The latest wrinkle in the Russian lawyer scandal now includes documentation that was allegedly handed over to Donald Trump Jr. during the meeting in June 2016.
Mainstream media outlets are currently buzzing about Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer who has confirmed to the Associated Press that he also attended that meeting.
Akhmetshin had not been previously identified as having attended the meeting, which took place at Trump Tower in New York.
Akhmetshin has been reported to have ties to Russian intelligence, which he dismissed, calling those rumors a “smear campaign”.
“Akhmetshin is well-known in Washington for his advocacy efforts. He’s been outspoken in recent years about a U.S. law levying sanctions on Russians and has worked to undermine the public narrative used to justify the bill. And his name has also surfaced in multiple American lawsuits, including one involving the hacking of a company’s computer systems,” said an AP report.
Akhmetshin told the AP he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counterintelligence but he was never formally trained as a spy.
According to the AP, “Akhmetshin said he accompanied Veselnitskaya to Trump Tower where they met an interpreter. He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.
“Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats, Akhmetshin said. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the campaign, he said.”
“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalled Veselnitskaya saying.
The report when on to say that “Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had sufficient evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more. After that, Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.”
“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.
Akhmetshin said he does not know where Veselnitskaya’s documents came from, but he thinks she may have left the materials with the Trump associates.
Akhmetshin recalled that Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.
He said there were others in the room but he didn’t know them. Publicist Rob Goldstone, who brokered the meeting via email with Trump Jr., has told the AP that he was there.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California now wants Akhmetshin to appear before the committee and provide “any relevant documents and information.”
Accusing Don Jr. of “consistent dissembling and deceit,” Schiff said “it is clear the Kremlin got the message that Donald Trump welcomed the help of the Russian government in providing dirt on Hillary Clinton.”
Schiff said the Akhmetshin revelation raises questions about how much Kushner disclosed about the meeting and now believes Kushner’s clearance should be reviewed, and “if he was not perfectly candid,” the clearance should be revoked.
Akhmetshin backed up Don Jr.’s claim that the meeting was “not substantive” and he “actually expected more serious” discussion.
“I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,” he said.
The Russian government has denied any involvement or knowledge of the June 2016 meeting. When questioned about Akhmetshin, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters: “We don’t know anything about this person.”
Akhmetshin said he has not been contacted by the U.S. special counsel’s office or the FBI about the meeting with Trump Jr. He said he’s willing to talk with the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman has pressed the Justice Department about why Akhmetshin has not registered as a foreign agent.
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