During a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, President Trump defended Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to its government who claimed to possess compromising material about Hillary Clinton, at Trump Tower along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort as “opposition research.” President Trump went on to say that not only was the meeting “pretty standard” in politics, “zero happened.” (Also, Trump’s attorney’s reportedly knew about Don Jr.’s emails weeks ago, for what it’s worth.)
According to a new report, while the meeting may have been unproductive, a fifth, unnamed person, a Russian lobbyist who is also a former Soviet intelligence officer, also attended the meeting. That lobbyist served in the Soviet military before emigrating to the U.S. where he now holds dual citizenship. Oddly, most of this story’s other principals seem that interested in talking about this fifth person:
Veselnitskaya acknowledged to NBC News that she was accompanied by at least one other man, though she declined to identify him.
The presence at the meeting of a Russian-American with suspected intelligence ties is likely to be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate panels investigating the Russian election interference campaign.
Contacted by NBC News, representatives for Kushner and Manafort declined to comment.
Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, confirmed that he spoke with an individual who attended the meeting. According to Futerfas, this person was a friend of Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star client of Rob Goldstone, the publicist who set up the meeting. “He is a U.S. citizen. He told me specifically he was not working for the Russian government, and in fact laughed when I asked him that question.”
Following the publication of NBC’s report, White House Correspondent (and one of the report’s contributors) Hallie Jackson tweeted an addition that will undoubtedly spawn more updates.
UPDATE – 11:15am EST: Don Jr.’s attorney has now confirmed that a total of six people attended this June 2016 meeting, and the details are only growing more ridiculous with each passing update.
(Via NBC News)