Donald Trump Jr. and the White House claimed he was being transparent by releasing his emails about meeting with a Russian lawyer, but the media just reported something else they may have conveniently left out.
It's not terribly surprising that there was another person in that meeting. As I noted on Tuesday, the emails between Trump Jr. and a publicist arranging the meeting included this line from the publicist: "I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today." But it seemed possible that the person was merely a translator, given the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is not fluent in English.
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But Akhmetshin's presence will only increase suspicions about the nature of the meeting. NBC describes him as "a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence." Akhmetshin denies having served as a counterintelligence officer, and it's unclear what ties to Russia remain -- Akhmeshin's background will surely be a focus in the hours ahead -- but if it's true, "alleged former Russian agent attended meeting" sure looks like a bad headline.
Veselnitskaya, of course, has her own alleged ties, so Akhmetshin wouldn't be the first person in that meeting with supposed links to the Kremlin. (The Kremlin has denied knowing either of them.) But his presence would increase suspicions that the Russian government was truly behind this, as the publicist who arranged it suggested in those emails. In other words: It would feed the narrative that this meeting was, in fact, Donald Trump Jr. working with the Russian government, albeit through intermediaries.
But at the very least, the White House is allowing this story to get out of hand. Trump Jr. and his father, President Trump, claimed transparency about the meeting earlier this week. Now we come to find out they left out a very important detail -- one of the apparently now five people who was in the room. At this point, it's almost as if they are trying to look like they are hiding something.