A former Soviet counterintelligence officer was reportedly present at a meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer in June, 2016, according to NBC News. A statement released by Trump Jr.’s lawyer on Friday morning appeared to confirm the NBC News report.
Trump Jr. — along with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort — met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016 after the president’s son was promised compromising information about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Both Trump Jr. and President Trump have denied that anything inappropriate happened during the meeting, although Trump Jr. admitted to Fox News host Sean Hannity that, “In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.”
NBC News reported that the Russian-born former Soviet counterintelligence officer served in the Soviet military before emigrating to the United States. He is now an American lobbyist who holds dual citizenship. The lobbyist is suspected by some American officials of maintaining ties to Russian intelligence, but he denied such ties to NBC.
NBC News did not name the lobbyist, but The Associated Press reported that he is Rinat Akhmetshin. In a statement given to the AP, Akhmetshin admitted that he was at the meeting. According to the AP, Akhmetshin described the meeting as follows:
Akhmetshin said Trump Jr. asked the attorney for evidence of illicit money flowing to the Democratic National Committee, but Veselnitskaya said she didn’t have that information. She said the Trump campaign would need to research it more, and after that Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.
“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” Akhmetshin said.
The Associated Press report further states,
Akhmetshin said the attorney brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents. He said he was unaware of the content of the documents or whether they were provided by the Russian government, and it was unclear whether she left the materials with the Trump associates.
Donald Trump Jr. did not disclose Akhmetshin’s presence at the meeting in his statements about the meeting.
The president’s son posted an email chain about the meeting on Twitter earlier this week. The emails stated that the information about Clinton promised to Trump Jr. was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump[.]”
Alan Futerfas, an attorney representing Trump Jr., told NBC News that the lobbyist “is a U.S. citizen.”
“He told me specifically he was not working for the Russian government, and, in fact, laughed when I asked him that question,” Futerfas said.
Futerfas added that “for the purpose of security or otherwise, the names were reviewed” but Trump Jr. was not aware of the man’s background before the meeting.
Watch below, via NBC News: