New indications that Donald Trump Jr. may soon find his name on Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment docket emerged this week as two previously unrevealed Russian contacts with Donald Trump’s son came to light, raising new questions about the younger Trump’s possible involvement in a wide-ranging collusion scheme between Russia and the Trump campaign to rig the 2016 presidential election.
Trump Jr. became a central figure in the Russia collusion investigation in July go this year, when media reports revealed that on June 9, 2016, he held a meeting in New York’s Trump Tower with eight allegedly Kremlin-connected Russians who had promised to give him derogatory information about the elder Trump’s Democratic election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. was told that the meeting was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” That message was conveyed by Rob Goldstone, a music manager who represented aspiring Russian pop singer, Emin Agalarov, the son of the Russian oligarch real estate developer, Aras Agalarov, and an executive in his father’s business. Aras Agalarov is also a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin and a business partner of the Trumps.
But on Monday, a report by The Daily Beast online magazine revealed that one of Trump Jr.’s contacts at that Trump Tower meeting, accused money launderer Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, had advance knowledge that the Russian government possessed “dirt” on Clinton; knowledge he obtained from one of Emin Agalraov’s high school friends.
Emin Agalarov was reportedly the instigator of the Trump Tower meeting between the Russians and Trump Jr.; a meeting also attended by the elder Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort. Kaveladze, who had worked for the Agalarovs’ company, Crocus Group, was invited to attend the meeting and flew from Los Angeles to New York City to be there, though he was told only that the meeting would be a discussion of “Magnitsky Act” sanctions against Russia.
But a few days before the meeting he was told that the Clinton “dirt” would also be discussed. The person who told him was another Crocus employee, Roman Beniaminov; a high school friend of Emin Agalarov when the pair attended school in Tenafly, New Jersey, according to the Daily Beast report, which also reported that Beniaminov was acting as at least a part-time manager for Emin Agalarov’s singing career.
Emin Agalarov posted a photo of the pair from their high school years on his Facebook page.
While Mueller will likely want to know more about how the group of Russians, all of whom appeared to know in advance about “dirt” on Clinton, came into Trump Jr.’s orbit, the Special Counsel now appears certain also to inquire about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Alexander Torshin, a top executive at Russia’s state-run central bank, and who has been suspected by police in Europe of being the “godfather” of a major Russian organized crime syndicate.
Torshin, a staunch Putin supporter, attempted to set up a “backdoor” meeting between Trump and Putin last year during the presidential campaign, but was rejected by Kushner; reportedly when Torshin’s alleged criminal connections became evident.
But despite the rebuff from Kushner, Torshin was able to meet with Trump Jr. in May of 2016 at a National Rifle Association event. According to a CBS News report, a source said that Trump Jr. and Torshin spoke for “two or three minutes” focusing on their mutual interest in firearms. The presidential campaign was not discussed in the meeting, according to the CBS News report.
Torshin operates a Russian pro-gun organization known as “The Right to Bear Arms,” which advocates “Christianity and gun rights,” and he has been called “the conservatives’ favorite Russian.” Mueller will likely show an interest in any role Torshin may have played in what Goldstone called “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
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