A Russian-American lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, claims he attended Donald Jr.’s meeting last year with the Russian attorney, further complicating the whole story, according to AP.
Akhmetshin confirmed his involvement on Friday.
Check it out:
The meeting has heightened questions about whether Trump’s associates coordinated with Russia to meddle in the presidential election — to help him and thwart Hillary Clinton — and whether they’ve been forthcoming about their foreign contacts. Federal and congressional investigators are probing possible connections between the campaign and Moscow.
Akhmetshin has been reported to have ties to Russian intelligence, a characterization he dismisses as a “smear campaign.” He’s a well-known Washington presence, lobbying for Russian interests trying to undermine the allegations of a lawyer who died in a Russian prison and is the namesake of a U.S. sanctions law.
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.
The information provided at the now-infamous meeting was apparently documents suggesting “the flow of illicit funds to the Democrats.”
Akhmetshin said that after Veselnitskaya conceded the Trump campaign would need to conduct more research to determine whether it was verifiable information, Don Jr. became visibly uninterested.
“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.
Akhmetshin said he does not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government. He said he thinks she left the materials with the Trump associates. It was unclear if she handed the documents to anyone in the room or simply left them behind, he said.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and current White House senior adviser, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting. Akhmetshin said he recognized Kushner and Trump Jr. He also said he recognized Manafort because they worked in “adjacent political circles” but never together.
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.
Akhmetshin told the AP he “never thought this would be such a big deal” and that the meeting was “not substantive.”
While Akhmetshin has been described as a former member of the Soviet military, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin told the AP on Friday that they “don’t know anything about this person.”