An Alleged ‘former’ Soviet Spy Was Also at the Trump Tower Meeting With Don Jr. and Kushner

by Jen Hayden –

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has been in the spotlight after news surfaced two days ago that she made a trip to Trump Tower to meet with Don Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The emails between Donald J. Trump, Jr. and publicist Ron Goldstone refer to two Russians who would be coming to Trump Tower. Goldstone promised to send their names for security clearance because the Trumps were under the watchful eye of the Secret Service by then. Who was the second mysterious Russian in the meeting? In an interview with the Today Show, Veselnitskaya initially described him as a “translator.” NBC News is reporting the “translator” was actually a lobbyist who happens to be a former Russian spy:

 The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.

NBC News is not (yet) naming the lobbyist, but it most likely be Rinat Akhmetshin, a man who allegedly once admitted he was a former “Soviet counterintelligence” official. Rinat Akhmetshin is a Russian-American with dual citizenship, who was seen with Veselnitskaya in Washington, D.C. later that week.

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NEW: Accused Russian spy was with Veselnitskaya at House hearing days after Trump meeting 

NataliaVeselnitskaya at the House hearing on “U.S. Policy Towards Putin’s Russia.”

The two attended a House hearing on “U.S. Policy Towards Putin’s Russia,” where Natalia Veselnitskaya was inexplicably given front row seating. Was she invited to the hearing? Who arranged for her to have prime seating behind Michael McFaul, the former U.S. Ambassor to Russia? McFaul has emphatically denied ever meeting Veselnitskaya and is also asking how she was given such prime seating at the hearing. Curiously, although she claims not to speak English, she sat through the entire hearing without an interpreter. She can be seen in this video, taking notes and video during the testimony.

According to the letter below, sent from conservative Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelley, Akhmetshin “specializes subversive political influence operations.” Here is a fuller quote from Sen. Grassley’s letter requesting information on Rinat Akhmetshin’s immigration status.

Dear Secretary Kelly:

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 CEOof Hermitage Capital Management, filed a formal complaint with the Justice Department alleging that Mr. Akhmetshin, among others, has failed to register under the Foreign AgentsRegistration Act (“FARA”) despite undertaking a lobbying campaign on behalf of Russian interests.1 The Committee is looking into the circumstances surrounding this lobbying effort and the potential FARA violations involved.2 It is important for the Committee to gather additional information on Mr. Akhmetshin as part of this process.

Mr. Akhmetshin is a Russian immigrant to the U.S. who has admitted having been a “Soviet counterintelligence officer.” 3 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.4 According to press accounts, Mr.Akhmetshin “is known in foreign policy circles as a key pro-Russian operator,”5 and Radio FreeEurope described him as a “Russian ‘gun-for-hire’ [who] lurks in the shadows of Washington’s lobbying world.”6 Mr. Akhmetshin reportedly entered the U.S. in the 1990s and became a U.S.citizen in 2009, while also retaining his Russian citizenship.7

Despite all of this information, and despite Mr. Akhmetshin’s admission to the press that he had been a Russian intelligence officer, in response to a different press inquiry, “Akhmetshin denied that he ever worked for Soviet military intelligence, something he would have had to declare when he applied for U.S. citizenship.”8 The circumstances of Mr. Akhmetshin’s immigration into the U.S. and his eventual U.S. citizenship are relevant to the Committee given his alleged ties to Russian intelligence and actions as an unregistered agent of Russian interests.This information is also relevant because he was reportedly working with Fusion GPS, the company that oversaw the creation of the controversial dossier alleging a conspiracy betweenPresident Trump and the Russian government, on the pro-Russian lobbying effort at the same time the dossier was being created.

In fact, Akhmetshin was accused of being part of a computer hacking scheme related to one of his clients:

More recently, Akhmetshin was caught up in a particularly nasty $1 billion legal fight concerning a potash-mining operation in central Russia. While a Dutch court was the main venue, the dispute spilled into U.S. courts when lawyers for one of the companies accused their counterparts of organizing a scheme to hack their computers and other communications.

The man who masterminded the scheme was Akhmetshin, according to a suit filed in November in New York state court that also accused him of being a former Soviet military intelligence officer who “developed a special expertise in running negative public-relations campaigns.”

Interestingly enough, Akhmetshin was also lobbying on behalf of Prevezon Holdings, the same company Natalia Veselnitskaya was representing against charges by U.S. attorneys in a $230 million money laundering case. Congressman Dana Rohrbacher, who gleefully embraces his title as “Putin’s favorite Congressman,” met with Akhmetshin in the lobby of a Berlin hotel in early May:

Rohrabacher was in Berlin as part of a tour to examine the legalization of marijuana in Europe. Rohrabacher, a 14-term congressman from Orange County, openly supports legalization. It’s unclear why Akhmetshin was there.
The congressman told CNN that he cannot recall exactly what was said in the lobby, or at a subsequent dinner he attended with more than a dozen people, including Akhmetshin.
The focus, according to two eyewitnesses in the hotel lobby, was a U.S. federal money-laundering case in New York. The government is targeting Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus company that has invested in Manhattan real estate and which prosecutors allege was the receptacle for some of the $230 million stolen from Russian taxpayers in 2007. Rohrabacher acknowledged to CNN that the case came up in conversation with Akhmetshin.

On May 14, 2017, a little more than one month later, the Department of Justice abruptly settled the suit, imposing a fine of less than $6 million, which Natalia Veselnitskaya told one Russian news outlet was “almost an apology from the government.”

Curiously, look who else Natalia Veselnitskaya brought into the fold to defend Prevezon:

Veselnitskaya and her client also hired a team of political and legal operatives to press the case for repeal. They also tried but failed to keep Magnitsky’s name off a new law that takes aim at human-rights abusers across the globe. The team included Rinat Akhmetshin, an émigré to the United States who once served as a Soviet military officer and who has been called a Russian political gun for hire. Fusion GPS, a consulting firm that produced an intelligence dossier that contained unverified allegations about President Trump, was also hired to do research for Prevezon.

That is a lot of coincidence in one meeting.

2017-04-04 CEG to DHS (Akhmetshin Information) With Attachment by dailykos on Scribd


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos