NEW YORK CITY — Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze was the eighth person at Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting last June with a Russian lawyer, Scott Balber, an attorney representing Kaveladze, confirmed to CNN.
Kaveladze attended the meeting as a representative of Aras and Emin Agalarov, the wealthy Russians who first requested the meeting be arranged. He works for the Agalarovs’ real-estate company, Crocus Group, and Aras Agalarov asked Kaveladze to attend the meeting on his behalf, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Balber told The Post that someone from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office had called him over the weekend and requested the identity of the Agalarovs’ representative at the meeting. The request is the first public sign that Mueller’s team is looking into the meeting, according to The Post.
The meeting also included President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya; the British music publicist Rob Goldstone; the former Soviet military intelligence officer and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin; and the Russian translator Anatoli Samachornov.
Kaveladze has lived in the US and been a citizen for many years, Balber told The Post. He is also a member of the US-Russia Business Council and the Georgian Association in the USA. His résumé says he has been the vice president of Crocus Group since 2004 and that he is “an important part of the channeling of its foreign investments.”
Kaveladze was implicated in a Russian money-laundering scheme in 2000, during which investigators found that several Russians and Eastern Europeans had formed shell companies and used them to move money through American banks.
The New York Times reported at the time that Kaveladze had set up more than 2,000 corporations and their bank accounts in Delaware for Russian clients without knowing who owned the corporations.
When reached for comment by The Times, Kaveladze said he had done nothing wrong and called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
Balber told The Post on Tuesday that Kaveladze initially believed he was attending the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya as a translator but realised after arriving that Veselnitskaya had brought Samachornov as her translator.
The meeting has attracted sharp scrutiny in recent days, as Trump Jr.’s statements on its purpose have continued to evolve.
Trump Jr. said in an initial statement that the meeting had been a “short introductory” one and that he and Veselnitskaya “primarily discussed” an adoption program that Russian President Vladimir Putin cut off in retaliation for the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which blacklisted Russians suspected of human-rights abuses.
Shortly after, Trump Jr. posted an email thread between himself and Goldstone which appeared to show that he had accepted the meeting to obtain damaging information about then-candidate Hillary Clinton. The emails also appeared to confirm that he was aware before the meeting took place that it was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump’s outside legal counsel initially said he was unaware of the meeting at the time.
It was reported soon after news of the meeting broke, however, that Trump himself had signed off on Trump Jr.’s first statement on the matter, which subsequently needed to be amended several times to address new details that spilled out about the meeting.
Trump Jr. has so far confirmed all the facts of the meeting as they have been reported.
When his lawyer, Alan Futerfas, was asked why Trump Jr. didn’t disclose those details when the initial report came out, Futerfas said it was because the reports concern “events that occurred 13 months ago that were considered insignificant at the time and essentially forgotten.”
Trump Jr. announced he had hired Futerfas to represent him in the ongoing probes following initial reports about his meeting. But on Saturday, it emerged that Trump’s re-election campaign made a $US50,000 payment
in June to Futerfas’ office. The payment was made weeks before news of the meeting became public knowledge.
In recent days, new questions have also been raised about whether Trump could have been involved in the meeting. They emerged after Trump’s lawyer’s assertion on Sunday that the meeting between the president’s son, top campaign staff, and the Russians was innocent. If it weren’t, he said, the Secret Service would not have let the Russians into Trump Tower.
“Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me,” Sekulow added.
But the Secret Service released a statement the same day confirming that Trump Jr. was not under its protection on June 9, 2016. The agency said it “would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.” Neither Kushner nor Manafort were under Secret Service protection at that point.
The meeting has been said to have taken place on the floor beneath the one Trump occupied during the campaign. Trump had just clinched the Republican nomination at the time, and he was also under Secret Service protection.
Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.
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