The June 2016 meeting between the President’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and five others, in which, Trump Jr. expected to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton has raised more questions than it answered.
Chief among those still-unanswered questions is who exactly was in the meeting and what is the identity of the mysterious eighth person.
CNN has reported there were eight individuals present on the 25th floor of Trump Tower on June 9 of last year and seven of their identities have been verified either by public statements from Trump Jr., or CNN reporting. For more on the full story, see CNN’s Jeremy Diamond’s very thorough explanation of everything that is currently known.
See the full cast of characters below:
1. Donald Trump Jr.
The organizer of the meeting from the American side, Trump Jr. set things up in an email conversation with the British-born promoter and former journalist.
2. Jared Kushner
Married to Ivanka Trump and now a top aide and confidant of President Trump, Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law, Trump Jr.’s brother-in-law and a key figure in the campaign. Another participant said Kushner was only present for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Paul Manafort
As Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort helped Trump land the Republican nomination. But as his ties to a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party began to become a diversion and as Trump flailed in the polls (he would later go on to outperform them) Manafort stayed on until August 19. He is part of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the campaign and Russians. Other participants in the June 2016 meeting said he was typing on his phone for most of the duration.
The middle man
4. Rob Goldstone
The meeting was set up by Trump Jr. during an email exchange with Rob Goldstone, a former journalist who was the publicist for an Azerbaijani-Russian pop star who performed at the Miss Universe pageant the Trumps hosted in Moscow in 2013. The pop star, Emin Agalarov is the son of Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer. The email exchange between Trump Jr. and Goldstone says it is at the behest of Emin who had information given to his father by someone Goldstone describes as a “Crown prosecutor.” There appears to be no such thing as a “crown prosecutor” in Russia, but in Goldstone’s native England that could refer to a government attorney. The offer is for “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Both Emin and Aras Agalaraov have denied wanting to pass along such information.
5. Natalia Veselnitskaya
The Russian attorney, a former prosecutor, has said that she was not offering incriminating information about Clinton as the Goldstone emails suggest. She lobbies against the Magintsky Act, a 2012 law that allows the US government to target Russian human rights abusers. It led to a diplomatic tit-for-tat and the end of the adoption of Russian children by people in the US. Trump Jr. said in an early explanation of the meeting that he was frustrated that Veselnitskaya was talking about adoptions and considered it a waste of his time. She told the Wall Street Journal she wanted to tell the Trump campaign of an American company that had failed to pay taxes in Russia and then donated to Democrats.
6. Rinat Akhmetshin
Now a US citizen and registered lobbyist for Veselnitskaya’s anti-Magintsky organization, he also spent two years in the Soviet military. He has been on the radar of lawmakers. In April, Sen. Chuck Grassley wrote a letter to Homeland Security secretary John Kelly requesting any government information on Akhmetshin and referring to him as “a Russian immigrant to the United States who has been accused of acting as an unregistered agent for Russian interests and apparently has ties to Russian intelligence.”
7. Anatoli Samochornov
A US-based translator and American citizen, Akhmetshin has said Samochornov was in the meeting. That information was first reported by a New York Times journalist. His mother-in-law told The Daily Beast that Samochornov was not involved in the conversation, but rather acted as an interpreter. CNN has not independently verified his attendance.
8. Agalarov associate
CNN reported July 14 that there was also an eighth person in the room, according to two sources familiar with the circumstances, although the name has not been disclosed. The person was described to CNN by a source as a representative of the Russian family, the Agalarovs, who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. While it isn’t clear who the person is, a second source said he was an employee of the Agalarovs who was in the US before the meeting.