After Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out screenshots of email exchanges arranging a meeting to discuss potential intel from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton from the 2016 election, CNN reported that a video of Trump and associates mentioned in the emails has emerged.
While President Trump has repeatedly called the ongoing investigations into possible collusion between his campaign the Russian government a "witch hunt," and defended his son as a "high-quality person," the video adds yet another layer connecting the first family and music publicist Rob Goldstone, who offered to connect Trump Jr. with "the Crown prosecutor of Russia" through some of his well-connected Russian clientele.
The video, filmed in June 2013 at a dinner in Las Vegas, features President Trump chatting with Goldstone, Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, and Agalarov's son, pop star Emin (who is one of Goldstone's clients). CNN reports that the Agalarovs later became business partners with the Trump family when they collaborated on a multi-million-dollar deal to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow that year.
The video contains several conversations between Trump and the men whom Trump called (in Miss USA Red Carpet videos also obtained by CNN) some of the "most powerful people in all of Russia, the richest men in Russia."
The video features some warm and lively conversation, and fairly typical Trump compliments of the Agalrov's female family members. The Trumps' relationship with the Agalarovs has been overwhelmingly positive and is pretty well-documented, with Trump tweeting about Emin's performance at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant — calling it "WOW!" — and even appearing in one of his music videos.
Everything comes back to the emails, however, because it was Emin Agalarov whom Goldstone (in the released emails) offered to connect Trump Jr. to in order to discuss supposed incriminating intel on Clinton.
On record, both Trump Jr. and Aras Agalarov have described their family's connections as casual and professional. As CNN noted, Trump Jr. said he and Emin had only met "once or twice and maintained a casual relationship there, talked about some potential deals, and then to that -- the extent of it. They really didn't go anywhere."
Meanwhile, Aras Agalrov has also given statements to a Russian radio station that the idea of his son contacting Trump Jr. through Goldstone to offer intel is a "tall tale."
Scott Balber, the Agalarovs attorney, also told CNN that he considered the prevalent narratives around the email exchange to be "fiction" and "fantasy world." As Balber said on CNN's New Day:
It's simply fiction that this was some effort to create a conduit for information from the Russian federal prosecutors to the Trump campaign. It's just fantasy world because the reality is if there was something important that Mr. Agalarov wanted to communicate to the Trump campaign, I suspect he could have called Mr. Trump directly as opposed to having his son's pop music publicist be the intermediary.
While lawmakers will undoubtedly still want to get the full story behind these emails and get an official testimony from Trump Jr., the video (and the nature of the two rich and powerful families' relationship) will certainly give them plenty to ask about.