Washington, July 19 (IANS) The eighth person who joined Donald Trump Jr. at his meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked attorney to discuss damaging information on Hillary Clinton was a US-based representative of a Russian real estate firm.
Ike Kaveladze, a naturalised US citizen, is vice president of the Crocus Group, owned by Azerbaijan-born Russia magnate Aras Agalarov, who worked with the Trump Organisation in 2013 to host the Miss Universe pageant in Russia, Xinhua reported.
The encounter between Donald Trump Jr. and attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was set up by Briton Rob Goldstone, a publicist associated with pop singer Emin Agalarov, the son of Aras.
Scott Balber, a US lawyer representing the Agalarovs, said Kaveladze attended the Trump Tower meeting at their request.
Balber said that he was contacted over the weekend by the office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, with a request for the name of the Agalarov representative who was present for the meeting with Trump Jr.
Word of the enquiry from Mueller’s office is the first public signal that the special counsel is looking into the June 2016 discussion.
Trump Jr. was joined at the meeting by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and by Paul Manafort, who was then chairman of the Trump campaign.
Veselnitskaya asked Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin to accompany her and she also brought a translator, former US State Department employee Anatoli Samochornov.
Goldstone was also on hand.
Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, and Manafort are being targeted by investigators looking for evidence of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
In an interview last week with The Washington Post, Akhmetshin said that in the course of her work for clients, Veselnitskaya had discovered that a US hedge fund which “seemed linked to the (Democratic National Committee)” was operating in violation of Russian tax and securities law.
He added that Veselnitskaya “left a document behind” after the meeting with Trump Jr.
But Don Jr. said that Veselnitskaya turned out not to have any information on Clinton and was instead seeking to lobby the campaign on a separate matter.
Veselnitskaya said in an interview that she had no links to the Kremlin and never possessed any incriminating information about the Democratic presidential candidate.
The main lobbying activity of both Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin appears to be on behalf of Russian businesses who have been hurt by US sanctions.