WASHINGTON—A former counterintelligence officer was present at a June, 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, according to a report from NBC News.
The Associated Press reported that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, attended the meeting, but he denies that he was a conterintelligence officer and claims that the meeting was “not substantive.”
NBC claimed that some U.S. officials believe the lobbyist has ties to Russian intelligence.
Trump Jr. has found himself engulfed in controversy after releasing emails shared between him and publicist Rob Goldman, who brokered the meeting.
Goldman wrote in the email chain that a “Russian government lawyer” would be present to provide information that could help the Trump campaign as part of the Russian governments efforts to help the then-presidential candidate.
Trump Jr. has since stated that the attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was expected to deliver opposition research on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but instead focused on adoption policies.
Veselnitskaya has denied having ties to the Russian government.
Trump Jr. did not disclose the presence of the lobbyist at the meeting, which took place at Trump Tower in New York and also included Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chair Paul Manafort.
Both Trump Jr. and the White House have played down the importance of the meeting, with President Donald Trump telling reporters in Paris, France Thursday that most people in politics would have taken the meeting.
“Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information,” Trump said in a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Neither Trump Jr. or the White House have responded to the latest reports.
Some Democrats have since requested that Kushner be stripped of his security clearance.