WASHINGTON — A former veteran of the Soviet army, who has long been part of a pro-Kremlin lobbying effort in Washington, said he also attended the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer.
The presence of the Russian-American lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, adds another twist to the evolving story about the meeting, which Donald Trump Jr. set up after learning that the lawyer had damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. also invited Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a campaign adviser, as well as Paul J. Manafort, who at the time was the campaign chairman.
Mr. Akhmetshin, who lives in Washington , is well known in congressional circles, and worked with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as part of an effort to undermine an American law that sanctions Russians for human rights abuses. The law infuriated President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Mr. Akhmetshin said in a brief interview on Friday that he took part in the meeting at the request of Ms. Veselnitskaya. He described his time in the military as routine, serving from 1986 to 1988, like “millions of other Soviet boys.” He left the military as a sergeant and said he did not have any ties to Russian intelligence.
NBC News first reported Mr. Akhmetshin’s role in the meeting, but did not identify him. He confirmed to The Associated Press that he attended the meeting.
Alan S. Futerfas, Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, said, “We do acknowledge there was one person — and perhaps a second — whose identity we did not know.” They might have been Mr. Akhmetshin and a translator, he said, but no one now recalls the individuals’ names and there is no log or document showing who attended.
“The frustrating part of this exercise is that it concerns events that occurred 13 months ago that were considered insignificant at the time and essentially forgotten,” Mr. Futerfas said.