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Lobbyist at Trump camp meeting denies Russian intelligence connection

15 July 2017

John Yang begins our coverage.

In the June 2016 emails, Donald Jr eagerly agrees to a meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who is said to possess incriminating information about Clinton and invites Kushner and Manafort to come along.

Trump Jr.'s account of his Trump Tower meeting has seemingly changed on an nearly daily basis.

This is in addition to the revelation Friday morning that in attendance was also a lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, who emigrated to the US from Russian Federation.

A federal special counsel and several congressional panels are investigating allegations by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 USA presidential election and potential connections between Russian officials and the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump.

According to Mr Akhmetshin, Mr Trump Jr asked her if she had evidence to prove the claim, but the lawyer urged the Trump campaign to research the matter.

"As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man".

Veselnitskaya also has ties to Fusion GPS, the opposition research company hired by the DNC to assemble the heavily-debunked dossier on Trump, which was subsequently spread throughout the media, Washington political circles, and the USA intelligence community-and that may have played a key role in giving former President Barack Obama an excuse to launch the investigations into Trump. Democrats are complaining that it's just a delaying tactic, and the revised version will probably never see the light of day. Hallie Jackson reported from Paris.

Pelosi said that "House Democrats are not going to let the Republicans off the hook for their complicity, ..." It's absolutely ridiculous that he should have that clearance. "From a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting".

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JUDY WOODRUFF: For more, we're now joined by Julie Pace. Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his participation to The Associated Press on Friday.

So, Julie, what is known about Rinat Akhmetshin?

So, who was actually there? "At no time did I ever talk about Russian contacts with any member of the campaign". He's been on Capitol Hill before.

The investigators are also seeking to clarify if Trump campaign aides were involved in assisting Russian Federation in releasing thousands of hacked Democratic Party emails.

Why is his name surfacing only now?

The truth is that we simply don't know for certain who was at that meeting.

JULIE PACE: That is the flawless question on this, why now?

Please describe the conversation at the meeting in more detail. "The fact that you're crying wolf now because it's politically expedient?" Take the hit in one lump, as opposed to dripping that out, in this case, over the course of a week.

"We never got any actual information".

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JUDY WOODRUFF: But it sounds like now he is talking to the press.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California says Trump Jr.'s shifting explanations "paint a portrait of consistent dissembling and deceit".

"They couldn't wait for the meeting to end", Akhmetshin said.

He said there were others in the room but he didn't know them. "And I think it's ridiculous". Now that they can use Moscow to attack President Trump, however, the Russians are suddenly our greatest enemy again.

Confronted with the allegation, Akhmetshin seemed to shrug it off, telling Politico: "Just because I was born in Russian Federation doesn't mean I am an agent of the Kremlin".

"The reason why Putin and Russian Federation have any strength whatsoever is because Democrats completely ignored his expansion into the Baltic states and everything globally for the past eight years", McCain said. The White House is now pressuring the House to water it down significantly before it becomes law. There's a legal defense fund that you could start. The revelation raises new questions about the goal of the encounter, and why the president's son - who promised to be transparent about the meeting in Trump Tower - did not admit that Akhmetshin was also in the room. She says while she'll be helping Kushner on questions of ethics compliance and the security clearance process, Lowell will be handling Russian Federation investigations. And they worry about their interactions with him.

Caputo said he would like to get back in touch with the White House down the road.

JULIE PACE: This is not a comfortable situation for anybody in there.

Contacted by NBC News, representatives for Kushner and Manafort declined to comment.

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Lobbyist at Trump camp meeting denies Russian intelligence connection