Washington (CNN)The saga surrounding a June 2016 meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer took another turn Friday when it was revealed that there were additional participants, including a Russian-American lobbyist who served in the Soviet military and now promotes Kremlin-aligned interests in Washington.
A US citizen, lobbyist and former Soviet military officer, Rinat Akhmetshin’s presence at the closed-door meeting in Trump Tower has drawn fresh scrutiny on the purpose of the meeting, which was pitched to Donald Trump Jr. as an opportunity to receive incriminating information from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton.
According to Trump Jr., the meeting quickly turned to the question of the Russian ban on Americans adopting children from Russia, a retaliatory measure Moscow put in place following the passage of the US Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that blacklisted some Russians for alleged human rights violations.
CNN has now confirmed that at least eight people were in the room, including Trump Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; Trump’s then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort; Akhmetshin; Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting; a translator; and a representative of the prominent Russian family who initiated the meeting. This information came from sources familiar with the details of the meeting who did not provide all the attendees’ names.
CNN has reached out to Akhmetshin for comment. He is a registered lobbyist for Veselnitskaya’s organization, which has focused on lobbying Washington to overturn the Magnitsky sanctions, according to lobbying records.
Akhmetshin has been a presence in the US for more than 20 years, and his history has been a source of intrigue for months. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley requested more information about his immigration history in April as his committee investigated a complaint that Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya and others engaged in undisclosed lobbying on behalf of the Kremlin to weaken the Magnitsky Act.