Oligarch’s Lawyer Claims Email Shows Nothing Shady Behind Don Jr. Meeting

Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed by host Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel television program, in New York Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Donald Trump Jr. eagerly accepted help from what was described to him as a Russian government effort to aid his father's campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton, according to emails he released publicly on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Richard Drew/AP

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in July 2016, asked the publicist who arranged the meeting whether she could bring a Russian-American lobbyist, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The Washington Post cited an email provided by a lawyer representing Aras Agalarov, the 51st-richest man in Russia and brought the Miss Universe pageant to Russia in 2013. Agalarov’s lawyer Scott Balber told the Washington Post he was releasing the email to support Agalarov’s claim that the meeting was not part of a Russian effort to elect Trump Jr.’s father as president.

In the email, according to the report, Veselnitskaya asked if she could bring “lobbyist and trusted associate” Rinat Akhmetshin to meet with Trump Jr.

She cited Akhmetshin’s “invaluable knowledge about the positions held by the members of the Foreign Relations Committee that will be important to our discussion” and said he was “working to advance these issues with several congressmen.”

Veselnitskaya sent the email to Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who arranged the sit-down with Trump Jr. as a favor to Agalarov’s son Emin, on the morning of the meeting.

Akhmetshin was one of just two registered lobbyists working on behalf of a foundation on whose behalf Veselnitskaya allegedly lobbied U.S. officials on the subject of an adoption program that Russian President Vladimir Putin ended as retaliation for the imposition of a U.S. sanctions program.

As the Washington Post noted, Veselnitskaya has insisted since the meeting was first reported that she met with Trump Jr. solely to discuss “adoptions.”

Her account—and Balber’s insistence—do not line up with the accounts of others involved in setting up the meeting, including Akhmetshin.

In a July interview with the Associated Press, the lobbyist said that Veselnitskaya brought a folder to the meeting containing documents detailing what she claimed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democratic National Committee.

“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” she said, according to Akhmetshin.

And Goldstone, who set up the meeting with Trump Jr., promised him “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Summer Concepcion is the front page editor of Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Previously, she covered the 2016 presidential election for Fusion and worked as a researcher at The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She's an LA native and former Chicago transplant. Reach her at summer@talkingpointsmemo.com
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