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russian election hacking


The Helsinki summit between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin will go ahead as planned despite tension over Russia’s alleged election meddling, the White House says.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will meet for talks in the Finnish capital on July 16.

“It’s on,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

However, there are calls for the meeting to be canceled after the US charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with election interference on July 13.

For its part, Russia said it was looking forward to the meeting.

Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov said: “We consider Trump a negotiating partner. The state of bilateral relations is very bad. We have to start to set them right.”

The announcement that the Russians had been charged with hacking Democratic officials during the 2016 presidential election sparked a heated war of words between Washington and Moscow.

Russia’s foreign ministry said the claims were a “heap of conspiracy schemes” intended to “damage the atmosphere” before July 16 summit.

It said there was no evidence linking any of the dozen officials to hacking or military intelligence.

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein insisted that “the goal of the conspirators was to have an impact on the election”.

Image NBC News

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The 11-count indictment names the Russians defendants, alleging they began cyber-attacks in March 2016 on the email accounts of staff for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The Russians are accused of using keystroke reading software to spy on the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and hack into the party’s computers.

Rod Rosenstein said the conspirators used fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0”, to release thousands of stolen emails.

They are also accused of stealing the data of half a million voters from a state election board website.

During a joint news conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, President Trump said he would “absolutely” ask Vladimir Putin about alleged election meddling.

Top Democrats have urged President Trump to cancel the planned summit altogether following the indictment.

Republican Senator John McCain said the summit “should not move forward” unless the president “is prepared to hold Putin accountable”.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating US intelligence findings that Russians conspired to sway the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.

As of July 13, the inquiry has indicted 32 people – mostly Russian nationals in absentia – as well as three companies and four former Trump advisers.

None of the charges allege Trump advisers colluded with Russia to interfere with the presidential campaign.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser, have pleaded guilty to making false statements about their contacts with Russians.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were charged with money laundering relating to their political consultancy work in Ukraine.


Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet intel officer turned lobbyist, attended a meeting last year with senior aides to President Donald Trump and his son, it has emerged.

Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed to media he was present at the Trump Tower encounter.

Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging material on Hillary Clinton at the meeting, his emails show.

Donald Trump’s eldest son has only previously acknowledged that a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was present.

Donald Trump Jr. has played down the June 9, 2016, meeting since it was reported this week.

However, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Donald Trump Jr. to publicly testify.

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Several congressional panels and federal investigators are looking into claims that Russia meddled in last year’s election in a bid to help Donald Trump.

The New York meeting was also attended by Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and election chairman, Paul Manafort.

It has emerged as the firmest evidence yet of non-diplomatic interactions between Trump campaign aides and Russian figures.

During a news conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, President Trump said that “most people would have taken that meeting”.

Image source Flickr

“Zero happened,” he said.

Rinat Akhmetshin told the AP news agency he served in a Soviet military unit that was part of counterintelligence, but that he was never formally trained as a spy.

In court papers filed with the US District Court in Washington DC, where he lives, a mining company accused him of organizing a hack on its private records as part of an alleged smear campaign.

Donald Trump Jr. Admits Meeting Russian Lawyer During Campaign

International Mineral Resources hired a private investigator to follow Rinat Akhmetshin to London.

The Russian-American was overheard in a coffee shop bragging about arranging the cyber-attack on the firm’s computer system, according to court documents.

Rinat Akhmetshin denied the allegations, and the case was later dropped.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the Russian government knows nothing about Rinat Akhmetshin, the AP reported.

Rinat Akhmetshin told the Washington Post he became a US citizen in 2009 but retains his Russian nationality.

He is a registered lobbyist who has focused in recent years on overturning the 2012 US Magnitsky Act.

The law, which froze the assets of senior Russian officials, angered President Vladimir Putin.

Rinat Akhmetshin told the Washington Post he only accompanied Natalia Veselnitskaya to the Trump Tower meeting on the spur of the moment after meeting her for lunch.

He said he showed up with her at the Manhattan skyscraper wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

Rinat Akhmetshin said he and Natalia Veselnitskaya were joined by an interpreter.

“I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,” he said.

The meeting was set up by Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist for Russian pop star Emin Agalarov.

Emin Agalarov worked with Donald Trump on staging the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013.

Emails show that Rob Goldstone promised Donald Trump Jr. that Natalia Veselnitskaya, whom he described as a “Russian government attorney”, would share damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump Jr. said it became apparent as they spoke that Natalia Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss a suspended program for Americans to adopt Russian children.

However, Rinat Akhmetshin told the AP that Natalia Veselnitskaya informed Donald Trump Jr. she had details of possible illicit funds being funneled to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” he said he recalled her saying.

According to Rinat Akhmetshin, Donald Trump Jr. asked her if she had evidence to prove the claim, but the lawyer urged the Trump campaign to research the matter.

Donald Trump’s son appeared to lose interest, said Rinat Akhmetshin.

“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he added.

Donald Trump Jr. has admitted meeting a Russian lawyer last year who, he says, promised to reveal damaging material on Hillary Clinton.

However, the president’s son insisted that Natalia Veselnitskaya had provided “no meaningful information” on his father’s rival for the presidency.

President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign head, Paul J. Manafort, were also at the meeting.

US officials are currently investigating alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

The meeting took place on June 9, 2016, at New York’s Trump Tower, just two weeks after Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination.

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It is thought to be the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Donald Trump’s inner circle.

After the New York Times first reported the meeting on July 8, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement which confirmed that it had taken place but did not mention whether it was related to the presidential campaign.

However, another Times report, on the next day, said Donald Trump Jr. had agreed to the meeting after being offered information that would potentially prove detrimental to Hillary Clinton.

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The newspaper cited three White House advisers briefed on the meeting, and two others with knowledge for it, as its sources.

Image source Wikimedia

Donald Trump Jr. said that an acquaintance he had known from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant had set up the meeting. The Washington Post confirmed that figure to be music publicist Rob Goldstone, who has links to the Russian music industry.

In a statement on July 9, Donald Trump Jr. said he had been asked to meet “an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign”.

“I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared [Kushner] and Paul [Manafort] to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.”

Donald Trump Jr.’s statement continues: “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.

“Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.

“She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act.

“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”

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Natalia Veselnitskaya said on July 8 that “nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign” and insisted she had “never acted on behalf of the Russian government and have never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government”.

The Magnitsky Act was adopted by Congress in 2012 and allows the US to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian officials thought to have been involved in human rights violations.

The law so incensed President Vladimir Putin that he suspended a program allowing Americans to adopt Russian children.

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a lawyer whose clients include companies and individuals said to be close to the Kremlin and her main role has been campaigning against the Magnitsky Act.