I wondered when we’d get to hear something from Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016.
Everybody knows the backstory already: A Trump associate arranges a meeting, presumably to feed Don Jr. some dirt on Hillary Clinton, saying it was the Russian government’s efforts to help Trump in the election.
Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Trump adviser/son-in-law, Jared Kushner were also present.
Junior says the meeting inevitably turned to a shut-down program involving Russian adoptions, and that was it.
Veselnitskaya is speaking out for the first time.
In a 10-minute interview on the Russian news program Vesti, Natalia Veselnitskaya said she sought the meeting as part of her efforts to help Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, a client who was accused of money laundering after the U.S. imposed new financial sanctions on Moscow in 2012.
“It was a private meeting,” Ms. Veselnitskaya told the interviewer, according to an account Friday in the Moscow Times. “I asked for help — help to get out a story I had come across in my professional capacity.”
The meeting “had nothing to do with [then-candidate Donald Trump’s] rivals or the presidential election,” she added. “That never happened. That’s not true.”
This is actually a new spin on what has been reported since the story first broke.
Donald Trump Jr. has been insisting the meeting was a big nothing, mainly centering on the suspended adoption program. He found himself drawn into the Mueller investigation because the emails suggested the Russian government was attempting to help his dad, and he readily agreed to accept that help.
Not smart, little Don.
In the television interview, Ms. Veselnitskaya said her purpose in speaking to the Trump campaign was part of an effort to speak to “everyone who could provide any kind of support in the U.S. Congress” for her client’s case.
She was harshly critical of William Browder, the head of Moscow investment firm Hermitage Capital Management, who successfully lobbied for U.S. sanctions on Russia after a Hermitage lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in custody in Moscow in 2009 while facing charges for questionable tax evasion charges.
That part is familiar.
Early reports of the conversation claimed she was highly critical of the Magnitsky Act, which freezes the assets of Russian officials, stashed in American financial institutions and real estate, and bars them from entering the country. This was a bipartisan effort to punish Human Rights abusers.
Browder sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 27 and testified that Veselnitskaya was in the June 2016 meeting, on behalf of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
“The Russian government and Vladimir Putin were in effect coming to this meeting,” Mr. Browder said.
But Ms. Veselnitskaya told the Russian news show the meeting was “innocent” and that Mr. Browder was running a “financial scam.”
She went on to complain that she hadn’t been asked to testify, and that investigators were looking to find an enemy, either in Trump or renewed conflict with Russia.
Lady, Russia tried to interfere in a U.S. election. They’ve been an active part in keeping conflict going.