Russian Lawyer at Trump Tower Meeting Lied About Kremlin Ties, Prosecutors Charge

A new filing highlights Natalia Veselnitskaya’s connections to Russia’s prosecutor general.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on November 8, 2016Yury Martyanov/AFP/Getty Images

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Federal prosecutors have charged Natalia Veselnitskaya with lying in sworn statements about her ties to Russia’s top prosecutor, a new indication that Veselnitskaya acted as a Kremlin agent when she attended the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where she dangled an offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

In a complaint filed last month and made public on Tuesday, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York allege that Veselnitskaya obstructed justice while representing a Russian company called Prevezon Holdings that the Justice Department accused of money laundering in 2014. Veselnitskaya, who lives in Russia, is unlikely to be extradited to the United States, but the charges will probably stop her from traveling here or to countries with extradition treaties with the United States.

Prosecutors allege in the new filing that on November 17, 2015, Veselnitskaya falsely represented that she was not involved in drafting a response rebutting the charges against Prevezon sent by Russia’s prosecutor general to the US allegations against Prevezon. In fact, she had worked closely with the Russian office to craft the response, which purported to exonerate Prevezon and alleged fraud by a company that was run by US-born investor Bill Browder. Veselnitskaya “participated in drafting and editing” the Russian prosecutor’s response, the complaint says, citing emails in which Veselnitskaya and a supervising lawyer in the Russian prosecutor general’s office exchanged drafts of the response “with numerous tracked changes and comments.”

The Russian prosecutor general is Yury Chaika. That is the same person who publicist Rob Goldstone seemed to reference in 2016 when he emailed Donald Trump Jr. to tell him that Russia’s “crown prosecutor” had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Goldstone said the offer was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” (Goldstone later denied that he was referring to Chaika.) The email led to a June 9, 2016, meeting in the Trump Tower where Veselnitskaya outlined her supposed dirt, an effort to tie Browder to Clinton, to Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, then a top Trump campaign official. The Trump campaign officials have claimed the meeting went nowhere. But by meeting with Veselnitskaya, they signaled interest in collaborating with Russian efforts to harm Clinton’s presidential campaign.

When news of the meeting broke in 2017, all the participants downplayed the tie between Veselnitskaya and the Kremlin. But that cover story has since been badly undermined. Last April, Veselnitskaya told NBC News she was “an informant” and had “been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.” Tuesday’s filing buttresses her admission.

“She was an agent of Vladimir Putin,” Browder, who has become an activist against Russian corruption, said in an interview on Tuesday, referring to the Russian president. “She is still an agent of Vladimir Putin.”

Read the complaint:



SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate