Russian-American lobbyist attended Trump Jr. controversial meeting
A US citizen, lobbyist and former Soviet military officer has revealed he was one of the figures present at a closed-door gathering of a Russian lawyer and senior campaigners of President Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin told the Associated Press on Saturday that he sat down with Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. (pictured below), Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in June 2016.
Akhmetshin denied any connection to Russian intelligence. He said he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counterintelligence but he was never trained as a spy.
The meeting is now considered as part of efforts by Russia to collude with the Trump campaign in an effort to change the outcome of the November 8 presidential election; accusations that Russia has firmly denied.
Trump’s son said he had been promised damaging information about his father’s opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He, however, claimed that he did not receive the information he was promised. On Tuesday, he released emails showing he embraced Russia’s efforts to support his father’s presidential campaign.
The president issued a brief statement defending his son, saying, “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.”
In another development, Jamie Gorelick, Kushner’s lawyer in an ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged interference, has stepped back from the probe and Abbe Lowell, another attorney, has replaced him.
The investigation is being carried out by special counsel Robert Mueller to find out whether any Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia to interfere in the election.