(AFP) – CNN on Wednesday released a video showing Donald Trump attending a dinner with key figures at the center of a growing controversy over alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election.
The video was shot on June 15, 2013 on the eve of the Miss USA pageant, according to the network, which described it as offering “fresh insights into the warm relationship” between Trump and the Azerbaijani-Russian Agalarov family.
It shows the future US president in animated conversation with billionaire Aras Agalarov, his popstar son Emin and Emin’s publicist Rob Goldstone, whose email exchange with Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr has been described in some quarters as a possible “smoking gun” in the ongoing investigation into whether the Republican’s campaign colluded with Moscow to get him elected.
Donald Trump Jr released emails on Tuesday in which he was told by Goldstone he could get “very high level and sensitive information” that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
In response, the 39-year-old — who runs the family real estate business — wrote back saying, “if it’s what you say I love it.”
He then held a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a woman described in the emails as a “Russian government attorney.”
In the clip, Trump heaps praise on the Agalarov family, whom he describes as “the most powerful people in all of Russia.”
He also expresses hope that the Miss Universe pageant, which he brought to Russia that year under a deal with the Agalarovs, would help bilateral ties.
“It really is a great country. It’s a very powerful country that we have a relationship with, but I would say not a great relationship, and I would say this can certainly help that relationship.”