How did Donald Trump end up in this Russian pop video, and what does it have to do with the Kremlin?
Long before Donald Trump became US President, he was a flashy businessman, a New York icon and reality TV star, so naturally the annals of pop culture are littered with decades of Trump references and appearances.
One of those cameos - in Russian pop musician Emin Agalarov’s 2013 In Another Life music video - has now become part of the latest political controversy.
The music video features a slew of Miss Universe contestants who appear in the singer’s dream. But he’s actually dozed off in a boardroom, and Trump wakes him up.
“Emin, wake up. Come on. What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you Emin? Emin, let’s get with it,” Trump says. “You’re always late. You’re just another pretty face. I’m really tired of you. You’re fired!”
Watch: Donald Trump appears in Russian pop star’s music video
It was reported Monday that a meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer purporting to have information potentially damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, had been set up by music publicist Rob Goldstone at the request of one of his clients: Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov. News of the meeting between the younger Trump and a Kremlin-linked lawyer, first reported by the New York Times, comes as investigators look into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians - something President Trump has repeatedly denied.
So, how did a Russian pop star not only get Donald Trump to appear in one of his videos, but find himself in a position where he could ask for such a meeting?
Goldstone, the music publicist and co-founder of OUI 2 Entertainment, has counted Michael Jackson, TLC and B.B. King among his clients, according to his company’s website. OUI 2 Entertainment’s recent projects include Friars Club Roasts of Betty White and Quentin Tarantino; the Entertainment Icon Award Gala honouring Tom Cruise and hosted by Alec Baldwin; and the Hope, Help and Relief Haiti gala featuring Mary J. Blige.
OUI 2 also handled publicity for “Emin and David Foster Live in St Petersburg” and the Miss Universe Pageant 2013 - which Emin Agalarov and his father, wealthy Moscow real estate developer Aras Agalarov, helped bring to Moscow.
Born in Azerbaijan, raised in Moscow and educated in Switzerland and New York City, Emin Agalarov is not just a singer but also vice-president of Russian development company Crocus Group (his father is president). The family is close to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Agalarov’s company having been awarded several large state building contracts, and Aras Agalarov receiving the prestigious “Order of Honor of the Russian Federation” after the Miss Universe Pageant 2013 in Moscow.
Emin Agalarov told The Washington Post last year that his relationship with Trump began when the musician hired 2012 Miss Universe Olivia Culpo to star in a music video for the song Amor.
At the time, Agalarov didn’t know about Trump’s ownership of the Miss Organisation, but he became interested in the pageant after shooting the video.
“We met a couple of times in Las Vegas, then we met here during the actual pageant,” Emin Agalarov said last year. “That’s how we became basically partners the first time and eventually friends.”
The pageant coming to Russia presented a new opportunity for Emin Agalarov: a chance to not only have more Miss Universe contestants in a music video, but Trump himself.
“It would be silly not to take advantage of” Trump being in Russia, Agalarov said, so he asked Trump to appear in his latest music video. “He’s like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ I said just be part of it. He said, ‘How long would it be? I said, ‘10 minutes.’ ”
The day of the shoot, 7 am at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Trump entered, asked where to sit and did one take, according to Agalarov. “He’s an actor professionally.”
“Then the film director goes, ‘Can we have another take?’ He goes ‘No, it’s perfect, stop.’ And he went off,” Agalarov said. “So it really, literally took 10 minutes. But it’s the only music video that Mr Trump has ever participated or took part on, and I’m proud to say that it’s mine.”
Although Emin Agalarov said last year he doesn’t know how his father thinks of Trump, the singer considers him a friend.
“We exchange correspondence. We see each other a few times a year. He really did me a favour by being in the video, and he tweeted out to check out Emin’s amazing new video and song and track, which is cool,” the performer said. “I think that’s his word you cannot buy. It can only be through a relationship.”