Tower Struggle

Emin Agalarov’s outspoken publicist, Rob Goldstone, landed his client in an awful lot of hot water with Robert Mueller thanks to some overly candid emails – but there’s one particular slip of the tongue that may yet prove to be extremely significant. Especially with regards to that piss tape…

The story was only ever going to end this way, of course. There really was no other option.

Earlier this week – on the advice of his lawyers, who had some pretty concrete fears about their client becoming tightly entangled in the ongoing Mueller investigation – Emin Agalarov cancelled all four dates of his North American tour.

To the devastation of tens of dozens of fans, Emin has pulled his New York, Toronto, Miami and LA dates citing concern that he may be held under a material witness warrant and compelled to stay in the US until the special counsel’s investigation is complete.

Which makes sense. Whatever merit there may or may not be to Mueller’s case, there’s no getting around the fact that Emin is a central player in the story – so the chance of him being subpoenaed the second his plane touched down was always somewhere in the range of Definite to Extremely Definite.

Emin hasn’t really helped himself in that regard either. In interviews he has given from the relative safety of Russia, way beyond the reach of Robert Mueller, he has spoken a lot more freely about his phone conversations with Donald Trump Jnr than Don Jnr has – thereby making himself a very obvious target for official questioning.

He probably also hasn’t done much to endear himself to the special counsel with his glib (and uncharacteristically funny) response to being implicated in the entire Russian probe – by filming a music video filled with parody versions of Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Stormy Daniels and a whole host of scantily-clad escorts whooping it up in a hotel suite, recorded to promote his single Got Me Good.

To top that off, shortly after his last visit to the States Emin unveiled a new character: Jose Mamedov, a bungling secret agent spy.

It’s a weird creation – sort of like if James Franco had been cast as Johnny English – but Emin seems to really like dolling up as this secret agent character. Certainly enough to keep a separate Instagram account for him, which gets regularly updated.

If this is all a deliberate acting of trolling, designed to flick the Vs at Mueller, then we have to hand it to the boy. It’s sublime stuff.

But, as we established in Part One, Emin is no real mastermind. At heart, he is really just a polite, moneyed child with a cushy job at his dad’s firm, who has ambitions of selling out Madison Square Garden with his Elvis Presley leathers, his Frank Sinatra covers and his Michael Bublé promo photography.

So how the hell has the world’s richest pop star now found himself slap bang in the centre of the most consequential investigation in American politics for nearly 50 years?

And, more importantly, what does any of it tell us about the long-awaited Donald Trump piss tape?

Let’s start with Emin Agalarov’s music publicist, Rob Goldstone…

Comedy Gold

A former Sun journalist-turned-music publicist, for a while it looked as if Rob Goldstone’s major contribution to pop culture history was going to be nothing more than a series of photos of him looking distinctly uncomfortable and unchummy with some of the biggest artists of the 20th century.

Not any more though. Now his modest achievements in the world of celebrity publicity are at risk of being overshadowed in the history books by a couple of other things.

First, his social media footprint – which is as gloriously demented as you could hope for…

…but, more notably, his involvement in setting up the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in 2016.

This is the meeting that took place in Trump Tower New York, about five months out from the election, in which three members of the official Trump campaign met with two Russian lobbyists (with ties to the Kremlin) under the promise of procuring some “incriminating dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Goldstone was the man who got the ball rolling on this particular meeting, who didn’t really mince words when he made his opening gambit. Rather than paraphrase what Goldstone said, here’s the actual email he sent Don Jnr.

It reads:

Good morning
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.

On the face of it, it seems clear enough. The offer being put forward is that, if Don Jnr was agreeable to meet, Emin Agalarov (the guy who sang at his father’s Miss Universe contest back in 2013; the one who had been discussing a potential Trump Tower Moscow partnership) had some explosive info on his opponent that could help to support Trump Snr’s candidacy.

