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‘Ex-Soviet Counter Intelligence Officer’ in Trump Jr’s Meeting Was ‘Accused of International Hacking Conspiracy’

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The $450 an Hour Operative Was Called a Russian ‘Gun-for-Hire,’ Allegedly Was Linked to an Opposition Research Firm

The man NBC News just revealed as also having attended Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a “Russian government lawyer” has been identified by the Associated Press as Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. 

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley in March of this year called Akhmetshin a “Russian ex-pat” who “allegedly failed to register” as a foreign agent “while working to dismantle Magnitsky Act.”

Senator Grassley also stated on his official Senate website, “Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant, has reportedly admitted to being a ‘soviet counterintelligence officer,’ and has a long history of lobbying the U.S. government for pro-Russia matters.”

If you’re wondering why Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner agreed to a meeting, or didn’t immediately walk out of the room and call the FBI when they learned who they were meeting with, you should be.

But there’s more. A lot more.

Grassley’s statement is the introduction to a complaint filed with then Acting Attorney General Dana Boente that alleges, as Grassley’s statement reads, “Former Russian Intel Officer Joined Lobbying Effort to Kill Pro-Whistleblower Sanctions for Kremlin.”

But there’s even more.

A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news article from 2016 profiled Rinat Akhmetshin. It describes him as a man “who for nearly 20 years has worked the shadowy corners of the Washington lobbying scene on behalf of businessmen and politicians from around the former Soviet Union.”

And a “Russian gun-for-hire.”

“I call him skilled because — though I am certain that they exist — I know of no Russian gun-for-hire who managed to run his campaigns so successfully, running circles around purportedly much more seasoned Washington hands,” says Steve LeVine, a veteran Washington reporter who explored some of Akhmetshin’s past work in his 2007 book The Oil And The Glory.

Akhmetshin “said he was paid $45,000 up front; in a later declaration, he stated his normal billing rate was $450 an hour.”

In other words, he makes more “up front” than the average American earns in a year. 

And there’s even more bombshell news about Akhmetshin.

The alleged former Soviet intelligence officer who attended the now-infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials last June was previously accused in federal and state courts of orchestrating an international hacking conspiracy,” The Daily Beast just reported.

There’s no easy way to summarize this without losing a lot of important details, so I urge you to read though this excerpt from The Daily Beast’s reporting by Kevin Poulsen, Nico Hines, and Katie Zavadski:

In court papers filed with New York Supreme Court in November 2015, Akhmetshin was described as “a former Soviet military counterintelligence officer” by lawyers for International Mineral Resources (IMR), a Russian mining company who alleged that they had been hacked.

Those documents accuse Akhmetshin of hacking into two computer systems and stolen sensitive and confidential materials as part of an alleged black ops smear campaign against IMR. The allegations were later withdrawn. 

The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. was told in July 2015 that Akhmetshin had arranged the hacking of a mining company’s private records—stealing internal documents and then disseminating them. The corporate espionage case was brought by IMR, who alleged that Akhmetshin was hired by Russian oligarch Andrey Melinchenko, an industrialist worth around $12 billion.

A New York law firm paid Akhmetshin $140,000, including expenses, to organize a public relations campaign targeting IMR. Shortly after he began that work, IMR suffered a sophisticated and systematic breach of its computers, and gigabytes of data allegedly stolen in the breach wound up the hands of journalists and human rights groups critical of the mining company. IMR accused Akhmetshin of paying Russian hackers to carry out the hack attack.

IMR went so far as to hire a private investigator to follow Akhmetshin on a trip to London. That private eye, Akis Phanartzis, wrote in a sworn declaration to the court that he eavesdropped on Akhmetshin in a London coffee shop and heard Akhmetshin boast that “he organized the hacking of IMR’s computer systems” on behalf of Melinchenko’s fertilizer producer Eurochem. “Mr. Akhmetshin [noted] that he was hired because there were certain things that the law firm could not do,” Phanartzis said.

Akhmetshin denied the accusation, but admitted passing around a “hard drive” filled with data on IMR’s owners.

Again, If you’re wondering why Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner agreed to a meeting, or didn’t immediately walk out of the room and call the FBI when they learned who they were meeting with, you should be.

