While releasing his emails in an ephemeral moment of self-proclaimed “transparency” on Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. failed to disclose that at least eight people reportedly attended the clandestine meeting, including a former Russian intelligence officer. On Friday, the former Russian intelligence officer admitted to attending the secret meeting with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and others.
Under the premise of receiving “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia,” Trump Jr. arranged a meeting on June 9, 2016, with Kushner, Manafort, Rob Goldstone, Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, a translator, a representative of the Agalarov family, and former Russian counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin. As a registered lobbyist for Veselnitskaya’s organization, Akhmetshin attended the meeting under the pretext of overturning the Magnitsky sanctions.
In 2009, Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating fraud involving Russian tax officials and denied medical treatment for months. Three years later, the U.S. Senate passed the Magnitsky Act which punished Russian officials suspected of involvement in Magnitsky’s death.
According to Akhmetshin, Trump Jr. immediately asked Veselnitskaya for “evidence of illicit money flowing to the Democratic National Committee, but Veselnitskaya said she didn’t have that information.” While losing the younger Trump’s dwindling attention, Veselnitskaya reportedly began discussing the U.S. adoption of Russian children instead of providing incriminating evidence against Hillary Clinton.
Born in Russia, Akhmetshin moved to the U.S. during the 1990s and became an American citizen in 2009. Before becoming a registered lobbyist for the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, Akhmetshin served as a Russian counterintelligence officer, who worked for the GRU.
In April, Sen. Charles Grassley wrote a letter to John Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, saying, “I write to obtain information regarding Mr. Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant to the United States who has been accused of acting as an unregistered agent for Russian interests and apparently has ties to Russian intelligence. In July of 2016, Mr. William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, filed a formal complaint with the Justice Department alleging that Mr. Akmetshin, among others, has failed to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) despite undertaking a lobbying campaign on behalf of Russian interests.”
Grassley continued, “Mr. Akhmetshin is a Russian immigrant to the U.S. who has admitted having been a ‘Soviet counterintelligence officer.’ In fact, it has been reported that he worked for the GRU and allegedly specializes in ‘active measures campaigns,’ i.e., subversive political influence operations often involving disinformation and propaganda. According to press accounts, Mr. Akhmetshin ‘is known in foreign policy circles as a key pro-Russia operator,’ and Radio Free Europe described him as a ‘Russian gun-for-hire [who] lurks in the shadows of Washington’s lobbying world.’”
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has reportedly updated his security clearance forms at least three times as recent news articles continue to point out his glaring lack of disclosures. As of this writing, Kushner has added more than 100 names of foreign contacts to his security clearance forms, which he intentionally left blank and failed to disclose earlier this year.
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