WASHINGTON ― When President Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign chairman met last June with a Russian lawyer they’d been told had “incriminating” information from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton, there were other people in the room. One of the previously unidentified attendees was Anatoli Samochornov, a Russian-born American translator who previously spent years working for the U.S. government.
Samochornov would not confirm that he was in the room, citing nondisclosure agreements. But The New York Times’ Ken Vogel said Friday on MSNBC that Samochornov was at the June 9 meeting in Trump Tower. The interpreter’s mother-in-law also confirmed his attendance at the meeting to The Daily Beast.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team, had previously told the Times that an interpreter attended the meeting, but refused to name him. Veselnitskaya does not speak English, and Samochornov has worked with her several times over the past year, including around the time of the meeting with Trump Jr.
The Associated Press and NBC News confirmed Friday that Veselnitskaya’s top U.S. lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, also attended the meeting with her. Akhmetshin is a Russian-American with past ties to Russian intelligence.
Samochornov’s presence at the meeting is key because he appears to be the only witness to the event who does not have close ties to either the Trump campaign or the Russian government. He wouldn’t tell HuffPost whether he had been contacted by investigators probing the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. The office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees declined to comment.