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Mueller looking at payments between Russians who arranged Trump Tower meeting

September 21, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into payments made by two Russians who organized a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with senior Trump campaign officials.

Mr. Mueller’s team is asking questions about a $3.3 million in payments between Aras Agalarov and his longtime employee, Irakly Kaveladze, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. A Russian billionaire with ties to both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Agalarov helped plan the June 2016 meeting.

BuzzFeed reported officials at three separate banks raised concerns about the money transfers, although they do not appear to related to the Trump Tower meeting.

The documents show that Mr. Agalarov began transferring money on June 3, 2016, the the same day Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney, at Trump Tower. It is believed they meet with Ms. Veselnitskaya because she had dirt on President Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.

Authorities had previously investigated Mr. Kaveladze for money laundering, according to the article.

Scott Balber, an attorney representing the two Russians, told BuzzFeed any suggestion that the money was related to the Trump Tower meeting is “complete nonsense.”

“It’s obvious the events of June 2016 have been a focal point of the special counsel’s investigation, various congressional inquiries, tremendous media attention and the like,” Mr. Balber said, BuzzFeed reported. “We are in the lens of the reality so it doesn’t surprise me that there’s been some flyspecking, some gross over reporting by a number of financial institutions.”

Manafort, who was chairman of the Trump campaign at the time of the meeting, agreed earlier this month to cooperate with the special counsel probe. It is not clear if the investigation into the payments between the two Russians is related to Manafort’s testimony.

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