And Now Akmetshin, or Why the Hell *Didn’t* Obama ‘Tapp’ Team Trump?

A couple days ago Marcy pointed out that Donnie Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016, offered proof the Obama administration didn’t ‘wiretapp’ the Trump campaign.

Which is all fine and dandy until today’s revelation that a former-GRU-agent-cum-campaign-hacker-now-lobbyist present at the same meeting.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

It’s bad enough contacts with foreign nationals have to be teased out one by one from Team Trump, but to appear to hide multiple Russian contacts attending one meeting, particularly those with background in military and/or intelligence, is utterly ridiculous.

If this meeting was completely on the up-and-up, wouldn’t Junior have included the names of ALL the attendees in his online spill-fest?

It’s almost as if Junior and the rest of Team Trump knew that the presence of more than one Russian, particularly Rinat Akhmetshin, wasn’t a good thing.

It’s almost as if Natalia Veselnitskaya knew Akhmetshin’s presence wasn’t a good thing, either, since the communications Junior dumped online don’t indicate her intention to bring Akhmetshin with her to the June 9th meeting.

Read the AP’s reporting and see if you don’t come away with a bunch of new questions about Junior’s meeting. I sure did…

— Did Veselnitskaya leave documents with Junior and the rest of Team Trump? Akhmetsin is very sketchy on this point.

— Did any U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agency have any indication that Akhmetshin as well as Veselnitskaya were in NYC let alone at Trump Tower? Keep in mind the Evgeny Buryakov case and the “others known and unknown” who had been supporting Buryakov and two other Russian spies in 2013.

— Were members of the Gang of Eight, including Mitch McConnell and Devin Nunes, told last summer before the election of the multiple Russians meeting with Junior and Team Trump, even without any ‘wiretapp’ used on foreign national attendees? Is this one of the issues which riled up former Sen. Harry Reid, encouraging him to send a letter to former FBI Director Jim Comey to ask for an investigation?

— Are U.S. intelligence agencies not following Akhmetsin because he was believed to be a registered lobbyist, in spite of the fact he’s accused of being a hacker AND the U.S. government had been repeatedly hacked by Russia in 2015-2016?

— Has Team Trump been in contact with DHS’ Mike Kelly at all about Akhmetsin, especially since Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Kelly [pdf] in April this year asking for more information about Akhmetsin?

If I think about this much longer, I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more questions. I don’t know how there wasn’t some form of ‘tapp’ following so many Russians in one spot, considering the Prevezon money laundering case was still open in the background. I get it — wiretapping defense lawyers is a no-no. But a meeting at which Rinat Akhmetsin was present, in a building where Russian money laundering had been conducted?

The whole situation stinks like a week-old kulebyáka left in the sun.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
27 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    this comment wanders only a little bit off.

    for several months now i have had the feeling that some higher level congressional republicans KNEW that the russians had actively aided trump and also actively aided some republican congressionals. the five senators in the 2016 tightest races for one group,and certsin r. house members also.
    if you know enough to monkey with american voters beliefs, you know enough to know that a republican congress could protect trump or stymie clinton. .manipulating voters in fla, n.c., wisconsun would be a double play, tight?

  2. orionATL says:

    of coarse, republican disinterest could be explained most simply as being intended to protect the president.

    but devin nunes’ tricks in concert with the white house spook-kid who had been protected from a mcmaster sacking by bannon seemed to suggest more than studied indifference to russian interference on the part of some hi-level cong r’s. and a serious effort to start a distracting backfire.

    at one point kevin mcarthy made light of rohrbacher and trump being the r.’s “paid” by the russians.mcarthy has a way of blurting out what is really going on.

    congressionsl race interference should definitely be on the to-do list of mueller.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, not buying the language thing. Why would she represent a defendant in a federal money laundering case if she wasn’t fluent in English, sufficient to pass the local bar?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Does not matter. He is also a Russian citizen, alleged former COINTEL agent. Does not matter. If he realized he was already now exposed, may explain his ‘leak’. Trump may have already promised him a pardon. Did he call people in Russia? Likely. Likely intercepted. Even if he did not call someone in Russia, he was still likely recorded. 702 is smoke.

  3. SpaceLifeForm says:

    WTF? Now 8 people at meeting. Now another translator? (first report was lie then. Cover BS story)

    ‘Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive”

    Is Goldstone original Guccifer?
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/14/politics/donald-trump-jr-meeting/index.html

    Sio far acknowledged in attendance: Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin and publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting. A source familiar with the circumstances told CNN there were at least two other people in the room as well, a translator and a representative of the Russian family [my guess: Aras Agalarov] who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. The source did not provide the names.

    • bmaz says:

      Jesus, what in the hell are you yammering about?? This commentary is simply insane, and you have exactly zero credible basis for deploying such insane BS here.

      You are a newer commenter, and are welcome. But we do NOT traffic in insane batshit here. Whether from you, or anybody else. Stop.

      In answer to this batshit, which was a run on from your previous comment in this thread, NV had to have an interpreter for the TV interview.

