Top Dem Lights Impeachment Fuse: Trump 'Welcomed' Russian Help in Election

Top Dem Lights Impeachment Fuse: Trump ‘Welcomed’ Russian Help in Election

The New York Times‘s revelation last Saturday that Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer is the bombshell that keeps on exploding. Here we are almost a week later and new details capable of dropping jaws are still emerging. On Friday, it was reported that Natalia Veselnitskaya was not the only Russian at the meeting. The meeting was also attended by Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist who is a former Soviet counterintelligence operative. And Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made his most strident comments about collusion yet.

Related: BREAKING: Trump Jr’s Russian Lawyer Meeting Was Set up by Putin Family Friend

The Associated Press broke the story about Akhmetshin,

“A Russian-American lobbyist says he attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump’s son, marking another shift in the account of a discussion that was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican’s White House campaign.”

NBC News reported that Akhmetshin is

” … a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.

“The lobbyist, first identified by the Associated Press as Rinat Akhmetshin, denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign.

“Born in Russia, Akhmetshin served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship. He did not respond to NBC News requests for comment Friday, but he told the AP the meeting was not substantive. ‘I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,’ he told the AP.”

Akhmetshin was accused of computer hacking and industrial espionage in a case brought by a Russian mining company and heard in US District Court in the District of Columbia in 2015. He was present at the meeting reportedly because Veselnitskaya told Trump Jr. with intent to mislead that Akhmetshin had the Russian government-based financial dirt on Hillary Clinton that she believed the Trump campaign was seeking.

The revelation highlights the fact that even as the Trump team tries to explain, spin, and distract away from the meeting, they still have not told the whole truth about it. Even after the president publicly patted his adult son on the head for his “transparency” after he released the allegedly whole email chain that led to the meeting, Junior was still omitting important facts about the meeting. This series of revelations makes it impossible to believe Trump administration statements about the meeting or its relations with Russia generally. It’s almost impossible to believe that they aren’t hiding more damning information about it when every new development leads further down the road paved with evidence of collusion.

Schiff didn’t hold back in a statement about this new plot twist, Friday. The Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence focused his fire on Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. Schiff highlighted the fact that Trump Jr. gave “misleading” statements about the meeting, and that Kushner has “had to twice amend his security clearance forms” because of new information about his contacts with Russian officials that he hadn’t disclosed when he received security clearance. With the observation that “it is clear the Kremlin got the message that Donald Trump welcomed the help of the Russian government,” Schiff’s statement potentially lit the fuse on an investigation into high crimes and misdemeanors, which could potentially lead to impeachment hearings.

Read Schiff’s full statement:

“Today’s report that a former Russian counter-intelligence officer was also present during the meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, if accurate, adds another deeply disturbing fact about this secret meeting. Donald Trump, Jr.’s denial of any such meetings, his misleading initial representation that it dealt only with adoptions — a statement evidently approved by the White House — and his later admission that the whole purpose of taking the meeting was to receive the support of the Russian government in the form of damaging information about Hillary Clinton paint a portrait of consistent dissembling and deceit when it comes to the campaign’s meetings with Russian officials and intermediaries.

“Similarly, reports that Jared Kushner had to twice amend his security clearance forms, only recently acknowledging this pivotal meeting, should cause his clearance to be reviewed — and if he was not perfectly candid — immediately revoked.

“Finally, whether the additional party or parties present during the meeting with these top Trump campaign personnel at the time Donald Trump had seized the nomination were connected directly with Russian intelligence or not, it is clear the Kremlin got the message that Donald Trump welcomed the help of the Russian government in providing dirt on Hillary Clinton. This was true not only because Donald Jr. said he would love such help, and, even if we are to believe his account of the meeting, expressed great dismay that he didn’t receive the damaging information he was promised, but also because candidate Trump himself made very clear his desire that the Russian government hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying they would be richly rewarded. Indeed that has proved all too true.”

Photo by Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty Images

Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master’s degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.

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Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master’s degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.

ReverbPress Mobile Apps ReverbPress iOS App ReverbPress Android App ReverbPress App