Reporting by John Roberts
The news around President Trump was again moving on parallel tracks today—one track following a cloud of controversy, the other tracking the renewal of old relationships.
A rare and prestigious moment for the President—the guest of honor at France’s Bastille Day parade, the first American President to do so since former President H.W. Bush in 1989.
But the celebration was tempered by yet another twist in his son Don Jr’s meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, told the Associated Press he was also in the meeting. Akhmetshin is described in court papers as a former Soviet military counterintelligence officer. While Akmetshin says he served in the Soviet military from 1986-88, he denies any involvement then, or now, in intelligence activities.
Akmetshin’s role in the meeting is unclear, though he has been involved in activities opposing the Magnitsky Act targeting Russian Human Rights Abusers.
There may have been yet another Russian-American in the meeting. Donald Trump Jr’s attorney Alan Futerfas tells Fox News he spoke to another man who says he was there. That man is an American citizen and also denies any contact with Russian authorities.
The revelations prompted new demands from Democrats and Leader Pelosi.
“Now we know a counterintelligence person was in the meeting as well…it is important that we see all electronic communication, whether it’s direct messaging, Twitter, e-,ail, text, whatever it happens to be, among the members of the Trump family within the Trump administration.”
Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, took aim at Jared Kushner, who attended the meeting for a few minutes. In a statement saying, “reports that Jared Kushner had to twice amend his security clearance firms, only recently acknowledging this pivotal meeting, should cause his clearance to be reviewed—and if he was not perfectly candidate—immediately revoked.”
The Democratic criticism was expected, but even Republicans say it’s time to get it all out on the table.
“Russia tried to destroy democracy all over the world,” said Republican Congressman Lindsay Graham. “They did interfere with our elections; I want to get to the bottom of it. Donald Trump Jr. says he wants to tell his side of the story—that would be a good idea and he’d be welcome to do it at a Judiciary Committee.”
In France, President Trump did his best to fly above the scandal. The Bastille Day celebrations were in part to honor the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.
It was also a show of unity against terrorism. On Bastille Day last year a terrorist using a truck as a weapon mowed down more than 500 people on the promenade in Nice killing 86.
In Paris, a precision military marching band paid tribute to those who lost their lives while France’s President Emmanuel Macron spoke of enduring bonds with the US in the fight against all enemies.
“Mr. Trump’s presence at my side is a sign of an enduring friendship and I want to thank him. Nothing can ever separate us.”
The story regarding Donald Trump Jr’s meeting has changed several times. His attorney told Fox News the reason for that is the meeting was so unremarkable, and the information so insignificant, that the principles forgot many of the details of the meeting not long after it was over.