WITH 90.1 FM

Emin Agalarov, Trump-Connected Russian Pop Singer, Trolls The World With New Video

Jun 26, 2018
Originally published on June 28, 2018 12:43 pm

Three years ago, Donald Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt about a 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump partly owned at the time. The event took place at Crocus City Hall, a venue owned by billionaire Aras Agalarov's companies Crocus International and Crocus Group.

"I really loved my weekend; I called it my weekend in Moscow," Trump told Hewitt. "But I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top of the government people. I can't go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary."

As if the world weren't already bizarre enough, that visit is now the subject of a music video by Emin Agalarov, the aspirant pop star son of Aras Agalarov who performed during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. In a promotional tie-in that same year, Trump appeared in a music video of Emin Agalarov's, along with that year's Miss Universe contestants.

The opening of the video for "Got Me Good" features an unidentified computer hacker watching security camera footage of Emin and an actor portraying Trump as they enter a hotel. Upon entering a hallway, Emin hands Trump a briefcase. Soon after — following a snippet of footage of the real Ivanka Trump — Emin and the actor portraying Trump are shown in a hotel room, where they are joined by three women. The hacker, in his bunker, digitally removes Trump from the footage, as the words "TRUE_FAKE" appear on a screen.

Shortly after the scene, an actress portraying Hillary Clinton and another portraying Ivanka Trump faire la bise in a dark club before taking a shot of alcohol. Several shots of spycraft-ish behavior — dead drops, handoffs — follow, before the Trump-erasing hacker is revealed to be an actor portraying Kim Jong Un.

All told, the video is nearly nonsensical, except for the ham-fisted allusions it makes to Emin Agalarov's connection to several key points in the investigation of Robert Mueller.

Trump's 2013 visit to the Russian capital has accrued significant importance, both for the salacious, unverified allegations linked to it within the now infamous "Steele dossier" and for the connection it seemingly has to a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Trump campaign leaders met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin about supposedly incriminating information on Clinton.

That meeting, according to emails that became public nearly a year ago, was arranged by music publicist Rob Goldstone at the request of Emin Agalarov, who was conveying a message from his father, Aras, which originated as an offer of help from Russian federal prosecutor Yuri Chaika.

"Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting," Goldstone's email to Donald Trump Jr. read. The rest, as they say, is history.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A music video dropped yesterday that's been generating some buzz - more for the Trump dossier and Kim Jong Un references than for the quality of the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOT ME GOOD")

EMIN AGALAROV: (Singing) You really got me. You really got me. You really got me good.

CORNISH: The star of the video actually has ties to the Russia investigation playing out in Washington. For some insight into the music and the politics of this, we asked NPR's music editor Andrew Flanagan and national security editor Phil Ewing to get together and discuss.

PHILIP EWING, BYLINE: Hi, Andrew.

ANDREW FLANAGAN, BYLINE: Hey, Phil.

EWING: So this is a video by a guy named Emin Agalarov. His father's Aras Agalarov, this billionaire Russian developer. Young Emin is a pop star, if you want to call him that. Tell us about what we're seeing in this new video.

FLANAGAN: Sure. Pop Star is a strong word, but the video for "Got Me Good" opens up with a hacker facing several screens in a very darkened basement. And it slowly cuts into footage of a Trump lookalike and Emin making their way to a hotel room. There's cameos by a Paul Ryan lookalike, who's actually supposed to be Jared Kushner. There's Stormy Daniels. There's Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton cheek kissing before taking shots at a club. And the hacker at the end is revealed to be Kim Jong Un chomping on some popcorn.

EWING: Ripped from today's headlines.

FLANAGAN: Uh-huh.

EWING: So this isn't the first time that Emin has actually made a song about Donald Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN ANOTHER LIFE")

AGALAROV: (Singing) In another life...

EWING: They made a record together back in 2013 because his father, Aras, helped Trump put on the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Donald Trump actually did a cameo in that video.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN ANOTHER LIFE")

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Emin, let's get with it. You're always late. You're just another pretty face. I'm really tired of you. You're fired.

EWING: In the new video, they're reminding everyone that the Agalarovs are part of this story, part of these headlines with Stormy Daniels and Kim Jong Un and Paul Ryan and Jared Kushner. It may sound familiar to people because Emin Agalarov was one of the links in the chain that the Russian government used to offer help in the presidential campaign to Donald Trump Jr. Eventually, the Russian government sent a delegation to New York City in 2016 in June to meet with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and the then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to give some political tips about the Democrats. This has clearly been a big deal in terms of the Russia investigation and whether any Americans were involved with the Russian attack on the election in 2016.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOT ME GOOD")

AGALAROV: (Singing) I wish that you'd told me the truth.

EWING: Andrew, you're a professional music journalist. Give me your take about this song, how good it is and how good the video is.

FLANAGAN: Yeah. I guess the takeaway musically would be it's kind of - it's vaguely Ed Sheerany (ph). It's got kind of a clippy bossa nova acoustic guitar beat. These are things that you can probably load up in GarageBand on your iPad pretty quickly and sing over. But honestly, I couldn't understand. Maybe you can help me with this. Like, there's a couple different takeaways I felt like you could get from it, right? There was, be careful, Trump; we have something on you or, this is just us joking around; we're still tight bros from way back when.

EWING: Both messages could be true. That's what's so fascinating and maddening about this story. It's kind of what I bang my head against the wall doing every day trying to cover it. Trump probably does not want us to talk about this video because it reminds everyone of all those connections to the Russia investigation and these powerful Russians from his business life. So you can imagine the Agalarovs might be saying, we're no longer friends. Or maybe what they're doing is saying, we actually do still have a relationship, and we're just trying to fool people into thinking that. By making fun of you, we'll then get you to break with us publicly.

FLANAGAN: So he may or may not be willing to perform another cameo in another Emin music video.

EWING: That remains to be seen, correct.

FLANAGAN: (Laughter) OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOT ME GOOD")

AGALAROV: (Singing) You really got me. You really got me good.

CORNISH: That's NPR's music editor Andrew Flanagan and national security editor Phil Ewing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOT ME GOOD")

AGALAROV: (Vocalizing). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.