Donald Trump several years ago offered effusive praise for Emin Agalarov, calling the Russian pop star an “amazing businessman” and “fantastic entertainer” during an interview with one of Russia’s largest state-owned networks.
The interview was part of a 13-minute “young millionaires” feature on Emin that was aired on Russia’s Channel One network in August 2014 — about 10 months before Trump announced his presidential campaign — and illustrates how deep the ties are between the two families.
Emin Agalarov is now at the center of the controversy over Russian meddling in the 2016 election, with revelations this week that he asked Donald Trump Jr. — through his agent, Rob Goldstone — to meet with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
“He is in a family business with a very strong father, who is also a very good man,” Trump says in the video, which is dubbed in Russian. “I think Emin does a great job with the family business and his father is very pleased with his work.”
The ties between the families, and Donald Trump’s warm feelings toward Emin, help illustrate why Donald Trump Jr. would pay such close attention to a request coming from the entertainer.
In the video, Trump also alluded to a development that he was pursuing at the time with Emin and his father, Aras Agalarov, who is a major Russian developer with ties to President Vladimir Putin.
“We were discussing with Emin and his father a project. A development of a really big building in Russia. So we’ll see what happens. I am very excited about it,” Trump, who appears to be interviewed from his offices in Trump Tower, says in the clip. “For business, it doesn’t matter where you live, in America or Russia. The most important thing is to understand each other.”
In the video, Emin, who is interviewed separately from Trump, talks about what it was like to grow up as the son of a Russian oligarch. He was sent to Switzerland at 14, and then to New Jersey, to study. The reason, his father says in the clip, is because Emin was not motivated to learn at the schools he went to in Moscow, thinking they would go easy on him because of his father’s donations. Studying abroad, no one knew him or his wealthy father, which forced him to work harder.
That is not dissimilar from Trump, whose own father sent him away to a military academy. And Trump, like Emin, later sought to make a name not only as a developer but as an entertainer. Both seem to have tried to surpass their fathers by reaching for global fame.
“Emin is a good businessman but he is an amazing entertainer. I have a feeling he likes the world of entertainment much more,” Trump said.
“I think at his age he can be in the entertainment industry, but when you get older you start to understand the business aspect. But he is an amazing businessmen and at the same time a fantastic entertainer.”Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.