Is Rinat Akhmetshin the ‘Former Russian Intelligence Officer’ Who Was a Source for the Steele Dossier?

August 19, 2018 Updated: August 20, 2018    

News Analysis

In a bombshell report released by The Hill on Aug. 9, reporter John Solomon revealed that top Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr took detailed notes from a meeting with Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, and those notes contained a very interesting section.

The report says Ohr scribbled, “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.”

It later adds, “A couple of the experts flagged that most of what Simpson allegedly told Ohr was not from Moscow—where the alleged plot was supposed to be based—but from a reported Russian in the United States who later seemed to disappear, according to Ohr’s notes.”

Note the language used: “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia.”

The quote from Ohr doesn’t say “Some of” or “A little bit of,” but instead says, “Much of.” So, whoever this currently anonymous former Russian intelligence officer is, it’s clear he would figure very prominently in any attempts to verify the information in the Steele dossier.

The pool of publicly known former Russian intelligence officers who live in the United States isn’t that large. So, there wouldn’t be that many people who fit Simpson’s description of this dossier source.

In fact, I already know of at least one very likely candidate. And people who’ve followed all the twists and turns in this ongoing drama for the past year and a half are already familiar with this candidate’s name: Rinat Akhmetshin. He is known for a very good reason.

Akhmetshin’s name first arose in the national media on July 15, 2017, when he was revealed to have been a participant in a meeting at Trump Tower that took place a year earlier, on June 9, 2016. Russian lobbyist Akhmetshin and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya got this meeting with Trump campaign team members Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, by claiming to have proof provided to them by Russian government sources that the Hillary Clinton campaign was receiving illegal foreign donations.

Once the meeting actually began, however, it quickly became clear it had been set up under false pretenses. Neither Veselnitskaya nor Akhmetshin had any evidence of the Clinton campaign doing anything wrong. As the disappointed Trump team looked on, the two Russians instead began lobbying them against the Magnitsky Act: the law passed by Congress placing sanctions on certain Russian businessmen involved in corruption. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it a top priority to get these sanctions lifted.

When news of the Trump Tower meeting first broke on July 8, 2017, Akhmetshin’s name was carefully kept out of sight. Only a week later, after constant media coverage, was Akhmetshin’s role in the meeting publicly acknowledged. In fact, it appears that the person who pointed the media to Akhmetshin was William Browder, who played the key role in getting the Magnitsky Act passed by Congress, as Natasha Bertrand reported for Business Insider at the time:

“NBC News initially declined to name Akhmetshin as the lobbyist who attended with Veselnitskaya. But William Browder, the founder of the investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital who spearheaded the Magnitsky Act, told Business Insider that there was ‘only one person’ who fit the profile described by NBC News.

“Browder added that Akhmetshin’s presence was highly significant.

“’In the world of Russian intelligence, there is no such thing as a “former intelligence officer,”‘ he said. ‘So in my opinion, you had a member of Putin’s secret police directly meeting with the son of the future next president of the United States asking to change US sanctions policy crucial to Putin.’

“There may also have been a sixth person at the meeting, Trump Jr.’s lawyer told NBC News on Friday morning, who was a friend of Emin Agalarov and served as a translator. Veselnitskaya told the New York Times earlier this week that an interpreter accompanied her to the meeting, but she did not mention Akhmetshin.”

Note also that NBC News had the information that Akhmetshin was present at this meeting but “declined” to name him. It’s almost as if there was an attempt to publicize the Trump Tower meeting and spin it as if actual collusion had taken place between the Trump campaign team and the Russian government, while leaving Akhmetshin’s name out of it.

The reason why those who leaked the news of this Trump Tower meeting would want to keep Akhmetshin under wraps becomes crystal clear if he turns out to be the main source for the Trump/Russia collusion allegations in Christopher Steele’s dossier.

This is because, like Steele, both Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya were affiliated with Fusion GPS. The Russian firm that was Veselnitskaya’s client had actually hired Fusion GPS to help her lobby against the Magnitsky Act.

In fact, despite all the intense media attention this Trump Tower meeting received beginning in July 2017, it wasn’t revealed until last November that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson had met with Veselnitskaya both before and then immediately after the Trump Tower meeting.

This, along with the bombshell of Ohr’s notes, brings up the $56,000 question: Were the Russians at this meeting acting as Putin government operatives OR were they actually there as Fusion GPS operatives working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, trying to entrap the Trump team by lying to them and misrepresenting themselves?

Brian Cates is a political pundit and writer based in southern Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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