The New York Times has identified another figure who was present at a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian government lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Anatoli Samachornov, a Russian translator, is the latest person to be named from the meeting. Also present were President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former Soviet military intelligence officer and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, and British music publicist Rob Goldstone. CNN reported on Friday that a representative of Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian family who asked Goldstone to arrange the meeting, may also have been there.
Samachornov, who declined to confirm that he was present, told The Times that he was working with Veselnitskaya to lobby against the 2012 Magnitsky Act around the time the Trump Tower meeting took place.
The Magnitsky Act was passed to punish Russians suspected to have been complicit in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a $US230 million tax-fraud scheme in 2008 that implicated high-level Kremlin officials and allies of President Vladimir Putin. The scheme quickly snowballed into one of the biggest corruption scandals of Putin’s tenure. The law authorizes the US president to deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians suspected of human-rights abuses.
Putin has called the law “outrageous” and retaliated in 2012 by cutting off an adoption program allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.
News of the meeting first broke on Saturday, when it was reported that Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort had met with Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. initially said he and Veselnitskaya had met to discuss the adoption program, but it later emerged that he had accepted the meeting to obtain damaging information on then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
A few days later, Trump Jr. posted an email chain which revealed he had been told the meeting was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. did not mention any others who had been at the meeting.
Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, said Friday that Trump Jr. had not disclosed all the facts of the meeting because it “concerns events that occurred 13 months ago that were considered insignificant at the time and essentially forgotten.”
Although Trump Jr. and President Trump have defended the meeting as inconsequential, it has drawn sharp scrutiny as the Trump administration weathers ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into whether it colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
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