Seventeen years ago, congressional investigators looking into money laundering stumbled upon an obscure Soviet-born financier who offered special services to his Russian clients. He had opened 2,000 companies in Delaware and more than 100 bank accounts for Russian clients who moved hundreds of millions of dollars through those accounts to overseas destinations, they found.
On Tuesday, that man, Irakly Kaveladze, resurfaced as the latest foreign guest on the ever-expanding list of participants at the June 2016 meeting where Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials were hoping to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
.. Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-born lobbyist who has spoken openly of his past as a Soviet intelligence officer and was accused of hacking one company’s computer system in American lawsuits that were later withdrawn.
.. And at Citibank alone, he opened 136 American accounts for Russian clients who moved more than $560 million through those accounts to overseas destinations, investigators said.
.. said Mr. Kaveladze was “the poster child” of the money-laundering schemes.
Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his involvement to The Associated Press in an interview. He had not been previously identified as a participant in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York, which was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican’s White House campaign.
Akhmetshin told the AP he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counterintelligence but he was never formally trained as a spy.
.. He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.
.. Akhmetshin said he recognized Kushner and Trump Jr. He also said he recognized Manafort because they worked in “adjacent political circles” but never together.
.. Schiff said Trump Jr.’s omission of Akhmetshin’s role in his public account of the meeting and the president’s son’s shifting explanations “paint a portrait of consistent dissembling and deceit.”
.. he was drafted but was not trained in spy tradecraft. He said his unit operated in the Baltics and was “loosely part of counterintelligence.”
.. in a March letter that Akhmetshin has “reportedly admitted to being a ‘Soviet counterintelligence officer’ and has a long history of lobbying the U.S. government for pro-Russia matters.”
This morning, news came out that some sketchy former Soviet counter-intelligence officer was also in the room. (What are the odds he recorded the conversation, by the way? I’d say they’re pretty high.)
.. Why the Hell are people taking the word of anyone in that meeting as proof of anything? Before this morning’s revelation, even members of the Trump-hostile press repeated that “nothing came of the meeting” or that “no information was given.” On the Trump Aqueduct, this was translated into the whole story being a “nothingburger.” Where did the proof of this come from? From the people in the room! Jiminy Cricket, that’s stupid.
.. But every single person who was in that room has a very strong incentive to say nothing nefarious happened in the room. Well, when the Soprano crew is jointing a corpse in the backroom of Satriale’s, everyone there has a vested interest in sticking to the story that they were just playing cards.
.. Who in that room do you think is above lying about what transpired there? Paul Manafort? Forget his deep Russian connections. The guy was a lobbyist for Mobutu Seske Seko.
.. Jared? The guy who initially “forgot” that meeting happened at all? Don Jr.? We already know he’s capable of lying about the meeting because he’s already lied about the meeting.
.. the Associated Press reported that the sketchy former Soviet counter-intelligence guy, Rinat Akhmetshin, who was in the room claims that Veselnitskaya did indeed hand over a file of incriminating info.
..This is like one of those episodes of Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” where some sleazebag is catfished into having a “date” with a 13-year-old girl only to show up and find Chris Hansen waiting in the kitchen with a transcript of their conversations. At least those scumbags had the “integrity” to lie and say it was all a misunderstanding and that they were just there because they really like hanging out and watching MTV and eating ice cream.
.. I don’t recall any of them saying, “Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong because I didn’t actually get a chance to rape her.”
If you break into a bank, you can’t claim you did nothing wrong if the safe turns out to be empty any more than a terrorist can plead innocence if his bomb didn’t go off.
.. Yes, “Crooked Hillary,” Ted Kennedy, and a host of other liberals did bad things. Whether those bad things were analogous to this is highly debatable. But let’s just concede the point for argument’s sake. Let’s also accept the president’s grotesquely cynical and false claim that pretty much anyone in politics would have done the same thing and taken the meeting. (I for one am perfectly happy to concede that Sidney Blumenthal would happily have done equally sleazy things for his Queen-master. But I have every confidence that if some shady Russian cutouts approached, say, James Baker with a similar scheme to “incriminate” Michael Dukakis, he would become a helicopter of fists.)