Putin says ready to grant asylum to ex-FBI chief Comey1:07
Russian President Vladimir Putin joked on Thursday that if former FBI director James Comey feels persecuted because of his falling-out with U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia is ready to grant him asylum. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
An unnamed member of the family of billionaire Russian Aras Agalarov (right, with his pop star son Emin Agalarov) was the eighth person at the Donald Trump Jnr meeting. Picture: Ethan Miller.
AN unnamed member of a billionaire Russian family with ties to the US President made up a total of eight people met by Donald Trump Jnr in secret talks to discredit Hillary Clinton.
NBC News has revealed that the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jnr on a promise of producing compromising material about his father’s rival was one of eight, not six in the room.
The lawyer was accompanied by a member of the billionaire Russian Agaralov family who was the instigator of the secret meeting.
It was originally revealed that Trump Jnr went to a June 2016 meeting with five people after being promised “information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.
In email exchanges Trump Jnr responds enthusiastically to the promise with, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer”.
New York music publicist Rob Goldstone set up the meeting with the president’s eldest son to take place at Trump Tower.
Present were Trump Jnr’s brother-in-law Jared Kushner, his father’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin.
But it has now been revealed that a member of the Russian Agaralov family, and a Russian translator were also at the meeting.
Mr Goldstone is a former British journalist who has represented John Denver and Michael Jackson.
He runs the Oui2 entertainment company who represents Russian pop star, Emin Agaralov.
Emin is the son of billionaire Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, who owns Moscow’s largest shopping centre and is close to Russian government.
President Donald Trump was the owner of the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 when he chose the Agalarovs to host the beauty competition in Moscow.
Aras and Emin Agalarov hosted a dinner for Trump on the night of the pageant, and Trump appeared in a music video with Emin.
In the same year, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Aras Agalarov with the Russian Order of Honour.
Critics of the US President claim Agalarov has served as a point of liaison between Putin and President Trump.
Another Russian at the Trump Tower meeting, Mr Akhmetshin, is a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who some US officials believe has ongoing ties with Russian intelligence, AP reported.
Mr Akhmetshin has been described as a Washington lobbyist “with an ulterior motive” and with “international connections to different groups in Russia”.
But he told the Washington Post on Friday he was never a spy, and had just served in a Soviet military unit that handled counterintelligence.
According to tweets published by Trump Jr. earlier this week, Mr Goldstone sent him an email last year pointing to “a Russian government attorney” as the source of potential information that could damage Clinton.
That attorney was Natalia Veselnitskaya, who runs an organisation that lobbies Washington to repeal a piece of US legislation known as the Magnitsky Act.
The so-called “Magnitsky sanctions” allow the US to withhold visas and freeze the assets of Russians thought to have violated human rights.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Mr Goldstone wrote.
The White House has yet to comment on the meeting between the Russians and Donald Trump Jnr.
Since the revelations, Mr Goldstone has left the US, taking off on a cruise for the rest of the year.
According to his Facebook postings, he was headed for Croatia, Italy and Greece, and wrote, “That’s It New York, see you next year.”