Russia is denying any knowledge of the Russian lawyer who reportedly met with President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., in June 2016.
The New York Times published a story Saturday on a meeting that took place between Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Trump’s then-campaign chair Paul Manafort, on June 9, 2016.
Trump Jr. said the meeting was set up by an acquaintence he knew from the Miss Universe pageant, who told him the person “might have information helpful to the campaign,” but he was not told who he would be meeting with.
Responding to the story on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had never heard of the woman.
“We don’t know who she is and, naturally, we can’t track the meetings of all Russian lawyers domestically and abroad,” Peskov reportedly stated.
Natalia Veselnitskaya is a criminal defense attorney, normally practicing in the courtrooms of Moscow’s suburbs, and had traveled to the U.S. last year on behalf of one of her clients, a family friend, Denis Katsyv, who was involved in a $14 million money laundering scandal.
Katsyv had been charged with converting proceeds of a $230 million tax fraud scheme into U.S. real estate.
Katsyv’s tax fraud was exposed by Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who mysteriously died in prison in 2008 after being arrested by the prosecutors he had identified as being involved in the case.
William Browder, who was Magnitsky’s employer, had asked the United States to issue sanctions in 2012 against the Russian officials involved in Magnitsky’s death. In retaliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin had banned U.S. adoptions of Russian children.
To get her client out of hot water, Ms. Veselnitskaya had reportedly claimed that it was actually Browder who had committed the $230 million tax fraud and arranged Magnitsky’s death to hide it.
Veselnitskaya therefore went on a lobbying campaign, and promoted a film, “The Magnitsky Act,” in an attack against Mr. Browder.
According to various reports, Veselnitskaya had pushed for a premiere of the film in the European Parliament, claiming she was a member of an organization fighting to overturn the Russian adoption ban.
Browder’s lawyers reportedly blocked the premiere from showing at the European Parliament.
Ms. Veselnitskaya had reportedly hired Washington-based Rinat Akhmetshin, to assist her. In April, the same man was targeted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, who asked Homeland Security to investigate him for potential lobbying violations.
The Washington Post reported that just four days after Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower, “Veselnitskaya was in Washington attending a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing that discussed sanctions and other aspects of U.S.-Russia relations.”
That same evening, the film she had been pushing was shown at the Newseum in Washington, where Russians in the audience became angry, shouting “Shame!” and “Lies!” after it was over.
In May, her client’s company, Prevenzon Holdings, settled the fraud case for $6 million without admitting any wrongdoing.
Even CNN admitted Monday, “Veselnitskaya is known for founding a group purporting to seek the removal of Moscow’s ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens.”
Regarding her meeting with Trump Jr., Mr. Browder commented, “There’s no mystery about her background. I’d be surprised that anyone who had done their due diligence would have agreed to meet with her.”
However, Donald Trump Jr. has stated he wasn’t told who it was that wanted to meet with him, prior to the June 2016 meeting.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested an opportunity to question him about the matter, to which he responded Monday afternoon, “Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know.”
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