The latest Trump-related scandal involves a pop singer, a Russian lawyer, a show business manager, a Russian-Azeri real estate mogul, and Donald Trump Jr. DW gives you an overview of the main players.
The allegations of colluding with Russia continue to haunt US President Donald Trump. The latest discoveries concern his older son, Donald Trump Jr, who admitted to meeting Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016, after he was told she could offer incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.
The meeting was organized by PR manager Rob Goldstone. In the email chain published by Donald Trump Jr, the British-born Goldstone says the idea came from Russian pop-singer Emin Agalarov. Who are those people and what ties them together?
Donald Trump Jr.
Don Jr, as he is known in the US, will turn 40 this year. He was born in New York to Donald Trump and his first wife, Czech fashion model Ivana Marie. Like his father, he studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated in economics and then took a year off, which he spent hunting and fishing in Colorado. He was reported to have struggled with alcohol problems in his youth.
He returned to New York in 2001 at the age of 24 and joined his father’s business empire. Don eventually became executive vice president of the Trump Organization, where he was in charge of building hotels, vacation homes, golf courts, and other projects both in the US and abroad.
When it comes to his personal life, Don also followed in his father’s footsteps by marrying a model, Vanessa Haydon, in 2005. They have five children.
Donald Trump Jr. strongly endorsed his father’s presidential run and campaigned with him in 2016. He provoked an angry response during the campaign by posting a photo which compared Syrian immigrants with poisoned Skittles. Previously, he was criticized for pictures showing him with a leopard he killed while hunting in 2010. Another photo showed him holding up a bleeding elephant’s tail.
After the new US president took office, he declared he would be handing down the reins of his company to Don and his brother Eric. The two are currently planning to build a series of middle-tier hotels in the towns where their father won the most votes, according to the Business Insider.
The 42-year-old Russian-born lawyer started her career in a prosecutor’s office in Moscow Oblast, the enormous suburbs outside the Russian capital. According to a New York Times article, she “earned a reputation as a fearsome opponent, intimidating both inside the courtroom and in the corridors, where she was known to threaten adversaries with the wrath of the government.”
Veselnitskaya has long represented the Katsyv family, best known for Pyotr D. Katsyv, who served as the transport minister in Moscow Oblast for over 12 years and is now the vice-president of Russian Railways. She also played a key role in working out a settlement for his son, Denis Katsyv, who was facing allegations of helping to launder millions of dollars in New York. Denis Katsyv’s company Prevezon Holdings recently settled the case for $6 million.
Veselnitskaya denies having any links with the Kremlin. She also denied offering any incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, and said her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. was “private” and “not in any way related” to Trump’s campaign.
In recent years, she has been working as a lobbyist against the so-called Magnitsky act, which targets a number of Russian officials by blocking their entry to the US and freezing their assets.
Donald Trump Jr. said she tried to discuss this topic while meeting him last June, making him believe that the Magnitsky act was the “true agenda all along” and the alleged information on Clinton was merely a pretext for the meeting.
Goldstone is a public relations manager who runs the Oui 2 Entertainment company. He claims to have worked with A-list celebrities like Michael Jackson, BB King, and Richard Branson. The UK-born show business figure also worked as a journalist.
In 2013, he helped the Trump family set up the Miss Universe competition event in Moscow and served as one of the judges.
He also represented Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov, whom he names in the email to Donald Trump Jr. “Emin just called and asked to contact you with something very interesting,” he wrote. “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with [Emin’s father] Aras and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealing with Russia,” he added.
The Azerbaijan-born Agalarov is a popular musician in the former Soviet Union. In addition to his success in the music business, he is also known as the son of Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire and real estate mogul Aras Agalarov. His father’s company has close ties with the Kremlin, according to Forbes.
Emin studied in Switzerland and the US, and was married to Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev, until their divorce in 2015.
The singer’s father, Aras Agalarov, reportedly paid Trump billions for the rights to hold the beauty pageant in Moscow. The Trumps and the Agalarovs stayed in touch after the project ended – Donald Trump appeared in one of Emin’s music videos in 2013, and congratulated the young musician on his 35th birthday in an online video in December 2015.
The two families also had plans to build a Trump tower in Moscow, although that project has stalled.
Commenting on the meeting between Don and Veselnitskaya, Aras said that the narrative was “made-up” and that he didn’t know Goldstone “that well.”
“I think this is some sort of fiction. I don’t know who is making it up,” he told Russia’s Business FM. “What does Hillary Clinton have to do with anything? I don’t know.”