Wednesday June 20th, 2018 3:17AM
12:57AM ( 2 hours ago ) News Alert

Cast of characters populates the Trump campaign-Russia drama

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MOSCOW (AP) — A billionaire real estate mogul, his pop singer son and a music promoter. A property lawyer, Russia's prosecutor general and a Russian-American lobbyist.

These unlikely figures have come to the fore as revelations that Donald Trump's presidential campaign sought potentially damaging information in June 2016 from Russia about his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

In emails sent shortly after Trump secured the GOP nomination, music publicist Rob Goldstone offered to connect Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The emails show Goldstone telling Trump that singer Emin Agalarov and his father, Moscow-based real estate developer Aras Agalarov, had "helped along" the Russian government's support for Donald Trump.

Goldstone also mentioned that a Russian prosecutor offered to provide the information on Clinton to the campaign. Goldstone mentioned Russia's "crown prosecutor," but may have been referring to Russia's top justice official, Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, the equivalent of the U.S. attorney general.

A look at some of those involved in the email exchange and the meeting at Trump Tower that followed:


Real estate tycoon Aras Agalarov, 61, and his 37-year-old singer-songwriter son, who goes by the stage name Emin, both spent time with Trump in Russia after they bought the rights to hold the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The event, held at the elder Agalarov's Crocus City Mall, cost him $20 million, he told The Associated Press earlier this year. The son performed at the pageant and Trump went to his birthday party, which coincided with the contest's finale. The future president also appeared in a music video with Emin while in town.

The elder Agalarov told AP that Trump "was thinking of building" a Trump Tower in Moscow and that they proposed a site. "He was considering this, but it didn't come to signing any deals," Agalarov said.

When he returned to the U.S., Trump tweeted to Aras on Nov. 11, 2013: "I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!"

"Your performance at Miss Universe was fantastic - you are a STAR!" he followed up in a tweet to the son a day later.

Emin, a partner in his father's real estate business, responded: "Thank you so much for all your support! You are a great Man."

Although Aras Agalarov does not belong to President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, he has amassed numerous government contracts, an indication of Kremlin patronage. Putin has built a system in which the rich are expected to chip in for his pet projects in return for privileges in securing state loans or getting lucrative contacts. The Agalarovs have built infrastructure for an Asian summit off the coast of Vladivostok in 2012 and are finishing two stadiums for the 2018 World Cup.

Emin Agalarov was married for several years to the oldest daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, and they had twin sons. They were reported to have separated in 2015.

Aras Agalarov tried to get Trump an audience with Putin in 2013, but the president canceled the session, the Washington Post reported, instead sending Trump a friendly letter and a lacquered box in appreciation.


The British-born Goldstone is the co-founder of Oui 2 Entertainment, a Manhattan-based music management company that says on its website it has represented Michael Jackson and BB King, among others.

The Agalarovs hired Goldstone to help with the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Goldstone has worked with Emin Agalarov since then, most recently organizing a concert featuring Canadian musician David Foster in St. Petersburg last year.

In an interview Monday with the AP, Goldstone said he set up the 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and said Veselnitskaya stated that she had information about purported illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee that she thought Trump Jr. might find helpful. Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting, Goldstone said, and it was attended by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort.

The day after Trump was elected, Goldstone posted a photo on his Facebook page showing himself sitting next to Emin and Trump with the caption "The A Team — headed to the White House!" Other photos that he has posted show that he was in Russia at least three times last year and twice in Azerbaijan, the Agalarovs' home country.


Veselnitskaya started her career at the prosecutor's office in the Moscow region in 1999, but became known after 2001 for defending property deals that her opponents and activists labeled corporate land grabs. In the deals, run-down collective farms and bankrupt research centers were bought on the cheap or seized for expensive shopping malls, residential properties and highways.

In Russia's notoriously corrupt court systems, good connections are important, and she has them. She is married to Alexander Mitusov, former deputy prosecutor for the Moscow region, and she has represented the family of Pyotr Katsyv, vice president of state-owned Russian Railways and former transportation minister for the Moscow region. In 2012, the respected Novaya Gazeta newspaper documented how Veselnitskaya, her husband and the Katsyvs allegedly were involved in major corporate raiding cases.

She also represented Katsyv's son, Denis, in a money-laundering case in Manhattan that was settled for $6 million in May, three days before it was to go to trial.

