The New York Times just reported that Donald Trump Jr.’s infamous June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer and Russian lobbyists looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton definitely included a real spy.
Rinat Akhmetshin, a naturalized Russian-American citizen and lobbyist, was recently revealed as the seventh person at the Trump Tower meeting that included Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and senior Trump adviser, Jared Kushner.
Now the Times is reporting that Akmetshin helped expose a CIA agent in the former Soviet Union and has known links to the top level of Russia’s FSB intelligence agency. He also spoke with the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and openly admitted that he was part of the Russian Intelligence Services:
Ronald J. McNamara, a former staff member of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe who met with Mr. Akhmetshin about Central Asian issues, said Mr. Akhmetshin openly alluded to involvement with Russian intelligence. “My understanding was that he had come from the security agencies in the Soviet Union-Russian Federation,” Mr. McNamara said. “He did not make it a secret.”
He has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service, the F.S.B., and a history of working for close allies of President Vladimir V. Putin. Twice, he has worked on legal battles for Russian tycoons whose opponents suffered sophisticated hacking attacks, arousing allegations of computer espionage. He helped federal prosecutors bring corruption charges against an American businessman in the former Soviet Union who turned out to be working for the C.I.A.
Previously, Akhmetshin told the AP that his colleague, lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, delivered a folder of Russian propaganda to Trump Jr. at the Trump Tower meeting, but otherwise little new information about him emerged until now.
Akhmetshin previously told Times reporters that he broke off ties to his homeland in the late 1980’s, and called any attempt to call his military intelligence background official ties to Russia was part of an “elaborate smear campaign.”
But the question of who exactly is Rinat Akhmetshin remains a mystery. “I think he works for us. I don’t think he works for them. But I don’t know what he really does” says a Republican operative who has worked with him for fifteen years.
But perhaps the most telling quote comes from the Russian government itself, who said that “We don’t know anything about this person.”
Special Counsel Muller’s staff of 16 top attorneys is busy tearing apart every detail of Don Jr.’s big propaganda meeting, and now they can prove it he met with a real Russian spy.
Unlike the fire and brimstone emanating from Breitbart, this new information from the U.S. government in the Times – the allegation that Donald Trump’s son met with a potential Russian spy during the presidential campaign – could be the kind of material fact that leads investigators to the ultimate truth about Vladimir Putin’s involvement in last year’s campaign.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition