The Trump-Russia investigation: A Timeline

Although Trump Jr. and President Trump have defended the meeting as inconsequential, it has drawn sharp scrutiny as the Trump administration weathers ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into whether it colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

But now Akhmetshin, 49, finds himself in the spotlight after being revealed as the man who accompanied Moscow lawyer Natalia Veselniskaya to a meeting with top Trump campaign officials in June 2016, including Donald Trump Jr., the president's son. The information had been described as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump".

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The friendship between our two nations and ourselves, I might add is unbreakable. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent.

SHAPIRO: Joining us now to discuss this evolving story and more from the week in politics is E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Good to be with you. It was meant to impress, and it clearly hit the mark.

ELIANA JOHNSON: Great to be here.

Trump Jr.'s attorney, Alan Futerfas, said Friday that Trump Jr. had not disclosed all the facts of the meeting because it "concerns events that occurred 13 months ago that were considered insignificant at the time and essentially forgotten". "They were released piecemeal and every release was damaging".

Trump Jr. did not mention any others who had been at the meeting. The presidential body language was scrutinized as the two leaders shared pats on the back, close conversation and even some near hugs.

But Trump isn't mad about this assault on American democracy because he was its beneficiary. Merriam-Webster's defines collusion as secret agreement or cooperation, especially for an illegal and deceitful purpose. The answer is pretty simple: Trump doesn't care a whit about the national interest. It'll be at Madison Square Garden before we know it. But it's. That may be just what Trump is counting on. All he cares about is his self-interest. Mike wrote, a faith that makes losing a sin will make cheating a sacrament.

The result of Trump's passivity is likely to encourage more such Russian assaults.

SHAPIRO: Well, you mentioned the growing roster of people at this meeting. And he explained how Donald Trump Jr. was put in charge of the project. Clapper warns that the Russians are already "prepping the battlefield" for the 2018 election - and beyond. How important is this development? And there it was in black and white. And so that means there's no reason for the public to have any faith that they're being honest and transparent in what they're telling us now, which means that it's all up to reporters to ferret out information about what really happened in this meeting and that the White House's word has become utterly meaningless.

DIONNE: It sure does to me. "Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure".

Sekulow said he was not aware of any other meetings involving Russians. They've had to say that things they said in the past were untrue. This is what the lawyers call "guilty knowledge". And they cannot get their story straight. And the way Goldstone presents it, the Agalarovs were this - going to be the source of the information that the Russian government wanted to provide to Donald Trump. And this morning in Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Kushner to lose his security clearance. She also said Democrats are going to force Republicans or try to force them to take votes on creating an independent commission to investigate Russian involvement in the elections. Can they actually accomplish anything here?

ISIKOFF: Correct. And this is something that was very much strongly opposed by the Putin government. And then just six days later, as Air Force One was returning from France, more news was breaking about Trump Jr.'s shifting account of the meeting, again launching a bad news cycle and straining the credibility of the president's defense team. That's what I would want them to do. The perfectly choreographed visit included a tour of Napoleon's tomb and dinner at a chic restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

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