Efforts have since been made – on all sides – to paint Rob Goldstone as some eccentric, British bullshit artist who was really only trying to bolster his own part in the proceedings. And, admittedly, it’s hard for a man swanning about in a golden cunt cap to prove that he is actually a serious force in high-level politics.

But while Emin, Don Jnr and Rob all now say that it was nothing more than an attempt at showing off that has backfired horribly – there’s still something about the whole thing that doesn’t quite add up, and Emin is the sticking point.

Because he’s so desperate to be a pop star, Emin Agalarov has tried to play this whole situation to his advantage. Rather than being consumed by the scandal, he is actively trying to use it to boost his career. Not just by creating silly parody videos which he hoped would act as musical clickbait; but by leveraging his notoriety and offering candid interviews with anyone and everyone who wants to give him exposure.

So long as he’s billed as being Russia’s richest pop star, and can show off his motorbikes, his studio and his cat, then he seems to be happy to chat to anyone about anything – including the sort of stuff that Donald Trump Jnr seems to suggest he has no recollection of.

In an interview with Vice, Agalarov drops a pretty hefty bombshell – saying that he remembers that he spoke to Don Jnr on the phone ahead of the meeting in Trump Tower, and gave him a heads up as to what the meeting was going to be about.

Emin’s clear memory of the events sits in stark contradistinction with Don Jnr’s though, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn’t recall who he’d spoken to ahead of the meeting.

It’s no wonder therefore that Mueller would take such an interest in getting Emin to give some sort of formal testimony to this effect. Emin evidently sounds as if he could fill some significant gaps in the Don Jnr timeline, which would go some way to giving a more complete account of what happened on the day of that contested meeting.

It’s also no wonder then that Emin’s lawyers had been getting so antsy about these gigs he’d booked, forcing him (“against his will”) to cancel his North American tour. He’s been so chatty in his promotional videos that Mueller will be a little suspicious if he suddenly clams up under questioning.

One area in which Emin still won’t be drawn though – no matter how flattering the puff piece is – is who ultimately asked to arrange that Trump Tower meeting.

Emin says that was only setting it up as a favour to his father, Aras, because someone had asked Aras to do them a favour, and Aras had simply punted it over to Emin. Emin, in turn, passed it down the line to Rob Goldstone – and now Rob Goldstone’s email forms the very crux of a case of potential collusion.

So can we make an educated guess as to who it was who maybe made the original request to Aras Agalarov? Yes, we can. And it’s thanks to another bit of frank, unguarded chat from Emin in the same Vice interview.

When asked about Rob Goldstone’s introductory email (the one which alludes to the Hillary dirt) Emin had this to say:

“If you read that email carefully, the title that Rob used does not exist [in Russia] so it was literally Rob just making this as important as he can.”

The title Emin means here is “Crown Prosecutor”: a job that doesn’t exist in Russia (largely on account of them having no crown).

This argument – that Rob Goldstone was just making shit up – would hold a bit more of water if Rob Goldstone was Russian. If so, he could reasonably be expected to be a little hotter on the structure of the Russian establishment, and know that there’s no such person as the Crown Prosecutor.

But Rob Goldstone isn’t Russian. He’s British, and Britain is a constitutional monarchy which does have Crown Prosecutors. It’s possible – plausible, even – that this was a case of Goldstone remembering a job title that he was familiar with and inaccurately transplanting it across to its Russian counterpart.

It’s no real stretch of credibility then to suggest that what Rob Goldstone meant by “Crown Prosecutor” was actually “Prosecutor General”. It’s a fairly easy mistake to make – and one that’s even easier to make when you learn who Russia’s Prosecutor General is.

Yuri Chaika. Ally of Vladimir Putin. And friend of Aras and Emin Agalarov.

Yurine Business

We don’t really have the space (and you probably won’t have the appetite) to wade extensively through the complicated web that is the last twenty years of Russian politics. Instead, we’ll confine ourselves to one very narrow, very specific part of it all. The bit that we (and you) are obviously most interested in: the piss tape.

