Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves following a meeting with members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee
A grand jury used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has heard secret testimony from a Russian-American lobbyist who attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with the matter confirmed to the AP that Rinat Akhmetshin had appeared before Mueller’s grand jury in recent weeks.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the secret proceedings.
The revelation is the clearest indication yet that Mueller and his team of investigators view the meeting, which came weeks after Trump had secured the Republican presidential nomination, as a relevant inquiry point in their broader probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a rally for Republican Greg Gianforte as he campaigns for the Montana House of Representatives
The meeting included Donald Trump Jr.; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
Emails released by Trump Jr. show he took the meeting expecting that he would be receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of what was described to him as a Russian government effort to aid the Trump campaign.
Politico also reported on Wednesday that Mueller is in contact with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in relation to Manfort and his financial transactions.
The two are reportedly in frequent contact with one another and have shared evidence in their respective investigations concerning Manafort’s alleged entanglements with financial crimes, including potential money laundering.
Questions about Manafort’s work with pro-Russian parties in Ukraine has raised eyebrows in Washington, but has yet to lead to formal charges against Trump’s former campaign chairmen.
Paul Manafort, former adviser to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner
Manafort denies any wrongdoing for his with Trump ad abroad.
Reached by the AP, Akhmetshin declined comment. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, also declined comment Wednesday night.
The Financial Times first reported Akhmetshin’s grand jury appearance.
The confirmation of Akhmetshin’s grand jury testimony comes after he spoke at length about his involvement in the Trump Tower meeting in an interview with the AP last month.
Akhmetshin, a former Soviet military officer who served in a counterintelligence unit, is also a well-known Washington lobbyist.
He has been representing Russian interests trying to undermine the story of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison and is the namesake of a US sanctions law.
Akhmetshin has been reported to have ties to Russian intelligence but he has denied that, calling the allegations a ‘smear campaign.’
Mueller and his team first signaled their interest in the Trump Tower gathering last month by contacting an attorney for at least some of the Russians who attended.
The meeting at issue was disclosed earlier this year to Congress and first revealed by The New York Times.