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- Anthony Scaramucci is forced out just 10 days after being named incoming White House communications director
- White House says Trump is fully confident in his Cabinet, apparently including Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions
- Trump swears in retired Gen. John F. Kelly as his new chief of staff
- The most notable firings and resignations in the Trump White House
Donald Trump Jr.'s controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 was attended by a California businessman born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, according to two people familiar with the meeting.
Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, a 52-year-old businessman from Huntington Beach, was the eighth individual at the controversial meeting, The Times has learned. His identity had not previously been revealed.
Kaveladze was asked to attend the meeting at Trump Tower by Aras Agalarov, a billionaire Azerbaijani real estate developer who once planned to build a hotel in Moscow with Donald Trump, according to his Kaveladze’s lawyer, Scott Balber.
Neither the White House nor Trump Jr. previously had revealed Kaveladze’s presence at the meeting, despite repeated public statements about it.
At the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer purportedly also sent by Agalarov, provided Trump with material that she said showed improper donations to the Democratic National Committee, information that she said could be useful against Hillary Clinton.
Kaveladze “was asked to attend the meeting purely to … make sure it happened,” said Balber. “He literally had no idea what the meeting was about until he showed up right before.”
Kaveladze has been contacted by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, according to Balber, who said his client was “cooperating fully,” with investigators.
Balber said Kaveladze did not recall saying anything at the half-hour meeting on June 9, 2016.
Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after he was told he would be given derogatory information about Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” according to emails that Trump Jr. released last week.
President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, also attended.
Balber, who is based in New York, said Kaveladze does not understand why the meeting became so controversial.
“He’s absolutely baffled,” said Balber. “Even the Agalarovs are absolutely baffled. Nobody had any expectation this would be what it’s become, especially this poor guy, who had not been involved before."
Also at the meeting was Rinat Akhmetshin, a Washington lobbyist born in the former Soviet Union, who said he was attending at Veselnitskaya’s request.
According to Balber, Veselnitskaya ---who had done real estate work for the Agalarovs in Moscow -- asked one of the Agalarovs to provide an introduction to the Trumps.
The Agalarovs then asked a publicist, Rob Goldstone, to contact Donald Trump Jr.
“This was not a highly important item to the Agalarovs," Balber said. "If it were, I suspect it would have happened very differently.”
After giving Trump Jr. papers purporting to describe illegal donations, Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin shifted the conversation to the Magnitsky Act, the U.S. law that imposes sanctions on Russian businessmen, which both have lobbied against.
A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment.