A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that 32% of Americans who voted for President Trump said they don’t believe that Trump’s eldest son met with a Russian lawyer last year — even though he admitted that he did.
Washington Post: “An American-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian.”
“Ike Kaveladze’s presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs’ company and attended as their representative.”
Also interesting: Special counsel Robert Mueller requested Kaveladze’s identity from his attorney over the weekend. It’s the first confirmation that Mueller is investigating the Trump Tower meeting.
“Almost two weeks before Donald Trump Jr. published screengrabs of purported emails indicating that he arranged to meet with a Russian lawyer, President Trump’s re-election campaign paid $50,000 in legal fees to the attorney now representing the president’s son amid ongoing Russia probes,” ABC News reports.
“The payment was revealed in a Q2 FEC report filed on Saturday by the Trump campaign. On June 27, criminal defense attorney Alan Futerfas was paid by the campaign for ‘legal consulting.’ On July 10, Futerfas was hired to represent Trump. However, the FEC filing doesn’t indicate that the June 27 disbursement of funds to Futerfas was made for the purpose of representing Trump.”
“U.S. officials are examining what role a Washington-based lobbyist who they consider a Russian intelligence operative may have played in a controversial June 2016 meeting he attended between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer,” Politico reports.
“Although Trump Jr. has acknowledged meeting Veselnitskaya, he did not disclose the attendance of Akhmetshin, a well-known figure in the capital’s murky world of foreign influence peddling. The lobbyist’s role raises new red flags for U.S. officials as they study whether and how the Kremlin might have sought to exert influence over the 2016 Trump campaign.”
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“The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence,” NBC News has learned.
“The presence at the meeting of a Russian-American with suspected intelligence ties is likely to be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate panels investigating the Russian election interference campaign.”
Associated Press: “Russian-American lobbyist says he attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump’s son that was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican campaign. Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his participation Friday.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told NPR that he has sent a letter to Donald J. Trump Jr. saying that he wants him to testify in an open session of the committee as early as next week and will subpoena him if necessary.
Walter Shapiro: “Donald Trump Jr may have thought that he was devilishly clever by voluntarily releasing the email chain just ahead of a New York Times story. But by putting it out himself, he made it impossible for Republicans with any grasp of reality to denounce the bombshell as ‘Fake News.’ The best that they can now muster – and it was the underlying theme of Hannity’s fawning interview – is to shout, ‘Fake Interpretation.'”
“Somehow that doesn’t have the same ring.”
Norm Eisen and Richard Painter: “The defense that this was a routine meeting to hear about opposition research is nonsense. As ethics lawyers, we have worked on political campaigns for decades and have never heard of an offer like this one. If we had, we would have insisted upon immediate notification of the F.B.I., and so would any normal campaign lawyer, official or even senior volunteer.”
“That is because of the enormous potential legal liability, both individually and for the campaign. The potential offenses committed by Donald Jr., his colleagues and brother-in-law who attended the meeting, and the campaign itself, include criminal or civil violations of campaign finance laws. These laws prohibit accepting anything of value from a foreign government or a foreign national. The promised Russian ‘documents and information’ would have been an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign government — and a priceless one.”
Politico: “While President Donald Trump’s handful of trips to Russia have been meticulously scrutinized, a review of his son’s public statements spanning several years, as well as social media posts and interviews with Russia experts, shows that Donald Jr. spent far more time in the country than his father did, and developed personal ties there that continued beyond the November election.”
“That might help to explain why Trump Jr. was so receptive to an approach last summer by a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton which, as an intermediary told him in an email, was part of a Kremlin effort to assist his father’s campaign.”
New York Times: “While Donald Trump Jr. has been the main focus of the controversy because he set up the meeting, Mr. Kushner faces potential trouble because he currently works in the White House and neglected to mention the encounter on forms he filled out for a background check to obtain a security clearance. The emails were discovered in recent weeks by Mr. Kushner’s legal team as it reviewed documents, and they amended his clearance forms to disclose it, according to people briefed on the developments, who like others declined to be identified because of the sensitive political and legal issues involved.”
“Similarly, Mr. Manafort recently mentioned the meeting to congressional investigators looking into possible collusion, according to the people briefed on the matter.”
Washington Post: “The White House has been thrust into chaos after days of ever-worsening revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a lawyer characterized as representing the Russian government, as the president fumes against his enemies and senior aides circle each other with suspicion, according to top White House officials and outside advisers.”
“President Trump — who has been hidden from public view since returning last weekend from a divisive international summit — is enraged that the Russia cloud still hangs over his presidency and is exasperated that his oldest son and namesake has become engulfed by it, said people who have spoken with him this week.”
New York Times: “Advisers said the president was annoyed not so much by his son as by the headlines. But three people close to the legal team said he had also trained his ire on Marc E. Kasowitz, his longtime lawyer, who is leading the team of private lawyers representing him. Mr. Trump, who often vents about advisers in times of trouble, has grown disillusioned by Mr. Kasowitz’s strategy.”
The New York Post runs an editorial titled, “Donald Trump Jr. Is an Idiot.”
“Democrats and the media are frothing to find something criminal in it all, with the most unhinged talking treason. What it clearly was, was criminally stupid.”
Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged in an interview with Fox News that he “probably would have done things a little differently” when he met with a Russian attorney during his father’s presidential campaign in June 2016.
However, the president’s eldest son also described the meeting as “a nothing.”
He added: “I wouldn’t have even remembered it until you started scouring through this stuff. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.”
Axios has highlights of the interview.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators “plan to examine the meeting and email exchanges disclosed by Donald Trump Jr. as part of the broader Russian-meddling investigation,” CNN reports.
“The details of the interactions between Trump Jr., Goldstone and Veselnitskaya weren’t fully known to federal investigators until recently… Now, Mueller’s probe will look at the meeting and email exchanges that Trump Jr. disclosed as part of its investigation.”