How can Rob Goldstone’s little job-title faux pas shed any possible light on the piss tape? Like this.

If we are to believe that Goldstone wasn’t bullshitting with his broader claim that a senior Russian prosecutor had been trying to hand dirt on Hillary Clinton iver to Emin Agalarov in the hope that the popstar-property developer could get it into the hands of his good friends, the Trumps (and Goldstone appears to be sticking to that story) then Yuri Chaika would be an obvious candidate.

Not just because of his workplace connections to Putin. Nor because of his reported communications with the lobbyist who was present at the Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Not even because of his friendship with Aras Agalarov. There’s something else significant in Chaika’s past that makes him a prime suspect in this.

His history with kompromat.

Chaika picked up the rather clunky nickname “The Master Of Kompromat” because of the part he played in the downfall of another Prosecutor General at the turn of the century: a different Yuri, Yuri Skuratov.

Yuri Skuratov was Russia’s Prosecutor General between 1995 and 1999, and his tenure came to a rather inglorious end when he started investigating allegations of high-level corruption in the Kremlin. Shortly after those investigations got underway in ’99, a video which supposedly showed Skuratov cavorting naked in bed with two young prostitutes in a hotel room was ‘discovered’ and broadcast on Russian state television.

Despite resigning over this, Skuratov insists that the man in the video wasn’t him and that he was stitched up. The theory holds up when you learn that the man who authenticated the video as being ‘real’ (thereby sealing Skuratov’s fate in the eyes of the Kremlin) was Yuri Chaika – who, by some extremely fortuitous stroke of luck, found himself becoming Acting Prosecutor General in Skuratov’s subsequent absence.

And what of the man who allegedly handed the video over to state TV? That was rumoured to be the then-head of the FSB, Vladimir Putin.

Within a year, Putin would become President of Russia and Chaika had been picked to head up the Justice Ministry at his recommendation.

Chaika has been Prosecutor General in Russia since 2006. Is he the person that Rob Goldstone was referring to when erroneously mentioning the “Crown Prosecutor”? Could it be that the Master Of Kompromat is the man working the strings behind the whole Trump Tower meeting? We don’t know. But one of the few people who will is Emin Agalarov.

In fact, he may be the best possible person to ask.

Don Jnr wasn’t present for the Miss USA pageant in Vegas (he was, at the time, still happily married to Vanessa Trump – who, you’ll remember from Part One, attended the same college as Emin in New York). But Emin was.

Don Jnr wasn’t at The Palazzo Hotel and Casino which played host to a notorious piss-play performance at The Act nightclub – one that Trump Snr allegedly saw. But Emin was.

Don Jnr wasn’t at the meeting where a consignment of prostitutes was allegedly sent up to Trump’s suite that night (only to be refused entry by Trump’s bodyguard). But Emin was.

Emin was there in Moscow for Miss Universe – the site of the supposed piss-tape filming.

By Goldstone’s account, Emin was the one who took delivery of something from a senior Russian prosecutor, who we can reasonably assume was Yuri Chaikov.

We know Emin was the one who asked Rob Goldstone to set up the subsequent meeting. We know from Emin himself that Emin called Don Jnr ahead of that meeting to check in.

At every stage in the proceedings, one of the only characters who remains a constant – either physically, or by phone – is Emin Agalarov. He’s somehow even more wrapped up in this story than Donald Trump himself. Is it any wonder Mueller’s so keen to speak?

Obviously we realise that none of this definitively proves the existence of a piss tape. All of this could just be a horrible misunderstanding. But given all the good information that Vice managed to get out of Emin Agalarov simply by pretending they were interested in his pop career? Mueller only needs to pick up a copy of After The Thunder to take for a post-gig signing and the whole investigation could be wrapped within the hour.

We just have to hope Emin can rearranges his tour before 2020…