      Here is an actual sworn affidavit in SDNY attesting to the fact she neither speaks nor writes English.

      But, I am sure that you, SpaceLifeForm, have a better authority and personal knowledge than that evident to a major American broadcast television network and accepted, over months of litigation, by a Federal court on a major case.

      Can you elaborate? I’ll be waiting for that.

       

      • Rayne says:

        Oops, your link doesn’t work. I’ve seen the affidavit but only the first page, would love to read the rest, thanks.

        She may say she can’t speak English, but this also means 1) she had to have an interpreter everywhere — why didn’t Junior indicate that? Why didn’t the emails he dumped indicate a translator would be in attendance? Are we supposed to believe someone of Akhmetsin’s stature is merely an interpreter? 2) if she doesn’t speak English, she’s fucking useless as an attorney here in the U.S. with regard to U.S./international laws, if she’s got a practice in Russia focusing on Russian business under Russian laws.

        Unless the point is that she’s not here to practice law in any shape or form.

        Have now read at least a half dozen articles & watched an NBC video (in which she spoke Russian). It’s funny how none of the written & video interview ever mention a translator and they’re all able to get statements from her readily. Hmmm…

  4. Cold N. Holefield says:

    Next thing you know, it’ll be leaked Obama was at the meeting. When confronted about it, he’ll say he Choked.

    I mean, Come On Down — You’re The Next Contestant On Collusion Is Right.

    • John Casper says:

      Cold,

      If Kushner isn’t the leaker of the Don Jr. emails, who is?

      Did Kushner leak these latest details about the meeting, or are those coming from others? If so, who are your leading candidates?

      • Cold N. Holefield says:

        I’m not sure, but in my opinion, the steady leaks, the drip drip drip of it, benefit Trump, not hurt him. It’s wearing the American Psyche down. It’s slowly but surely inuring The Public to the audacity of Putin’s soft-glove take over of America.

        Look at Erin Burnett, for example. She’s exhausted. You can tell she’s sick of it as are many of us. Who wants to eat, drink and breath this Fat Orange Slob every day all day? Not me, and I know I’m not alone. And yet that’s what we’re forced to do. Trump is wearing everyone down. And that’s very dangerous, because if he’s not deposed sooner rather than later, he will ultimately grow stronger and opposition to him weaker.

        It’s Now Or Never……

        • John Casper says:

          The “drip, drip, drip…” contradicts Trump’s opposition to globalization, that matters to his supporters.

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Dots.

    Preet Bharara, Katsyv, Kamerton Consulting, Michael McFaul, Martash Investment Holding

  6. JG says:

    I hope Akhmetsin defects and/or  makes a refugee deal. His answers don’t indicate that he feels comfortable going back to Russia. Russia has had a history of not extraditing cyber criminals, a camp Akhmetsin seems to be in. Hoever, he seems very willing to contradict Veselnitskya and hence I wonder where he will be living next year.

  7. LESTER says:

    The drip, drip could be how the FBI applies pressure.  Conspiracy investigations require: confronting low level participant A with innocuous facts known to be true and asking them to corroborate x fact, under threat of perjury. Step 2, you confront higher level participant B with what participant A said and ask for more facts above and beyond x fact.  When everyone knows you are doing dozens of concurrent interviews under oath they talk when they are younger and have less job security.

    Maybe they started asking the receptionist, “did you hear Russian accents in the waiting room” and now they are at the level of advisors and want to kick it up to the real inner circle of advisors. It would make sense to apply pressure via the press when you are moving into the really crucial interviews.

    FWIW Akmetsin could already be cooperating. We don’t know.

    I also wish I knew who these sources were.

     

  8. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT?: Lack of security in DC. Seems to be a lot of trolling recently. Redaction is hard.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/14/white-house-releases-sensitive-personal-information-of-voters-worried-about-their-sensitive-personal-information/

    Unfortunately for these voters and others who wrote in, the Trump administration did not redact any of their personal information from the emails before releasing them to the public. In some cases, the emails contain not only names, but email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and places of employment of people worried about such information being made available to the public.

  9. orionATL says:

    on reflection, there is no reason to believe that russian interference in american elections began suddenly in 2016. nor any reason to believe it required collusion with an american source to be implemented.

    i recall reading that a high-level russian general decided a few years back that, as a matter of economy and effectiveness, the russian gov should become involved in cyberpolitics. it is cheaper, requiring less expensive military material like tanks and planes, can be difficult to recognize or trace, and can be effective over time in deteriorating an alliance inimical to russia, like NATO.

    like any military program, this one would likely have been tested. perhaps in the u. s., perhaps in europe – in sweden, greece, poland, hungry, or austria. and it certainly would have had historical covert action antecedents from the russian cia-equivalent institution.

    it would be interesting to look for political contests in the u. s. between say 2008 and 2015 which might have been tempting targets for a soviet cyberpolitical intrusion to test and improve the concept, searching in a manner analogous to paleontologists today looking for sites that would have been attractive to hominids living 50,000 yrs ago.