The case was related to a $230 million Russian tax-fraud scheme that was brought to light by a whistleblower named Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested and died in a Moscow prison in 2009. An official Russian investigation of his death said he suffered a heart attack, but a report by the presidential human rights commission found that Magnitsky was beaten and denied medical treatment. In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, imposing sanctions on Russian officials involved in alleged human rights violations in the case. Russian lawmakers responded by passed a measure that banned Americans from adopting Russian children.

Veselnitskaya helped promote a documentary that disputed the fact that Magnitsky uncovered the tax fraud and that he was beaten in jail. Human rights activists dismissed it as an attempt to whitewash torture.

William Browder, who led a campaign to bring Magnitsky's killers to justice, said Veselnitskaya ran "a fully funded operation" to promote the film and her client's interests in the United States.

Veselnitskaya has denied having any compromising information about Clinton. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin does not know who she is, adding that it "cannot keep track" of every Russian lawyer and their meetings in Russia or abroad.


Chaika, prosecutor general since 2006, is a longtime confidant of Putin and one of Russia's most powerful law enforcement officials. The Russian president nominates the prosecutor general, who is approved by the upper chamber of parliament. In Putin's 17 years in power, the chamber largely has been a rubber-stamp body.

In 2015, Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, Putin's most popular opponent, published a damning investigation that detailed what he described as shady deals involving Chaika's sons and other senior prosecutors. It documented how the sons built a business empire on their father's connections. One son, the investigation alleged, was involved in business deals with the wives of Russian gangsters who terrorized a town in southern Russia until they were arrested and charged with killing a family of 12 in 2010. Despite evidence that local prosecutors had turned on a blind eye on the gang for years, Chaika kept his job.

Chaika called the accusations false and accused Navalny of following someone's "order" to discredit him. Amid public pressure to investigate Chaika and his family, Aras Agalarov was one of the few to spring to his defense, buying a newspaper ad lashing out at Navalny and dismissing his findings as relying on "groundless accusations."

Public calls to investigate or fire Chaika fell flat. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested that going after Chaika and other officials would be tantamount to returning to the purges under Josef Stalin.

Several months after Navalny's report, Chaika was reappointed for another five-year term.


Ashmetshin, the Russian-American lobbyist who attended a meeting at Trump Tower last year, is a former military officer who has attracted congressional scrutiny over his political activities and has been shadowed by allegations of connections to Russian intelligence.

Akhmetshin, who denies these allegations, confirmed his participation in the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. to The Associated Press on Friday.

A naturalized American citizen who has lived in Washington since the early 1990s, Akhmetshin is known for having lobbied to weaken a U.S. law levying sanctions on Russians and his name has also surfaced in lawsuits, including one involving the hacking of a company's computer systems.

Akhmetshin denied suggestions made in media reports, congressional letters and litigation that he is a former officer in Russia's military intelligence service known as the GRU, dismissing the allegations as a "smear campaign." He told the AP that he served in the Soviet Army from 1986 to 1988 after he was drafted but was not trained in spy tradecraft. He said his unit operated in the Baltics and was "loosely part of counterintelligence."

Along with Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin is known for lobbying efforts to undercut the Magnitsky Act, economic sanctions targeting Russian officials and individuals. Early in 2016, Akhmetshin said, he helped set up a non-profit foundation based in Delaware, the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative, to lobby U.S. officials in an effort to strip Magnitsky's name from the law.

Several wealthy Russian oligarchs agreed to provide financial backing for the foundation's lobbying, Akhmetshin said, providing at least $300,000. Among them, he said, was Denis Katsyv. Congressional lobbying documents show that the foundation spent $290,000 last year on lobbying. At least $10,000, the records indicate, was paid directly to Akhmetshin as a lobbyist.

