NBC News reported this morning that former Soviet counterintelligence officer and unregistered lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin was also present at the meeting where Donald Trump Jr. solicited damaging information about Hillary Clinton from Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Akhmetshin spoke with the Associated Press this afternoon when he said Veselnitskaya brought documents with her that she handed over to the Trumps.
During the meeting, Akhmetshin said Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democratic National Committee. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the Trump campaign, he said.
I don't buy the claim that she handed them documents that allegedly implicated the Democratic National Committee. She may have said that during the meeting, but I don't believe that's what it really was.
If that were the case, we would have heard about it. Trump's campaign surrogates and Trump himself spread numerous conspiracy theories and lies during the campaign, many of which were far flimsier than the idea that the DNC was receiving "illicit funds." The truth never stopped them from running their mouths. And it's all just a little too convenient, isn't it?
Moreover, we can't take Akhmetshin's word for it and we also can't trust Veselnitskaya or Donald Trump Jr. All of them appear to be compromised in some manner and we don't know to what extent the information they're disclosing now is being presented with an ulterior motive.
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about these claims and reports, but we know something bad happened. The F5 vortex of lies surrounding it is far too intense for it to be nothing.
The "Trump associates" who were present in the meeting were Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.