In an exclusive interview with VICE News Tonight on HBO, airing Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. EST, Emin Agalarov, a Moscow-based real estate developer and pop star, responds for the first time to allegations that he was an agent of Russian collusion with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Emin also denies knowledge of any offer to send prostitutes to Trump’s hotel room during a 2013 visit to Moscow.
“I have been accused of influencing — this is gonna sound very strange — influencing the American election. Me, this guy here from Azerbaijan, living in Moscow. Because I know personally Mr. Donald Trump,” Emin says. “It’s quite a strange and ridiculous accusation.”
Emin tells the full story of how he and his father, Aras, one of Russia’s largest real estate developers with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, initially met with Trump in Las Vegas in an attempt to bring the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. In addition to the $20 million fee the Agalarovs agreed to pay to host the pageant, Trump asked them to invite Putin to attend. “He said, ‘Let’s invite Mr. Putin to the pageant,’” Emin recalls. “Which, we tried doing it, but [Putin] couldn't come because he had [the] king of some country visiting and was unable.”
“He said, ‘Let’s invite Mr. Putin to the pageant’”
During the three days Emin says Trump spent in Moscow in November 2013, he denies making an offer, or being aware of any offer, to send prostitutes to Trump’s hotel room. In 2017, Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime bodyguard and confidant, testified that during the 2013 visit, he rejected an offer to send five women to Trump’s room. “Mr. Trump came to Moscow with 87 of the most beautiful ladies in the world,” Emin says. “I would never even offer it because I can never live up to the high level of the most amazing and beautiful women surrounding us constantly.”
In footage VICE News Tonight on HBO obtained from February 2016, Emin and his publicist Rob Goldstone are seen in London brainstorming with PR, marketing, and music video consultants about ways Emin might capitalize on Trump’s political rise. Emin tells the group, “In the States, I'm absent. Musically, I'm nonexistent. So this could be an interesting instrument of exposure, if played right.”
Goldstone says the Trump campaign has “asked for a bit of help getting to Russian-American voters.” He outlines a plan that had been discussed with the Trump campaign to work with the director of marketing at VK, Russia’s dominant social network and most popular website. “They’re very excited about this, the Trump people,” says Goldstone.
Goldstone’s attempts to broker a connection between VK and the Trump campaign to reach Russian-American voters were reported in the Washington Post in 2017. The Trump campaign’s social media director Dan Scavino later told ABC News he never pursued a project.
Goldstone did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News, but later told the New York Daily News that he was never asked for help by the Trump campaign. “No one at Trump campaign actually asked me for anything!” he said. He said contact at VK had reached out with an offer to help the Trump campaign, which he passed on, but "nothing came of it."
Emin admits that he was the instigator behind the infamous June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower at which Rob Goldstone had earlier promised Don Jr. dirt on Hillary Clinton. Emin claims not to know Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney and admitted government informant who attended the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, among others.
“Obviously Don Jr. obviously being Don Jr. said, ‘Of course. I'll do it if you're asking’”
“I never met her. I think my father met her a few times,” Emin says. “I think somebody asked him to help her set that meeting knowing that we were acquainted with the Trump family. And obviously my father, being my father, said, ‘Sure, I'll help as much as I can.’ And the next step was to call me and say, ‘Some people want to meet Trump people and ask if that could happen and please if you can make that happen.’”
Emin denies knowing who asked his father to set up the Veselnitskaya meeting at Trump Tower, but he confirms that he and Donald Trump Jr. spoke briefly before the Trump Tower meeting. “I said, ‘Listen, there's some people that want to meet you.’ They obviously want something that could potentially help them resolve things that you could be interested in or maybe not. If you can spare a few minutes of your time, I'd be grateful. If not, no problem. Obviously Don Jr. obviously being Don Jr. said, ‘Of course. I'll do it if you're asking.’” In Senate Judiciary Committee testimony released in May, Trump Jr. said he could not recall whether he and Emin had connected prior to the Trump Tower meeting.
As for the content of the email — in which Goldstone suggested a Russian government official would “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” — Emin claims that Goldstone was merely inflating the importance of the meeting in a misguided attempt to cater to the Trumps.
Tune in to VICE News Tonight on HBO Tuesday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m. EST for the full story.
Cover image: Singer Emin Agalarov performs in a concert in Red Square celebrating the Day of Russia in 2016. (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)