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Mueller’s tantalizing new lead on Don Jr. meeting

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

NBC News' Ken Dilanian and Nathasha Lebedeva report this morning: "The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist."

  • They did not name that lobbyist, who they report is a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer. They also add that the lobbyist is suspected of maintaining ties to Russian intelligence, per their sources in U.S. government.
  • "Veselnitskaya acknowledged to NBC News that she was accompanied by at least one other man, though she declined to identify him."
  • Why it matters: Matt Miller, an MSNBC contributor and former Obama Justice Department official, tells Axios' Mike Allen: "This is important: means there is someone [Russia probe special counsel Robert] Mueller can subpoena who is not part of the Trump family/staff to find out what happened. He probably couldn't get his hands on the Russian lawyer, but he can get his hands on this person."

Then the wrinkle: NBC's Hallie Jackson spoke with Trump Jr. lawyer Alan Futerfas.

He told her:

  • "The person was described as a friend of Emin [Agalarov]'s and maybe as a friend of Natalia [Veselnitskaya]'s."
  • "He is a U.S. citizen. He told me specifically he was not working for the Russian government, and in fact laughed when I asked him that question."
  • Futerfas claimed Trump Jr. was not aware of the man's background, although "for the purpose of security or otherwise, the names were reviewed."
  • "I have absolutely no concerns about what was said in that meeting."
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