Hold the fort… or should I say hold the Manafort?
The latest drip in the drip, drip, drip of the Donnie Jr. saga is that there was at least another person in attendance at the now infamous Russian meeting held to procure dirt on Hillary Clinton. According to multiple reports, a Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence military officer called Rinat Akhmetshin was also in the room. The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. was told in July 2015 that Akhmetshin had arranged the hacking of a mining company’s private records—stealing internal documents and then disseminating them. So the man is a hacker. Akhmetshin confirmed his presences to the Associated Press on Friday.
“I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,” Akhmetshin told the AP.
The Kremlin, via Dmitry Peskov, a Putin mouthpiece, claimed no knowledge of Akhmetshin.
“We don’t know anything about this person,” Peskov told the AP.
Donnie Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, told NBC News on Friday said that Junior knew nothing of Akhmetshin’s background, but failed to explain why his client hadn’t mentioned him in his statements.
“He is a U.S. citizen,” Futerfas told NBC News of the lobbyist. “He told me specifically he was not working for the Russian government, and in fact laughed when I asked him that question.”
Futerfas added more intrigue to the story by revealing yet another person was present, though he did not reveal their identity.
So what do we know so far?
- A meeting was set up via e-mail to introduce Donnie Jr. to someone named lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya – who had dirt on Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government.
- It was set up through Trump family friends Rob Goldstone, music publicist and Emin Agalarov.
- In the e-mail exchange with Donnie, Rob Goldstone described the dirt as highly sensitive and part of an effort on the Russian Government to assure Trump’s victory.
- Donnie Jr. said he ‘loved it’…and invited then-campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to attend the meeting with him.
- Hours after the meeting was set up Trump addressed a crowd, teasing he would make a speech the following week, to reveal new information on the Clintons.
- Donnie Jr. describes the meeting as ‘such a nothing’ and that there were no follow-up meetings. The President supports his son, who he calls a ‘good boy’.
- Donnie Jr. initially said of the meeting that it was a discussion about Russian adoptions. A day later he amended that statement to admit it was about receiving damaging information on Clinton, then later provided e-mails revealing that the information was coming from the Russian government.
- Friday, it’s confirmed that there were two additional people in attendance ex-Soviet military official, Rinat Akhmetshin and an unnamed man.
- Rinat Akhmetshin is a counterintelligence specialist and an accused hacker.
So, there we are. Seeing as Donald Jr. has already changed his story multiple times, it is only logical that there are still more shoes to drop regarding this meeting and potential follow up meetings. At the very least, it is clear that Trump Jr. not only intended to collude with Russia, but was excited about the prospect. To simply take him at face value that there were no additional meetings or follow up whatsoever would be ludicrous. He has already lied/misrepresented events several times.
This is no ‘nothing’…this is a big something. As of yet, we still don’t know how all the pieces fit together, however the picture is becoming clearer by the day.