President Donald Trump has apparently dismissed news accounts of the latest revelations about a meeting between members of his presidential campaign and a Russian lawyer, as discussion rages on about whether the campaign cooperated with Russian efforts to influence last year’s U.S. election.
Trump, spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminister, New Jersey, tweeted Saturday that stock valuations were continuing to climb despite media coverage of new developments in the Russia story.
The tweet followed reports Friday that there were other participants in the controversial meeting, which occurred at Trump Tower in New York City in June 2016.
Two Russian Americans — Anatoly Samochornov and Rinat Akhmetshin — were identified by news outlets as having accompanied Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to the meeting, which the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., originally said was arranged to talk only about a Russian ban on Americans adopting Russian children.
This week, Trump Jr. revealed that he attended the meeting because he had been promised some incriminating information about Trump’s election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Akhmetshin told The Washington Post on Friday that he participated in the meeting, after his role was first reported by other news sources. MSNBC reported later Friday that Samochornov, a translator, also was present. He is believed to have worked as a project manager for the U.S. State Department.
Named in complaint
Both Akhmetshin and Samochornov are named in an April 2017 complaint by the Senate Judiciary Committee examining the question of possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Akhmetshin, who became a U.S. citizen in 2009 but retains his Russian citizenship, has lobbied against U.S. sanctions on Russia for human rights violations, the result of a U.S. law known as the Magnitsky Act.
Akhmetshin told the Post that his attendance at the meeting was a last-minute decision. He said he had been having lunch with Veselnitskaya a few blocks north of Trump Tower when Veselnitskaya invited him to attend the meeting later that day.
Akhmetshin has told media outlets that he once worked in Soviet counterintelligence, but only during his two years in the Russian military in the mid-1980s. He says he was drafted into the military, like most young Soviet citizens, at age 18.
“Just because I was born in Russia doesn’t mean I am an agent of [the] Kremlin,” he told Politico recently.