Another name added to the list
Lawyer: Russian developer's staffer also at Trump Tower meet
WASHINGTON — Revelations that a Russian developer’s representative was the eighth attendee at a Trump Tower campaign meeting arranged by President Donald Trump’s eldest son prompted a new round of castigation on Tuesday from Democrats. It also brought word that the special counsel investigating possible Trump campaign ties to Russia wants more information about the sit-down.
Officials from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller reached out over the weekend to a lawyer for Ike Kaveladze, who also goes by the name Irakly Kaveladze, attorney Scott Balber told The Associated Press. Kaveladze works for a Russian developer who once partnered with Trump to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow,
Balber’s comments are the first public indication that Mueller is probing the June 2016 gathering in Trump’s namesake New York City skyscraper.
In emails, Trump Jr. enthusiastically agreed to the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others after he was promised dirt on his father’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton. He has since denied such material ever materialized.
Kaveladze works for Emin and Aras Agalarov and was there to represent them, according to Balber, who is serving as legal counsel for both Kavaladze and the Agalarovs. The father and son, who worked with Trump on the pageant in 2013, were named in the emails that promised damaging information on Clinton.
Balber cast Kaveladze as a minor player in the meeting, saying he had “no idea what the subject of the meeting was until an hour before” and doesn’t remember saying anything other than his name during the discussion. Balber said Kaveladze believed he was attending the meeting to translate for Veselnitskaya, but the attorney brought her own interpreter.
Veselnitskaya said the meeting focused on U.S.-Russian adoption policies and a sanctions law. She has denied working for the Russian government.
Democratic lawmakers skeptical of that account repeated their concerns on Tuesday.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said his panel wanted to talk to the meeting’s attendees.
“I doubt if this individual who had a history of setting up thousands of fake accounts in Delaware was really there to talk about Russian adoptions,” Warner said.
Warner appeared to be referring to a 2000 New York Times story that identified Kaveladze as running a company cited in a Government Accountability Office report for laundering $1.4 billion in wealthy foreigners’ funds via U.S. banks using thousands of Delaware corporations.
Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, who ordered the GAO report, called Kaveladze the “poster child” of using hidden ownership of American shell corporations to launder money.
Balber disputed that characterization, noting that no criminal charges were filed in the case.