Russian from Trump Tower meeting: ‘I am a lawyer, and I am an informant’
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential race, appears to have greater ties to the Russian government than she previously admitted.
The New York Times reports that Veselnitskaya in at least one instance worked for Russia’s chief legal office against the U.S. Justice Department in a fraud case targeting a top Russian firm with government connections.
And in an interview set to be broadcast Friday on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel,” Veselnitskaya calls herself an “informant” for the Russian government, an admission that goes further than her previous claims of just being a private attorney.
“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she says in the NBC interview. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”
The admission also comes despite testimony Veselnitskaya submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee in November, in which she claimed no connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.
“I operate independently of any governmental bodies,” she wrote in November. “I have no relationship with Mr. Chaika, his representatives and his institutions other than those related to my professional functions as a lawyer.”
Veselnitskaya was referring to Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, for whom on Friday she admitted to being a regular source of information.
Friday’s reports raises new questions about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by Trump Jr., Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and now senior adviser, and whether that meeting had connections to Russia’s government that were previously unknown.
It was previously reported that Rob Goldstone, a British music producer who set up the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya, told Trump Jr. that the information the lawyer could provide was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied to Goldstone in one email.
This story was updated at 12:55 p.m.
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