Turns out Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting wasn’t just with a Russian attorney.
It also included a Russian-American lobbyist who U.S. officials consider a Russian intelligence operative.
U.S. officials are examining what role Rinat Akhmetshin played in the now infamous meeting he attended with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, POLITICO’s Ali Watkins reports. A former Soviet counter-intelligence official, Akhmetshin told The Associated Press on Friday that he had attended the Trump Tower meeting that was arranged by Trump Jr.
Akhmetshin’s acknowledgement added a fresh layer to a story that has bedeviled the White House all week — damaging their claims of transparency and forcing key staff, like Kushner, to focus on Russia.
For his part, the president’s son-in-law changed his legal team on Friday afternoon, with Jamie Gorelick stepping back and Abbe Lowell taking charge of the inquiry. Gorelick will still represent Kushner on other matters but said the shakeup came at his instance. Kushner has shuffled his legal team at a time of high tension and increasing scrutiny over his participation in the meeting.
Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:
BIG HITTER: The White House is adding Washington lawyer Ty Cobb (a relative of the legendary Detroit Tigers’ ballplayer) to its legal team to handle legal and media responses to Russia probes. (Bloomberg)
LOTS TO PARS: President Trump’s campaign digital director, Brad Parscale, will voluntarily meet later this month with the House Intelligence Committee, one of the bodies investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
LEAN MACHINE: President Trump badly trails both President Obama and President Bush when it comes to political appointees, leaving a slew of key posts unfilled.
BONA TO PICK: After a Hawaii judge expanded the definition of what qualified as a “bona fide” relationship for those affected by President Trump’s travel ban, Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to appeal the ruling.
LET’S BEGIN: Republican leaders are pushing to at least begin debate on stalled healthcare legislation and aren’t yet focused on getting the votes needed for passage.
There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. Happy Friday. Winter is coming.