There’s so much here, it’s stunning.

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Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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News

Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats

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U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

READ MORE: Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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News

Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

 

 

 

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OPINION

‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

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Donald Trump’s first return to Capitol Hill since the violent and deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection he fomented elicited responses of celebratory embrace, near-coronation, and a whitewashing of history from House and Senate Republicans and some of the mainstream media. That has critics sounding the alarm, likening their remarks to those of the subjects of authoritarian dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, a convicted felon awaiting sentencing who remains criminally indicted and out on bail in three other jurisdictions, an adjudicated rapist and fraudster who has been credibly accused by at least 18 to 23 or more women of varying degrees of sexual misconduct including harassment, assault, and rape, who allegedly had sex with a Playboy Bunny, and a porn star, the latter just four months after his third and current wife had given birth to their four-month old son.

He is a one-term, twice impeached ex-president who made over 30,000 “false or misleading claims” during his four years in the Oval Office, whose “inept and insufficient” response was in part responsible for about 40% of the COVID-19 pandemic deaths in the U.S., according to a February 2021 study that deemed them preventable.

And as of today, Donald Trump is 78 years old, and the subject of a New Yorker column published Friday alleging “age-related diminishment of a candidate.”

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

The ex-president met with House Republicans Thursday morning at the same restaurant where a pipe bomb was found outside on January 6, 2021. It’s just a seven-minute walk from the halls of Congress, where many of those same lawmakers who were jovially dining with and cheering on Trump, had huddled, hunkered-down, and fled through that centuries-old symbol of American democracy, afraid for their lives as supporters of the then-Commander-in-Chief – some of whom have said in court documents they believed were acting under his instructions – attacked the U.S. Capitol building and police, used the American flag as a spear, defecated on the walls, broke windows, damaged, destroyed, and stole U.S. Government property, hunted for the Democratic Speaker of the House, calling her by name, and hunted for the Republican Vice President, chanting their threats to “hang Mike Pence,” in a coordinated effort to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election he had lost by over seven million votes, and 74 Electoral College votes.

None of that matters now to the people’s elected representatives of the Republican Party in the House and Senate.

U.S. Senator, venture capitalist, and former “Never Trumper,” J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Thursday, walking in Washington, D.C. after he and nearly all of the Republican Senators met with Donald Trump and gave him a 30-second standing ovation, told reporters the GOP has absolved Trump of guilt and responsibility for the deadly insurrection three years ago.

“Well look, I think no real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming him for January the 6th. Frankly, some of his critics were in the room (Thursday) and were supportive and are supportive. So I think it’s a good thing and the Republican Party’s in a good place.”

After House Republicans had breakfast with Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, criticized for apparently not remembering Congress is a co-equal brach of the U.S. government and Donald Trump is no longer a leader of any branch of government, glowingly bragged the ex-president “said I’m doing a very good job.”

Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman, blasted Senate Republicans after they met with Trump, saying they “just rolled the red carpet out and welcomed him back with smiles and handshakes.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

He posted a photo of Trump warmly shaking hands with Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who reportedly had not spoken to Trump since before the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S Capitol, and on that day declared him “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection.

Journalist and Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar posted a “supercut” of Republicans responding to Trump’s visit, also likening their embrace to how subjects speak of dictators.

Award-winning Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall praised Rupar and blasted Republicans: “For all the ‘triumphant returns’ and ‘Trumps flexes’ and all the rest I don’t think anyone beside @atrupar really captured it. This was Pyongyang in the Rotunda. The maniacal clapping in unison, MTG almost breaking down in tears cuz Trump smiled at her. Total North Korea vibe.”

Critics are slamming not only House and Senate Republicans, but the mainstream media’s coverage, especially a social media post by the Associated Press, which declared Trump’s return to D.C. “triumphant,” a term often reserved for a conquering or undefeated hero.

Veteran journalist and D.C. Bureau Chief of Mother Jones, David Corn, co-author of the 2018 book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” criticized the AP’s post, saying: “Sounds like a North Korean report.”

Award-winning journalist Steve Silberman called the AP’s post, “an instant candidate for the Museum of American Fascism.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Buttigieg on Martha-Ann Alito: Flags Symbolizing Love vs. Insurrection Are Different

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