One of the last people to be identified as attendees of the Trump Tower meeting between the senior staff of Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians offering information harmful to Hillary Clinton, was Rinat Akhmetshin. Akhmetshin was identified as a lobbyist working with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya—on that pesky problem of Russian adoptions. Meaning that Akhmetshin was actually part of the team there to fight against Russian sanctions connected to the Magnitsky Act, for which “adoptions” has been the cover story used by both Russia and Trump.
But Akhmetshin turns out to have more connections to the Kremlin than just the people who promised to provide Clinton dirt.
Interviews with his associates and documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Akhmetshin, who is under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs than previously known.
Since everyone who deals with Trump seems to be in bed with Russian oligarchs, including Trump, how bad can it be?
He has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service, the F.S.B., and a history of working for close allies of President Vladimir V. Putin. Twice, he has worked on legal battles for Russian tycoons whose opponents suffered sophisticated hacking attacks, arousing allegations of computer espionage. He helped federal prosecutors bring corruption charges against an American businessman in the former Soviet Union who turned out to be working for the C.I.A.
Ah. That bad. It wasn’t just that the Russians promised to provide Trump with the documents they hacked from Democratic servers. They sent along the guy who had worked directly for the hackers, and directly against the CIA.
Since coming to the United States, Akhmetshin has been under scrutiny by intelligence agencies.
In short, Mr. Akhmetshin’s projects over two decades in Washington routinely advanced the Kremlin’s interests, especially after he became an American citizen in 2009. American counterintelligence agents took notice of his activities, but drew no conclusions about where his allegiances lay, according to a former law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing government secrecy rules.
And now he’s sure to be subject to some observation from one more quarter.
Mr. Akhmetshin’s meeting with Trump campaign officials is of keen interest to Mr. Mueller, who is investigating the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Of all the visitors who attended the June 2016 session at the Trump Tower, he appears to have the most direct ties to Russian intelligence.
Considering the other attendees included a man who directly worked with the Kremlin to overthrow the Ukranian government—and that’s just on the American side—saying that Akhmetshin has the most direct ties to the Kremlin is very notable.