Washington, Jul 14 (EFE).- A Russian-American lobbyist who once served in the Soviet army confirmed Friday to The Washington Post that he was present for Donald Trump Jr.’s July 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer said to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Sr.’s opponent in the US presidential race.
Rinat Akhmetshin, who denied accounts identifying him as an intelligence operative, said in an interview that his participation in the 30-minute encounter at Trump Tower was the result of a last-minute request of attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
He told The Post that he was on his own in New York when he got a phone call from Veselnitskaya.
The two then met for lunch at restaurant near Trump Tower.
Akhmetshin, who holds dual US-Russian citizenship, said that the lawyer initially sought his advice on what to say at the meeting before finally asking him to join her for the discussion with the oldest son of then-candidate Donald Trump.
“I was literally the only person wearing jeans and T-shirt” at the meeting, Akhmetshin told The Post.
Regarding the substance, Akhmetshin said that in the course of her work for clients, Veselnitskaya had discovered that a US hedge fund which “seemed linked to the (Democratic National Committee)” was operating in violation of Russian tax and securities law.
He adds that Veselnitskaya “left a document behind” after the meeting with Trump Jr., who was joined for the occasion by the then-head of his father’s campaign, Paul Manafort, and the candidate’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, and Manafort are being targeted by investigators looking for evidence of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Don Jr. said that the lawyer turned out not to have any information on Clinton and was instead seeking to lobby the campaign on a separate matter, while Veselnitskaya said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that she had no links to the Kremlin and never possessed any incriminating information about the Democratic presidential candidate.
Akhmetshin assured The Washington Post that his only connection with government service was the two years he spent in the Soviet army as a young conscript in a unit whose responsibilities included counterintelligence
“I never worked for the Russian government. I served as a soldier, for two years, like tens of millions of Russian young men who were drafted. I am proud of my military service. At no time have I ever worked for Russian government or any of its agencies. I was not an intelligence officer. Never,” he told the newspaper.