The Slatest

Lawyer Who Met With Trump Jr. Says She Is an Informant for the Russian Government

Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during an interview.
Who’s got two thumbs and promised the Trump campaign “dirt” on Hillary Clinton?
Yurky Martyanov/AFP/Getty Images

The lawyer who set up the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and several Russian individuals has admitted that she works closely with Vladimir Putin’s government, the New York Times reports:

Ms. Veselnitskaya also appears to have recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties. During an interview to be broadcast Friday by NBC News, she acknowledged that she was not merely a private lawyer but a source of information for a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general.

“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she said. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”

(It’s not clear, incidentally, why the Times is reporting NBC’s scoop.)

Chaika is a key law-enforcement figure in Russia, which means practically that he is (reportedly) involved in embezzlement and the distribution of propaganda. Chaika is specifically one of the leaders of Russia’s effort to posthumously smear Sergei Magnitsky, the whistleblowing lawyer whose death in custody triggered the passage of sanctions laws in the U.S. and elsewhere that target Russian money laundering. (Alleged involvement in money laundering seems to have been the common link between the various Russians who attended the Trump Tower meeting.)

Veselnitskaya’s admission appears to have been provoked by the release of emails that show her collaborating with Chaika’s office on its response to the U.S. government’s recently settled suit against a company called Prevezon that was connected to Magnitsky’s case. (Veselnitskaya represented Prevezon.) The emails were released by an organization created by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled Putin rival who lives in Switzerland; Khodorkovsky told the Times they were leaked to his group anonymously.