Lawyer Who Met With Trump Jr. Admits: 'I Am an Informant'

Natalia Veselnitskaya's ties to Russian government official go against previous denials
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2018 12:30 PM CDT
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya is shown during an interview with the AP in Moscow on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

(Newser) – The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. has long said she's nothing more than a private attorney who's not linked to the Kremlin—but she's now adding a new self-descriptor. "I am a lawyer, and I am an informant," Natalia Veselnitskaya said in an interview to be aired Friday on NBC News. "Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general." These remarks go against her previous statements of not having ties to the Russian government, and the New York Times notes they reboot speculation about who she was working for when she attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, among others. Newly released emails from a Putin opponent also show Veselnitskaya had a relationship "far closer than she has described" with Yuri Chaika, the Kremlin's prosecutor general.

In a statement last fall to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Veselnitskaya said she works "independently of any governmental bodies" and has "no relationship with Mr. Chaika ... other than those related to my professional functions as a lawyer." But Newsweek points out her "changing story," noting previous ties to Chaika's office that have been unearthed. These new emails—which she confirmed were authentic to NBC—lend further credence to her working closely with Chaika's team. The correspondence documents exchanges between Veselnitskaya and a top Chaika prosecutor, whom she worked with to answer a US Justice Department request on a civil fraud case. "It's completely outrageous," says an ex-assistant US attorney in New York who worked on the case, adding Veselnitskaya's sudden 180 "raises serious questions about obstruction of justice and false statements." (Read more Natalia Veselnitskaya stories.)

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