The meeting adds four more characters to President Donald Trump’s complex web of Russian ties, a thorny issue that has dogged the President’s first months in office and has prompted formal investigations.
The New York Times first reported the meeting between lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Trump’s eldest son, who was joined by Trump’s campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Trump Jr. on Tuesday released what he described as the full email chain between him and Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who set up the June 9 meeting.
The emails largely confirmed a New York Times story from Monday that said Trump Jr. was told before the meeting that Veselnitskaya was linked to the Kremlin and had damaging information about Hillary Clinton that came from the Russian government.
Trump Jr. published the emails only after the New York Times had obtained them and reached out to Trump Jr. for comment on Tuesday.
Donald Trump Jr. says he was first introduced to Veselnitskaya on the day they met in New York, on June 9, 2016.
Veselnitskaya is a Russian national who actively lobbied internationally against the Magnitsky Act, a law passed in 2012 that targeted Russians implicated in corruption and human rights abuses.
The law imposed sanctions and banned some Russians from entering the US or using US banking systems.
In a tit-for-tat response to the Magnitsky Act, the Russian government banned the adoption by US families of Russian children.
Veselnitskaya is the founder of a non-governmental organization called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation.
Finally, Veselnitskaya traveled internationally promoting a documentary film that denounced the Magnitsky Act and the whistle-blower who inspired the legislation, according to media reports.
CNN has directly communicated with Veselnitskaya, but she has so far declined to comment on her meeting.
The New York Times had depicted Veselnitskaya as a Kremlin-linked lawyer, but she has insisted she has no ties to the Russian government. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also denies any government links with Veselnitskaya.
“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Veselnitskaya said.
“It is quite possible that maybe they were longing for such an information. They wanted it so badly that they could only hear the thought that they wanted,” she told NBC, according to a translation.
Goldstone is listed as a judge in the Miss USA pageant contest, which was owned for years by Donald Trump. According to his biography on the Miss USA website, Goldstone’s previous clients include Michael Jackson, B.B. King and Richard Branson.
A post on Goldstone’s Facebook page on June 9 last year — the day of the meeting — shows the publicist checking in to Trump Tower in New York. The post reads: “Preparing for a meeting.”
A photograph on his Facebook account shows Goldstone at a table with at least 12 others, including his Azerbaijani pop star client, Emin Agalarov, to his left, and President Trump on the next seat over. According to the post, the photograph was uploaded on June 16, 2013, in Las Vegas.
In a statement to CNN, Goldstone said he was asked by Agalarov to help facilitate the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Trump Jr.
Goldstone went on to say “the lawyer had apparently stated she had some information about illegal campaign contributions to the DNC (Democratic National Committee) which she believed Mr. Trump Jr. might find important,” he said.
Veselnitskaya denied this in her NBC interview, saying that Trump Jr. had asked her if she had evidence of such contributions.
She told NBC that “it was never my intention to collect any financial records to that end.”
Emin Agalarov is a Russian-Azerbaijani pop star and the son of a billionaire oligarch. He lives in Russia, and he sings in Russian and English. He tours under his first name.
He is also a business partner and friend of the Trump family and according to his publicist Goldstone, it was Agalarov who requested the controversial meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya be arranged.
CNN contacted Agalarov on Monday requesting an interview. He declined to speak on the subject.
“You’re just another pretty face, I’m really tired of you. You’re fired!” Trump says.
That project also dates back to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which Trump brought to Moscow with the help of Agalarov and his father.
“Emin, I can’t believe you’re turning 35,” Trump says, sitting at his desk in Trump Tower. “But you’re a winner. You’re a champ. You’re great in real estate. And boy can you entertain.”
Days after Trump won the 2016 election, Agalarov boasted about his close ties to the Trump family in an interview with Russian state television.
He said in the November 12, 2016 broadcast that Ivanka Trump was in his office two years earlier to discuss a Trump Tower project in Russia.
“I met many times with the sons, Eric and Donald. We message each other constantly,” he added. In addition to his singing career, Agalarov is listed as the first vice president in Crocus Group, a real estate development company led by his father, Aras Agalarov.
The Azerbaijan-born billionaire Aras Agalarov is the patriarch of the family and president of Crocus Group.
Crocus Group describes itself on its website as a leading development company in Russia with more than 4 million square meters of developed property.
Crocus’s stated portfolio includes shopping malls, working as a general contractor for stadiums in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and several Nobu restaurants in Russia.
On November 13, 2013, Trump tweeted a message to Agalarov praising the family, with whom he said he had spent a weekend.
CNN’s Michael Weiss and Adam S. Levine and Angela Dewan contributed to this report.