Former Soviet agent attended Trump Jr meeting

Lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin is named in US Senate documents as a former “Soviet counter-intelligence officer”

Former Soviet agent attended Trump Jr meeting

File photo: Donald Trump Jr. on Fox News, 11-07-2017. Image: Richard Drew/AP/Press Association Images

A former Soviet counter-intelligence officer attended Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016, according to reports.

Lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin – who holds dual Russian-American citizenship – confirmed he attended the meeting to the Associated Press.

Mr Akhmetshin is named in US Senate documents as a former “Soviet counter-intelligence officer.”

He has denied any ties to Russian spy agencies but confirmed he served in the Soviet military before emigrating to the US, according to NBC News.

He told the Associated Press he served in a unit that was part of counterintelligence but was never formally trained as a spy.

Russia meeting

Jared Kushner - Mr Trump's son-in-law and current White House senior adviser - and Paul Manafort - Former Trump campaign chairman - also attended the June meeting.

Mr Akhmetshin said the discussion was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help Mr Trump during the election campaign.

File photo: Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to journalists in Moscow, Russia, 11-07-2017. Image: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

He said Lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya presented the Trump associates with details of what she believed were illicit funds that had been funnelled to the Democratic National Committee.

She told the men that she believed the information could help the Trump campaign.

While she could not provide Mr Trump Jr with evidence to back up her claims, she suggested further research could unearth it.

Mr Akhmetshin said the President’s son lost interest in the conversation at that point.

He said the conversation was "not substantive" and that he "actually expected more serious" discussion.

Email release

On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr released the entire email chain leading up to the meeting – causing a media storm in Washington.

However, he did not disclose Mr Akhmetshin's presence at the meeting.

The emails revealed that the President’s son was told the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” had offered information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

He was told the “very high level and sensitive information” was being offered as part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”

Mr Trump Jr responded, "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."

He did not notify authorities of the approach.

The potential link between the Trump campaign and Russia is the subject of an investigation by a federal special counsel.

US President Donald Trump talks with French President Emmanuel Macron during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Concorde Square in Paris, 14-07-2017. Image: Xinhua/Jack Chan

President Trump has since defended his son’s actions insisting he has been "open, transparent and innocent" about the controversy.

He has also suggested that “most people would have taken that meeting” and claimed the Russia investigation is the “greatest witch hunt in political history.”

The Russian government has denied any involvement or knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Asked on Friday about Mr Akhmetshin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, told reporters: "We don't know anything about this person."

Alleged counterintelligence officer

Details on Mr Akhmetshin's identity come mostly from a letter sent earlier this year from the US Senate's Judiciary Committee chairman to the head of Homeland Security.

It says the lobbyist is Russian-born, but moved to the US in the 1990s and became an American citizen in 2009.

Mr Akhmetshin is described as a former "Soviet counterintelligence officer", who worked for the GRU - Russian foreign military intelligence.

The letter cites reports that he "specialises in 'active campaign measures', ie subversive political influence operations often involving disinformation and propaganda."

It says Mr Akhmetshin denied the allegations, despite his "admission to the press that he had been a Russian intelligence officer, in response to a different press inquiry."

Speaking after his presence at the 2016 meeting emerged, Mr Akhmetshin claimed he was drafted to serve in the Soviet Army from 1986 to 1988 but was not trained in any spy tradecraft.

Additional reporting from IRN ...