Last week, btw took a quick look at the developing questions surrounding Donald Trump Jr. and a meeting that he had with Russian representatives during his father’s presidential campaign. This week, as more and more information is revealed, we examine the case in a more in-depth way.
In June 2016, Trump, Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone, one of President Trump’s former Russian business partners. In this email Goldstone said that he had sensitive information that could damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House. Trump, Jr. said that he wanted to hear the information, and he arranged a meeting at Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. On July 8, 2017 Trump, Jr. admitted to the meeting. However, he said that it was mostly about adoptions and did not actually contain research about Clinton.
According to Trump, Jr, aside from himself and Veselnitskaya, the only others present at the June 2016 meeting were Paul Manafort–who was then chairperson of the Trump election campaign, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.
But further investigations have brought the total number of participants to eight. The most recent addition is Ike Kaveladze, an American citizen and an employee of a Russian real estate company. Kaveladze said he attended the meeting as a translator, even though another translator–Anatoli Samochornov, a former State Department employee–was already there. Also present at the meeting were Rob Goldstone, who sent the first email to Trump, Jr.; and Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist who was once a military counterintelligence officer for the Soviet Union. Akhmetshin is known to have worked to remove U.S. sanctions on Russia.
The question now is, how does this meeting affect the Trump administration’s position regarding the ongoing investigation for their involvement in Russian tampering with the 2016 presidential election?
Though Trump, Jr. initially claimed that the meeting was about adoptions, he eventually admitted that he took the meetings because he was promised information about Hillary Clinton. He then used Twitter to reveal screen shots of his email exchange regarding the meeting (the subject line of the email chain was “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential”). President Trump admitted that his son attended the meeting to gain information about Clinton but defended it as a normal part of the political game. Days later, however, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer contradicted both Trumps at an off-camera briefing with reporters, saying that the meeting was just about adoptions.
The meeting is currently under investigation by both the House and the Senate, as well as by special counsel Robert Mueller.