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Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who connected Russians to the Trump campaign, is talking again

Remember him?

Rob Goldstone via Facebook
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Rob Goldstone is back.

The British music publicist who brokered a meeting between the Trump campaign and four Russians in the summer of 2016, then became famous last summer for doing so, is talking again.

Goldstone went quiet once emails between him and Donald Trump Jr surfaced in July. Now he given his first interview since the story broke. It’s with the The Times of London, and in it Goldstone explains how and why he arranged the meeting, while downplaying its significance.

Goldstone now says his outreach to Donald Trump’s son, where he said there was “very high level and sensitive information” about Hillary Clinton available as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump,” was full of “puffery”.

His intent, Goldstone says, was to arrange a meeting with the Trump family and his client Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose father is oligarch Aras Agalarov. He says he didn’t think much about the language he used to approach the Trump campaign, or the content of the meeting, which he attended.

I’ll leave it to professional Trump followers — including Robert Mueller, whom Goldstone says he plans to talk to — to interpret Goldstone’s commentary. Though it seems to me the key part of the incident is the Trump campaign’s willingness to meet Russians who said they had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

As I read it, that includes Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who in Goldstone’s telling was “furious” during the meeting — because Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya didn’t provide information about Clinton. Goldstone: “I believe that she practised a classic bait-and-switch. She got in there on one pretext and really wanted to discuss something else.”

Back to Goldstone: He tells the Times he’s been hanging out in Asia, as part of a previously planned year-long trip around the world. He says he’s as surprised as anyone that he has a featured role in the ongoing Trump/Russia story: “Look, I’m quite loud, I’m quite brash and openly gay on social media,” he says. “I don’t exactly fit the mould.”

About that social media part: Until today, Goldstone seems to have clammed up on Facebook, where he used to post lots of selfies of himself in ridiculous hats. But his account is still up and running, and occasionally his friends tag him in posts: There is a series of posts from this fall featuring restaurants in Thailand. (I’m Facebook friends with Goldstone, and when I saw them I assumed the tags were jokes, because why would Goldstone want people to know where he was if he wasn’t talking in public? But now it looks like they were real, after all.)

Now Goldstone is using the account again — to promote himself. Today’s post is a video of someone flipping through a print edition of Goldstone’s profile, with this caption: “Today — after many months — I got my voice back and told my story exclusively to the U.K. Sunday Times Magazine.”

Presumably Goldstone will have more Facebook posts to come, when he publishes a book he says he’s writing. Working title: “Useful Idiot: How an Email Trumped My Life.”

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