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Russian-American With 'Colorful' Past Attended 2016 Trump Tower Meeting

A Soviet-born American businessman was the eighth person present at a June 2016 meeting that included President Trump's son, son-in-law, campaign manager and a Russian lawyer who allegedly had promised to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, 52, is described as a vice president of Crocus Group, a real estate company owned by Russian developer Aras Agalarov, who partnered with the Trump organization to bring the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Russia.

Kaveladze joined Donald Trump Jr., the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort in the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin at Trump Tower.

Scott Balber, Kaveladze's attorney, confirmed to The Washington Post and other news outlets that he had been contacted by a representative of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and complied with a request to identify Kaveladze as among the attendees at the meeting.

Balber is quoted in The Los Angeles Times as saying his client is "cooperating fully" with the special counsel.

The attorney also said that Kaveladze had been asked by Agalarov to attend as a translator, but that his services were not needed. Kaveladze could not recall saying anything during the meeting, according to Balber, who told CNN that his client is a longtime U.S. citizen and has "never had any engagement with the Russian government in any capacity."

Kaveladze, whose online resume says he "oversees a global business portfolio that includes large retail ventures as well as commercial and residential real estate projects" figured prominently in a Nov. 2000 story in The New York Times about money laundering.

The Times reported that investigators found that Kaveladze had opened accounts at American banks that were then used to launder more than $1.4 billion from "unknown Russians and other Eastern Europeans."

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., speaking with NPR's Geoff Bennett, said he understood that Kaveladze has "a colorful history."

According to Reuters, Balber also has ties to the president. The news agency says he "represented Trump himself in the New York businessman's 2013 lawsuit against comedian television host Bill Maher, demanding the $5 million Maher offered to give to charity if Trump could prove his father is not an orangutan."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.