Another person has been identified who was at a June 2016 meeting President Donald Trump’s eldest son set up on the promise that a Russian government attorney would hand him incriminating material about Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Ike Kaveladze, a senior vice president at the company founded by a Russian oligarch who initiated the meeting with Donald Trump Jr., was named Tuesday in U.S. media accounts as the eighth person at the meeting in Trump Tower in New York in the midst of the elder Trump’s successful run for the White House.
Kaveladze’s website says he handles “investment project development, regional business planning and comprehensive tax preparation” for the Crocus Group, one of Russia’s leading development companies founded by financier Aras Agalarov.
An intermediary for Agalarov’s son, Emin, first vice president of Crocus and a pop singer in Russia, engaged in an exchange of emails with the younger Trump that led to his meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. The go-between, music publicist Rob Goldstone, told the younger Trump that he would be meeting with a Russian government attorney who would give him material damaging Clinton to support Moscow’s effort to help Trump win the election.
Two other key Trump campaign officials, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, also were at the meeting, as were Rinat Akhmetshin, a longtime Russian-American lobbyist in Washington who was a one-time Soviet military officer, Goldstone and Veselnitskaya’s translator.
The younger Trump said in the email exchange with Goldstone that he would “love it” if the Russian lawyer had incriminating material on Clinton. However, since news of the meeting surfaced this month, he has said that the lawyer had no information about Clinton and the meeting ended quickly.
President Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray, testified at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that anyone offered a meeting claiming to represent a foreign adversary like Russia should have contacted the FBI.
But President Trump has staunchly defended his son’s actions in setting up the meeting, dismissing its importance as normal political research about an opponent.
On Monday, Trump said on his Twitter account, “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!”
Trump has tried several times to defuse the controversy over his 39-year-old son’s meeting with Veselnitskaya, but it is one focus of numerous investigations in Washington about the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed a campaign to interfere in the U.S. election to help Trump win.
Several congressional panels are interviewing witnesses and scheduling hearings. The younger Trump and Manafort could testify soon.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is now heading a criminal investigation. He is probing contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian interests and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey, then the FBI director who was leading the agency’s Russia investigation before Mueller took over.
President Trump has said he only learned this month of his son’s 2016 meeting.
But Senator Mark Warner, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says that he finds it “unbelievable” that Trump was not told about the meeting a year ago.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll said that 60 percent of those it surveyed believe the younger Trump’s meeting with the Russian lawyer was inappropriate.