The controversy surrounding Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner is continuing to unfold, with some of the most recent revelations being that the members of the Trump team and Veselnitskaya were not alone in the room during their meeting.
Now, CNN is reporting that federal investigators want to talk to the last individual in that meeting who has thus far remained publicly unidentified. Although his identity has not yet been publicly revealed, individuals involved with the issue have described him as a “translator,” and his identity is apparently known to the federal prosecutors seeking his testimony.
Since the initial revelation that an eighth person attended the infamous Trump Jr./ Veselnitskaya meeting, the role of this yet to be identified eighth participant in Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya has been explained as serving as a representative of the Agalarovs, the Russian family who wanted the meeting to take place. (It’s Emin Agalarov’s agent and publicist — Rob Goldstone — who sent the initial email to Trump Jr. inviting him to meet with Veselnitskaya.)
Attorney Scott Balber, who is representing the unidentified translator and the Agalarovs, told CNN on Tuesday:
‘The eighth person has been identified by prosecutors and we are cooperating fully with prosecutors as a result of the investigation. To preserve the integrity of the investigation we are declining to identify him at this time.’
Besides the three members of the Trump team, Veselnitskaya, and the unidentified representative of the Agalarovs, Rob Goldstone, a Russian-American lobbyist with suspected ties to Russian intelligence named Rinat Akhmetshin, and a translator named Anatoli Samachornov were also at the meeting.
Balber explained to CNN that his client, the “translator” in the employ of the Agalarovs, is “a long-time US citizen who speaks fluent Russian and has never had any engagement with the Russian government in any capacity.”
It’s obviously not surprising that Balber would claim that his client has no connection to the Russian government. Others involved in the meeting have also claimed that they have no connections to the Russian government, but the email that Goldstone sent to Trump Jr. in 2016 inviting him to meet with Veselnitskaya literally markets the information she would share as coming from the Russian government.
Balber says that his client, “the eighth person,” was invited to the meeting on the understanding that he would be serving as Veselnitskaya’s translator, but when he got there, he found that the lawyer already had a translator. This individual presumably reported back to the Agalarovs as to the perceived success or failure of the meeting.
It’s been reported that Veselnitskaya left a set of documents at the meeting-place, although it’s unclear what happened to those documents. Trump Jr. was upset that the lawyer’s information was not as complete as he would have liked, and he and his allies have used this defense — that nothing actionable came of the meeting — since news of the Trump team’s interactions with Veselnitskaya first came out.
For now, it’s up to the office of Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller to figure out where the information shared at that meeting came from and whether or not anything illegal happened.
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