Days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, a low-profile real estate figure with ties to powerful Russians alerted a meeting participant that the topic of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton could come up, The Daily Beast has learned.
That figure, Roman Beniaminov, didn’t attend the meeting himself. But he had close ties to several figures in and around it, including Emin Agalarov, the Azeri-Russian pop star who helped set up that Trump Tower confab and whose father is an ally of Vladimir Putin.
Ike Kaveladze was one of the participants in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Kremlin-connected attorney Natalia Vesilnitskaya. Kaveladze told congressional investigators that when he was first invited to participate, he was under the impression that he would just be there as a translator and that the meeting would involve discussion of Magnitsky Act sanctions.
Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that before Kaveladze headed from Los Angeles to New York for the meeting, he saw an email noting that Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. would all be involved. He thought it would be odd for them to attend the meeting, so he called Beniaminov before heading to New York. Both Beniaminov and Kaveladze have worked with the Agalarov’s real estate development company, the Crocus Group.
Balber said that Beniaminov told Kaveladze that he heard Rob Goldstone— Emin Agalarov’s music manager—discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It’s never become completely clear what kind of “dirt” the Russians were talking about.
According to Balber, Beniaminov was the only person to give Kaveladze any information about the meeting’s purpose.
“That was the only data point Ike had, which was inconsistent with everything else he had heard, which was that the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act,” Balber said.
In all of the discussion about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, Beniaminov’s name has rarely, if ever, come up. So his alleged role in informing Kaveladze about the plans suggests he may be yet another important player who could have relevant information for the various, ongoing investigations.
Beniaminov could not be reached for comment.
Beniaminov went to Tenafly High School in Bergen County, New Jersey, with Emin Agalarov, according to NorthJersey.com. Emin posted a picture of the two together in high school on Facebook last December.
In the years since then, he was Emin’s close associate. He worked with Emin to promote his music, as he detailed in numerous tweets. And this past May, Emin thanked him on Instagram for helping arrange a concert at the Lincoln Center.
Beniaminov’s Facebook page is private, but The Daily Beast reviewed screenshots from this summer where he said he used to be Emin’s general manager. The same screenshot showed he listed the Crocus Group as his most recent employer. Aras Agalarov—Emin’s billionaire father—helms the company.
Balber said it appears Beniaminov is still working with Emin to promote his music career, and that he was doing so at the time of the Trump Tower meeting.
Trump’s connections to the Agalarovs and to Crocus Group are well-documented. When Trump held the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, it was hosted at the Crocus City Hall, which Aras Agalarov owns.
Olivia Culpo, who was Miss Universe in 2012, appeared with Aras and Emin Agalarov—as well as Donald Trump—at the 2013 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas, as a Getty photo documents. She also attended the U.S. premiere of one of Emin’s pop songs, along with Trump.
Culpo’s representative did not respond to a request for comment.
The Agalarovs have made no secret of their fondness for Trump. In an interview on the Crocus Group website, published Nov. 13, 2013, Aras Agalarov said he was considering going into business with the future U.S. president.
“We discussed our joint projects right before our interview,” he said. “We have just shared our views on such projects and he said they were quite interesting.”
“We will complete one project and then go down to the next one,” Emin added. “We may theoretically consider a possibility of building a Trump Tower as one of our sky-scrapers.”