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Russian lawyer at Trump Tower worked with government, report says

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya spoke, April 22, during an interview with The Associated Press in Moscow, Russia. An organization established by an exiled Russian tycoon says it has obtained emails showing a close connection between government officials and the Russian lawyer who took part in a 2016 meeting with Donald Trump’s son and his then-campaign chairman.

MOSCOW >> An organization established by an exiled Russian tycoon says it has obtained emails showing collaboration between Russian government officials and the lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in 2016 and has denied having connections to the Kremlin.

The emails the Dossier organization said it was sent suggest Natalia Veselnitskaya worked closely with a top official in Russia’s prosecutor-general’s office to fend off a U.S. fraud case against one of her clients.

Veselnitskaya has denied connections to the Russian government since her meeting with then-candidate Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort surfaced during the investigation of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The encounter at Trump Tower in New York took place after Donald Trump Jr. was told the Russian lawyer had potentially incriminating information about Trump’s election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Veselnitskaya is well-connected as a lawyer in Moscow, but the extent and nature of her government ties has been unclear. She could not immediately be reached for comment on the emails today.

Dossier, which provides information about officials and business leaders it considers part of the “Kremlin political group,” said today it had been sent a series of emails from 2014 that show Veselnitskaya set out strategies for responding to a United States request for assistance in a money-laundering case involving her client.

Veselnitskaya was helping to defend the Prevezon Holdings company and its owner, Denis Katsyv. U.S. prosecutors accused Katsyv of laundering proceeds from a $230 million Russian tax fraud scheme by buying real estate in the U.S.

Dossier published screenshots of what it said were emails about the case between Veselnitskaya and Sergei Bochkarev, head of the criminal investigation division of the prosecutor-general’s office. The organization did not reveal if it knew who shared the emails, if they were sent anonymously or if any efforts were made to verify their authenticity.

The Kremlin did not comment on the prosecutor’s cooperation with Veselnitskaya.

Last year, the Justice Department settled its case, with Prevezon paying $6 million in fines while not admitting guilt.

The alleged tax fraud scheme was exposed by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died while jailed in 2009. U.S. lawmakers enacted a law named for him that imposed travel and financial sanctions against Russians believed to be involved in his death.

Donald Trump Jr. has said the June 2016 meeting with Veselnitskaya included discussion of the Magnitsky Act sanctions.

Dossier is an arm of exiled tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a onetime oil billionaire who spent a decade in prison on fraud and tax-evasion convictions that were widely seen as retaliation for his political ambitions and opposition to Putin.

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