Akhmetshin's name has also surfaced in lawsuits, including a New York court case in which a mining company branded him a "former Soviet military counterintelligence officer" and accused him of involvement in the hacking of its computer systems. Those claims were withdrawn last year, court records show.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News, AP Business, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
3 dead in fire at Honolulu high-rise with no sprinklers
At least three people died in a fire that broke out on the 26th floor of a Honolulu high-rise Friday and hundreds fled as smoke billowed from the upper floors of the giant apartment complex.
2:52AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Heller facing hot seat on GOP health care bill decision
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is facing the ultimate hot seat when it comes to his decision on whether to support the upcoming GOP health care bill
2:33AM ( 30 minutes ago )
China cremates body of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo
China cremates the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished
2:31AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Allowed in by Trump, Afghan girls robotics team lands in DC
An all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan have arrived in Washington following a last-minute intervention by President Donald Trump
12:15AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Congressman calls Trump Jr. explanation worrying
A prominent Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer attended a meeting with President Donald Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign chairman last year
10:50PM ( 4 hours ago )
Travel ruling paves way for more refugees, but appeal awaits
A court decision on President Donald Trump's travel ban has reopened a window for tens of thousands of refugees to enter the United States
10:26PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump, administration press Republicans to back health bill
President Donald Trump and other administration are lobbying Republicans from both sides of the Atlantic to back the Senate GOP's reworked health care bill
4:49PM ( 10 hours ago )
Top House Republican says budget plan to move ahead
A Republican leader says the House is moving ahead with the party's long-overdue budget blueprint, even as divisions between moderates and conservatives over cutting programs like food stamps threaten passage of the measure
4:31PM ( 10 hours ago )
The Latest: Louisiana gets money in latest health care bill
Louisiana will get more money under the new version of the Republican health care bill
4:08PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Peru's ex-president sent to same jail as nemesis Fujimori
Peruvian authorities say former President Ollanta Humala is being held in preventative detention at the same prison where the former strongman he once tried to overthrow is serving a long sentence
8:49PM ( 6 hours ago )
Brazil's former president sees politics in Silva conviction
AP Interview: Ex-Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says the corruption conviction of her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is aimed at keeping him out of next year's presidential election
8:04PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Kushner lawyer says she's stepping aside
A lawyer working from Jared Kushner says she will step aside from any Russia-related work for the president's son-in-law
5:37PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Elections
Disney fans get look at 'Incredibles 2,' 'Wreck-It Ralph 2'
Disney fans get look at 'Incredibles 2,' 'Wreck-It Ralph 2' at fan expo
1:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
New York museum recreates scene of Nazi war criminal's trial
A New York museum is recreating the Jerusalem court where Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was tried in 1961 for engineering the deaths of millions of Jews
8:14PM ( 6 hours ago )
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher honored as 'Legends' by Disney
Mark Hamill says he can't believe that he has been bestowed one of Disney's highest honors and Carrie Fisher isn't there to see it
7:39PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Fresh Kid Ice of 2 Live Crew dies in Miami at age 53
A founding member of the Miami hip-hop group 2 Live Crew has died
2:25PM ( 12 hours ago )
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
2:12PM ( 12 hours ago )
Beyonce introduces newborn twins Sir Carter and Rumi
Beyonce has finally debuted her twins a month after they were born
11:57AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Recordings News
Lighting should have made pilots aware of potential disaster
Investigators looking into close call between airliners in San Francisco will try to understand why pilots missed cues they were landing in the wrong place
2:11AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Cuba's Raul Castro dismisses harsher US tone under Trump
Cuban President Raul Castro is denouncing the tougher line on relations between his communist government and the U.S. under President Donald Trump
11:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Fire official: At least 3 dead in high-rise fire
Honolulu Emergency Medical Services have treated two patients and transported them in serious and stable condition to the hospital.
11:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
FEC says lawmakers may use campaign funds on home security
The Federal Election Commission has voted 5-0 to let lawmakers use campaign funds to upgrade security systems at their homes after a House member was critically wounded in a shooting last month
3:34PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Trump says most 'would have taken that meeting'
President Donald Trump is addressing the controversy over his eldest son's meeting with a Russian attorney during last year's presidential campaign
3:17PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Exclusive: Senator's family business uses Mexican labor
An arts and crafts business Sen. Joe Donnelly's family has owned for generations relies in part on Mexican manufacturing, even though the Indiana Democrat denounced Carrier Corp. last year for outsourcing jobs to Mexico
1:54PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
3 dead in fire at Honolulu high-rise with no sprinklers
At least three people died in a fire that broke out on the 26th floor of a Honolulu high-rise Friday and hundreds fled as smoke billowed from the upper floors of the giant apartment complex.
2:52AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Heller facing hot seat on GOP health care bill decision
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is facing the ultimate hot seat when it comes to his decision on whether to support the upcoming GOP health care bill
2:33AM ( 30 minutes ago )
China cremates body of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo
China cremates the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished
2:31AM ( 33 minutes ago )
White House says budget deficit to be $99B higher this year
White House budget office says budget deficit to be larger than expected this year by $99 billion
2:29AM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Woman in Hawaii fire horrified at flames below
A 71-year-old woman who lives in the upper floors of the Honolulu high-rise where a fire killed three people says that when it started, she smelled smoke, stepped out on her balcony, and saw flames spreading on the floors below
2:27AM ( 36 minutes ago )