Monday 23 April 2018

Footage emerges of Trump dining with key figures in son's Russian email scandal

Footage shows Trump sitting down with members of the Azerbaijani-Russian family who would later offer up information on his election opponent, Hillary Clinton

Emily Shugerman

Video has emerged showing Donald Trump attending a dinner with the key figures involved in the email scandal that has engulfed his White House over the last week.

The video, reportedly shot in Las Vegas in 2013, shows Mr Trump sitting down with members of the Azerbaijani-Russian family who would later offer up information on his election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Also present is the family’s publicist, Rob Goldstone, who first reached out to the Trump family about the information.

In emails released by Mr Trump’s son this week, Mr Goldstone promises Donald Trump Jr "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia" as part of a larger Russian government effort to aid the Trump campaign.

"If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Mr Trump Jr responds.

The newly released video, obtained by CNN, reveals the extent of the connection between Mr Trump, Mr Goldstone, and the family who would claim to have information on former Secretary of State Clinton.

The business relationship between Mr Trump and the Agalarov family started in 2013, when Mr Trump signed a deal with Aras and Emin Agalarov to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.

The video shows Mr Trump and the Agalarov's dining and socialising shortly before the announcement of their business deal.

"The women now are beautiful," Mr Trump brags of the Miss Universe contestants at one point. "When you see Miss Universe you won't even believe it."

At another point, when the younger Mr Agalarov introduces his mother and sister to Mr Trump, the future President exclaims: "What a beautiful mother you have! Well, you produce good looking stuff, right? Beautiful stuff."

The news of Mr Trump Jr's meeting with an associate of the Agalarov's, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has renewed allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government – allegations the White House vehemently denies.

Mr Trump Jr has dismissed the younger Mr Agalarov "an acquaintance," and claims to have met him on the golf course, not at the Miss Universe Pageant. He says he agreed to the meeting with Ms Veselnitskaya "as a courtesy" to Mr Goldstone, who also worked on the pageant

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has defended his son as "open, transparent, and innocent". He maintains that allegations of collusion with Russia are a "witch hunt".

In the CNN video, Mr Trump can be heard heaping praise on Russia at the 2013 Miss USA awards show.

"It really is a great country," he says. "It's a very powerful country that we have a relationship with, but I would say not a great relationship, and I would say this can certainly help that relationship. I think it's very important."

Of the Agalarov family, he brags: "These are the most powerful people in all of Russia, the richest men in Russia."

Independent News Service

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