Man Who Says He Connected Trump Jr. To Russian Lawyer Put Trump Sr. In A Music Video | KERA News

Man Who Says He Connected Trump Jr. To Russian Lawyer Put Trump Sr. In A Music Video

Jul 10, 2017
Originally published on July 11, 2017 6:10 am

Last June's meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connections was arranged by a colorful British-born music promoter with ties to the son of a Azerbaijan-born billionaire.

Rob Goldstone, president of Oui 2 Entertainment, told the Washington Post he set up the meeting between Trump and Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has been lobbying against a U.S. law called the Magnitsky Act that blacklists Russian human rights abusers.

Also attending the meeting were then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Goldstone said in a statement that he arranged the meeting after Veselnitskaya said she had information regarding illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee, "which she believed Mr. Trump Jr. might find important."

"I reached out to Donald Trump Jr. and he agreed to squeeze us into a very tight meeting schedule," he said. "At the meeting, the Russian attorney presented a few very general remarks regarding campaign funding and then quickly turned the topic to that of the Magnitsky Act and the banned U.S. adoption of Russian children — at which point the meeting was halted by Don Jr. and we left. Nothing came of that meeting and there was no follow up between the parties."

Goldstone is a former tabloid reporter who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Michael Jackson, Julio Iglesias, Cyndi Lauper and James Taylor, according to his website.

He once wrote an article for the New York Times about the difficulty of traveling "while fat," and subsequently spoke about the essay on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Goldstone was in Russia two weeks before the meeting, according to his Instagram feed, which appears to have been made private on Monday. He said he set up the meeting at the request of his client, Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov, son of the 61-year-old real estate billionaire Aras Agalarov.

Trump has reportedly been on close terms with the Agalarovs since 2013, when he brought the Miss Universe pageant, which he then owned, to Moscow. It was held in a venue called Crocus City Mall, which is owned by Agalarov.

Shortly after the pageant took place, Agalarov was given the Medal of Honor, one of the country's highest civilian awards, by President Vladimir Putin.

Trump also appears to be on close terms with Emin Agalarov, who was once married to the daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

Trump appeared in one of Emin Agalarov's music videos featuring bikini-clad Miss Universe contestants in 2013. (Trump comes in around 3:22.)

Emin Agalarov told Forbes magazine in March that he and his father had plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia, but that the plans had been shelved because of Trump's election in November.

He said he had written to congratulate Trump in November and has received a handwritten reply from the president. In an Instagram posting, he told Trump, "The sky is the limit!"

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Donald Trump Jr. says he agreed to that meeting last June at the request of an acquaintance from the Miss Universe pageant. The Washington Post says that person was Rob Goldstone. He's a British-born music promoter. Goldstone says he set up the meeting on behalf of a client, a Russian pop singer who's also close to President Trump. NPR's Jim Zarroli explains.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: The meeting with the president's son came together through a complex network of connections involving the worlds of politics, global music and international real estate. And the chain of events that led to last year's meeting stretches back to 2012. That's when Donald Trump decided the next Miss Universe pageant, which he owned at the time, would be held in Moscow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Everybody wanted the Miss Universe. We had 18 countries that wanted it. They fought really hard to get it.

ZARROLI: The pageant would take place in Moscow's Crocus City Mall, a giant venue owned by Aras Agalarov. Agalarov was born in Azerbaijan, but he later moved to Russia, where he made a fortune in real estate. Audrey Altstadt is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

AUDREY ALTSTADT: He's got quite a footprint in Moscow, and Forbes estimates his wealth at $1.3 billion.

ZARROLI: Agalarov and Trump would become, by all appearances, fast friends. They even reportedly discussed building projects, which never got off the ground. Trump also became friendly with Agalarov's son Emin, a well-known Russian pop singer. He even appeared in one of Emin Agalarov's music videos.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN ANOTHER LIFE")

EMIN AGALAROV: (Singing) You can keep the lights on. We can keep tonight going, but we'll still be falling apart.

ZARROLI: In the video, Emin Agalarov is shown daydreaming through a business meeting. He fantasizes about Miss Universe contestants. Then suddenly he's awakened by the man running the meeting, Trump himself.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Emin, let's get with it. You're always late. You're just another pretty face. I'm really tired of you. You're fired.

ZARROLI: And here is how all this is connected. Emin Agalarov is represented by Rob Goldstone, a British-born music promoter based in New York who is a judge in the Miss Universe contest. Goldstone, who is a colorful character, was once interviewed on NPR's Talk of the Nation about traveling when you're overweight.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ROB GOLDSTONE: I call myself a fat traveler, but some people hate that word, so we'll use plus-size...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK.

GOLDSTONE: ...And fat. We'll mix it up a bit.

ZARROLI: Goldstone told The Washington Post he arranged the meeting between the Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. at the request of a client who has been identified as Emin Agalarov. But there are still plenty of questions about why the meeting was set up and what really happened there. Goldstone didn't respond to a request for comment. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.