A former Soviet counterintelligence officer was at the Donald Trump Jr. meeting

Donald Trump blames Obama for a Russian lawyer being in the country, as new details of his son's meeting emerge

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 14, 2017 8:20AM (EDT)

Donald Trump Jr. (AP/Kathy Willens)
Donald Trump Jr. (AP/Kathy Willens)

The Russia scandal has just taken another turn: There are reports that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer associated with the Kremlin, was joined at her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. by a former Soviet counter intelligence officer.

The unnamed individual currently works as a Russian-American lobbyist, according to a report by NBC News. He currently hold dual citizenship with both countries and joined Veselnitskaya during her meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. According to the widely publicized emails about that meeting, the goal was to share damaging information about Hillary Clinton with the Trump campaign due to the Russian government's preference for the Republican nominee.

Because the lobbyist in question is suspected of continuing to have ties to Russian intelligence, it is believed that his presence at the meeting will play a role in the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller III.

President Donald Trump has tried to deflect attention from this controversy by blaming President Barack Obama's last attorney general, Loretta Lynch, for allowing Veselnitskaya into the United States.

"Somebody said that her visa or her passport, to come into the country, was approved by Attorney General Lynch," Trump told reporters.

"Now, maybe that's wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, but a little surprised to hear that. So, she was here because of Lynch."

Trump has offered no evidence to support his claim, while a spokesman for Lynch said "Atty. Gen. Lynch, as the former head of the Justice Department, does not have any personal knowledge of Ms. Veselnitskaya's travel."

The ex-Soviet official was identified as Rinat Akhmetshin, who told the Associated Press he attended the meeting.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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