agalarov and his son Emin, close friends of the Trump family and depicted in countless photos with Trump before he was President, transferring large amounts of money between foreign accounts into long-dormant ones at times and in numbers that banking officials deemed suspicious enough to report.
One such flurry of activity occurred just 11 days after the Trump Tower meeting in which the participants only recently — and only reluctantly — conceded was not about the Russian adoptions that everyone involved first claimed, but rather an intelligence gathering and dissemination proposal regarding “damaging information” about Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton. In that series of transactions, nearly $20 million USD was transferred from foreign holdings in the senior Agalarov’s name to his personal account in New York City.
The second happened immediately after the November election that Trump won by a handful of votes in key states that handed him an electoral college victory. Transactions that caught the eyes of reviewers in that instance amounted to another $1.2 million that made its way from the Agalarovs’ bank in Russia to the son’s account in New Jersey, which hadn’t been used in nearly two years.
Shortly after, money from that same New Jersey account made its way to Ike Kaveladze, the Agalarovs’ emissary at the Trump Tower meeting.
Although the Agalarovs and their network of attorneys insist that all of the transactions were “above board,” the fact is that investigators were alerted to the transactions after having instructed financial institutions in mid-2017 to go back over their records for anything that may be related to the federal investigation, and bankers themselves actually filed the SAR’s, or Suspicious Activity Reports. SAR’s have been used as a tool by US law enforcement to root out drug trafficking, mafia money, and a host of other illegal activity.
Ironically, the new information may actually be used for more than simply evidence in the Trump-Russia investigation.
The date of the first batch of transactions, June 20, 2016, just happened to be the exact same day that the Trump campaign fired former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and replaced him with Russia- and Ukraine-connected Paul Manafort, who ultimately ended up playing a key role in the selection of Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence as well. Any thorough investigation will look into ties between the money and the rest of Trump’s inner circle at the time, including the Vice President — which could spell disaster for Congressional Republicans “banking” on having a compliant backup President, should their figurehead be impeached after a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in November.
Featured image via screen capture