Politics

Former Russian Intel Agent Recounts Trump Jr. Meeting

| by Lauren Briggs

A former Russian intelligence officer turned lobbyist, who said he was present at the June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., has revealed new details about the interaction that conflict with the first son's account.

The Russian lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, told The Associated Press that he attended the meeting in New York's Trump Tower, though Trump Jr. had not mentioned that Akhmetshin was present.

Akhmetshin told AP he did not consider the meeting to be "substantive" and had been expecting a "more serious" conversation.

"I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest," Akhmetshin added.

He said he went to Trump Tower with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, upon her request, but he didn't know any details. Veselnitskaya reportedly had a plastic folder of documents that she claimed showed how the Democratic National Committee and its 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were receiving illicit money from Russia. The lobbyist said he thought she left the papers with Trump Jr., former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, the latter of whom is also President Donald Trump's son-in-law.

Akhmetshin said he recognized Manafort, as they worked in "adjacent political circles."

"This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money," Veselnitskaya reportedly told the Trump associates at the time, as recalled by Akhmetshin .

The lawyer recommended going public with the information to help the Trump campaign, though she did not have additional evidence of the money flow as requested in the meeting, Akhmetshin said.

Veselnitskaya shared her account of the interaction with NBC. She said she had a two-page document that touched on the DNC funding allegations, but primarily dealt with certain sanctions against Russia.

"[Trump Jr.] clearly asked me if I had any financial records to back and support the idea that some funds from illegal sources went to DNC, went to Hilary Clinton," she told NBC News. "In reply to that, I told him that not only I don't have any financial records of that time -- there was no chance that I could somehow, anyhow, have such records."

She said Trump Jr. said at the end of the meeting that her information was "interesting," but there was nothing they could do to help her with it.

"But maybe if we come to power, maybe one day, we will get back to you on that, because it really sounds interesting," Veselnitskaya said Trump Jr. told her.

The meeting was arranged by music publicist Rob Goldstone, who emailed Trump Jr. that a "Russian government attorney" could provide dirt on the Clinton campaign as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump," according to an email conversation shared publicly by Trump Jr.

"I love it," Trump Jr. replied.

Sources: AP, NBC / Photo Credit: Another Believer/Wikimedia CommonsGage Skidmore/Flickr (2)

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