Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016, after offering politically damaging information on Hillary Clinton, was accompanied by Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet counterintelligence officer, according to a new report by NBC News.
Although he denies having any current ties to Russian intelligence agencies, Akhmetshin, a Russian-born American who had served in the Soviet military before he emigrated to the U.S. and still holds dual citizenship, is suspected by U.S. security agencies of maintaining previous ties to Russian intelligence.
He accompanied the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya to the Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign.
The NBC News report is corroborated by the Associated Press which first identified the former Soviet spy as the Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin.
Veselnitskaya had acknowledged that she was accompanied to the meeting at Trump Tower by persons that she declined to identify. However, Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, later admitted that two other people, besides Rinat Akhmetshin, accompanied Veselnitskaya to the meeting. The first person was an unnamed translator. The second person was described as someone who accompanied Veselnitksaya as a “friend of Emin [Agalarov]’s and maybe as a friend of Natalia [Veselnitskaya]’s.”
Donald Trump blames Obama for a Russian lawyer being in the country, as new details of his son's meeting emerge https://t.co/lvjbOiEqXM
— Salon (@Salon) July 14, 2017
Agalarov is a well-known musician and client of Rob Goldstone, who arranged the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya.
“He [the second person who accompanied Veselnitskaya] is a U.S. citizen,” Futerfas told NBC News. “He told me specifically he was not working for the Russian government, and in fact laughed when I asked him that question.”
NBC News noted that the presence of a Russian-American, who is a former Soviet counterintelligence officer, would pique the interest of special counsel Robert Mueller and the House Senate panels investigating allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russian agents. They would want to know exactly what transpired during the meeting that warranted the presence of a former Soviet spy.
However, Veselnitskaya has insisted that she did not attend the meeting as a representative of the Kremlin. She claimed in a recent interview that the meeting was meant to discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia and that issues related to the presidential campaign were not discussed.
THE FUN NEVER STOPS: Former Soviet Counterintelligence Officer at Trump Jr. Meeting with Russian attorneyhttps://t.co/5b8IDeYykd
— Barry Ritholtz (@ritholtz) July 14, 2017
The Inquisitr reported on Tuesday, July 11, that Trump Jr. released on Twitter the email chain documenting his conversation with Goldstone after he offered Russian intelligence on Clinton. Goldstone had offered “high level and sensitive information” about Clinton provided by the Russian government.
The Inquisitr also noted that the emails revealed clearly that Trump Jr. had knowingly accepted an offer of potentially damaging information about Clinton from the Russian government. His response to Goldstone’s statement that the information being offered was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” was a delighted, “I love it!”
Trump Jr. later reportedly forwarded the email chain to Manafort and Kushner, who attended the Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016.
After Trump Jr. came under pressure over the latest revelation that he attended a meeting with a woman that Goldstone had described in his email as a “Russian government attorney,” President Trump defended his son, saying that “most people would have taken that meeting.”
“He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer but a Russian lawyer,” Trump said.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]