By her own account, the Russian lawyer that managed to slide her way into Trump Tower last year and meet with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, his campaign manager and son-in-law is a former Moscow prosecutor who had been denied a visa to enter the United States.
Natalia Veselnitskaya filed an affidavit in a federal case in New York describing how she managed to get special permission to enter the United States after the visa denial to help represent a Russian company called Prevezon Holdings owned by the Russian businessman Denis Katsyv in a case brought against it by U.S. prosecutors.
“I represent victims in many criminal cases involving economic crimes. I have been retained by Denis Katsyv and the defendants in this action to assist their attorneys in the United States, Baker & Hostetler LLP to prepare their defense,” she wrote in the January 2016 affidavit filed in court in New York City.
“As counsel to Defendants, it is important that I be able to participate in the defense of this action by traveling to the United States. For that reason, I applied for a visa to enter the United States, but was denied,” she added. “I also applied for entry visas for my children, so that they could be together with me over the Christmas holiday while I was working in New York on this lawsuit, but this was also denied. However, the United States did issue a parole letter for me to enter the United States in order to help defend this lawsuit.”
It was apparently during the time she was in the United States on that parole entry that she arranged to meet with Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower.
During the meeting Veselnitskaya raised the issue of restoring U.S. adoptions inside Russia if the United States would repeal the Magnitsky Act, a law passed in 2012 punishing Moscow for human rights violations in connection with the death of a lawyer who had discovered a massive money laundering scheme inside the country.
Vladimir Putin has long reviled the Magnitsky Act and fought to have it repealed. And according to letter from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley, the Kremlin’s main fight against the law was led by Veselnitskaya’s client, Katsyv.
Another player in the Russian influence scandal, the U.S.-based political firm Fusion GPS, was also involved in helping Prevezon, Katsyv and Baker Hostetler, according to the Grassley letter. Fusion has been a major focal point of the FBI and Congress because it hired a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele to produce a salacious intelligence dossier that made wild and still unsubstantiated claims about Trump ties to Russia.
Congressional investigators involved in the Russian influence case told Circa on Sunday that they are almost certain to probe if Veselnitskaya used her parole entry status to contact the Trump family and whether there is any connection to the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS.
“This is new information that raises all sorts of new questions and we are digging into it as we speak,” one congressional investigator told Circa, speaking only on condition of anonymity.
President Trump’s lawyers said Saturday they feared Veselnitskaya’s meeting at Trump Tower may have been part of a broader election opposition effort to smear the Republican by creating the impression he and his family had extensive ties to Russia as the Kremlin was interfering in the 2016 election.
“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump’s legal team. “Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier. "
"These developments raise serious issues as to exactly who authorized and participated in any effort by Russian Nationals to influence our election in any manner,” Corallo said.
In her affidavit, Veselnitskaya described her path to becoming a successful private attorney in Moscow, starting with working as a Russian government prosecutor in Moscow,
“I have been practicing law since 1998. I am the founder and managing partner of the law ofﬁces of Kamerton Consulting. In 1998, I graduated with distinction from the Moscow State Legal Academy with a degree in jurisprudence,” she wrote. “Upon graduation from the Academy, I started working at the Prosecutor’s Ofﬁce. I worked there for three years, overseeing the legality of statutes that were adopted by legislators of Moscow Oblast. After that I moved into private business.”
She also swore in the affidavit she did not speak English. Trump lawyers said she brought a Russian translator to the June meeting.Veselnitskaya also claimed U.S. government officials so distrusted her that they had her stopped and searched in London on her way back to New York in late 2015.
“I was detained for two hours by Heathrow Airport officials who speciﬁcally targeted me on the basis of the parole number that the United States Government had assigned to me. During this detention I was unjustifiably subjected to a strip search, for no apparent reason. I should not be subjected to such humiliation when I have been promised entry into the United States to defend against the scandalous accusations in this lawsuit on behalf of my clients.”