  10. orionATL says:

    i want to leave a systems-level comment here.

    the u. s. political system in general and its electoral system in particular (including money, advertising, gerrymandering, voting) are all and eminently manipulable. they can easily be and very frequently are gamed.

    this is because the system has been around for 250 yrs, because the referee, the supreme court, can be gamed, because voters are often ignorant and easy to manipulate, because we have relatively new institutions like lobbying firms and corporations that are in fact propaganda generators but legally operate as ersatz news media, because we have new electronic technology that allows extraordinarily intense, widespread interpersonal communication and psychological manipulation, because our political system allows small groups of individuals with a focused agenda and a great deal of money to shape public discourse and thru that, public policy, and because voter suppression was built into the origins of the nation.

    the koch brothers built a political octopus that demonstrates how easily and effectively a small, heavily-monied group can control a national political agenda.

    the citizens united, civil rights act, and hobby lobby supreme court decisions show how a court manipulated by a single party and packed with extreme partisans can facilitate gaming the political system.

    the fact that the dem presidential candidate won the popular vote overwhelmingly but lost to a minority candidate by less than 1 vote per precinct indicates that intentional, structural constitutional gaming combined with electronic voter manipulation is a potent political tool for gaming the electoral system.

    this above is just prelude to the russian and/or russian/republican gaming of our political system in 2016. the koch bros and their billionaire fellow travelers – waltons, olins, scaifes, petersons, devoes, adelsones, Mercers, johnsons, thiels in the hundreds, the big data manipulating technicians, showed the russians how to get the job done.

    the points here are two:

    1. the american political system is completely understood and so open to gross gaming of elections and other political actions. extraordinary individual wealth facilitates easy manipulation.

    2. the russians got here late, but doubtless have observed with great interest successful home-grown manipulations that were not public spirited nor in the public interest.

  11. GKJames says:

    It appears that Akhmetshin volunteered this information. And assuming that once GRU, always GRU, what’s Moscow’s motive in directing him to do this? With sanctions not going anywhere, and with Moscow’s latest signalling of an intent to ratchet up pressure via threatened expulsion of US diplomats because Washington shut down the Long Island compounds, could it be as simple as: We didn’t get from this guy what we thought we would [sanctions relief], so let’s at least have some fun with this by stirring the shit some more?

  12. harpie says:

    Two related pieces [I’m only going to try one link]:
    Russian American lobbyist was present at Trump Jr.’s meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer; WaPo; July 14 at 9:54 PM 
    This article calls Rinat Akhmetshin  a “veteran of the Soviet military”, but he himself has said that he is former Soviet military Intelligence. [Might not be important?]
    And, about the congressional hearing where Michael McFaul was testifying: 

    In fact, [Veselnitskaya’s] seat had been reserved for her by a Republican consultant with close ties to the Trump campaign.
    Lanny Wiles, whose wife, Susie, was then chairing the Trump campaign in Florida, said in an interview that he came early to scout out the seat and was there at the request of Akhmetshin, with whom he was working as a consultant on the sanctions-related adoption issue.

    Was there an interpreter in the photo?
    And:
    Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting sure sounds like a Russian intelligence operation; Rolf Mowatt-Larssen July 14 at 1:48 PM
     

    […] But everything we know about the meeting — from whom it involved to how it was set up to how it unfolded — is in line with what intelligence analysts would expect an overture in a Russian influence operation to look like. […] 
     

  13. orionATL says:

    [email protected]:07am

    well, this is interesting:

    “…  [Veselnitskaya’s] seat had been reserved for her by a Republican consultant with close ties to the Trump campaign.
    Lanny Wiles, whose wife, Susie, was then chairing the Trump campaign in Florida, said in an interview that he came early to scout out the seat and was there at the request of Akhmetshin, with whom he was working as a consultant on the sanctions-related adoption issue… ”

    well, maybe all the fbi has do do is substitute the phrase” election manipulation info gathering and distribution” for the phrase “working to reverse sanctions” and then go about the country looking in critical and likely close states (like fla) for republicans state campaign officials who had meet or corresponded with the anti-sanctions russians and their operatives.

    check out n. car., wisconsin, pennsylvania, n. hamp, ohio – all close senate races as well (and highly relevant to electoral college outcome).

    bet you’ll find anti-sanctions footprints in some or all of these.

    i always wondered how as fine a senator as russ feingold could have been rejected again by wisconsin voters or how portman or toomey survived.

  14. orionATL says:

    it occurs to me that there is no reason to limit an examinatoon of possible russian electoral aid in 2016 to the trump campaign.

    why not collusion between russians and parts of the koch octopus? or the club for growth? or evangelical christian leaders? or republican campaign officials in selected states?

    a focus on the trump campaign makes a lot of sense in light of the odd, last-minute voting shifts and the unusual number of sit-it-outs among dem voters in some states. but, as i noted above, the u. s. electoral system is ripe for gaming in dozens of ways.

    i wouln’t get fixated solely on the trump campaign or on campaign officials.

    private groups might be happy make cause with the russians!!

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