Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have concluded that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to swing the election for now-President Donald Trump.
Donald Trump Jr. has acknowledged that lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya was to deliver damaging information on his father’s opponent Hillary Clinton at a meeting on June 9, 2016, just months before the election. The meeting is a subject of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Veselnitskaya had previously described herself as a private, independent attorney, not a Russian operative. But she told NBC: “I am a lawyer, and I am an informant.” She added that she had been “actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general” since 2013. The prosecutor general is top Kremlin official Yuri Chaika.
A trove of Veselnitskaya’s emails obtained by NBC and The New York Times show that she worked closely with the Kremlin’s prosecutor general’s office to thwart a 2014 U.S. Justice Department request for records concerning Prevezon Holdings Ltd., a well-connected Russian real estate company that was accused of a money laundering scheme in New York.
The NBC interview was the first time Veselnitskaya has publicly described herself in the American media as an informant. But it’s widely known that she has represented several Kremlin interests in her work. The FSB, Russia’s successor to the Soviet-era KGB, was a longtime client of hers, Reuters has reported. Vladimir Putin headed the FSB before he became Russia’s president.
The 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Veselnitskaya, Trump campaign leaders and others was arranged after a publicist for Russian singer Emin Agalarov emailed Donald Trump Jr. offering damaging information on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras, a billionaire Moscow developer, sponsored the elder Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow in 2013.
Donald Trump Jr. replied, “I love it” in a series of emails he later released publicly.
Last summer, as news was about to break about the bombshell meeting, the president personally dictated a misleading statement for his son, sources told The Washington Post. Donald Trump Jr. issued a statement to The New York Times that meeting participants “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” The subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time,” he claimed at the time, though his account changed in later statements.
Veselnitskaya reportedly addressed U.S. sanctions against Russia in the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. later described as unproductive. Democratic National Committee emails hacked by Russians linked to the Kremlin were published by WikiLeaks the following month.
Veselnitskaya told The Associated Press last week that Mueller has not contacted her as part of his investigation. However, she said she did meet with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Germany last month.
She also said she won’t travel to the U.S. for such a discussion because she is afraid for her safety.