Jul 14, 2017

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."

Go deeper

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers as Israel confirms first case

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship — as Israel confirmed its first case among evacuees from the ship.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 76,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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California's "woman quota" law seems to be working

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

When California passed its boardroom law requiring public companies based there to have at least one female director, there were concerns it would spark a gold rush for the same handful of well-known women — but that hasn’t happened.

Why it matters: Of the 138 women who joined all-male California boards last year, 62% are serving on their first company board, per a study by accounting firm KPMG. That means a majority of companies aren't contributing to so-called overboarding in corporate America.