Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya told RT that the US media manipulated the story about her meeting with Donald Trump Jr, and accused investor Bill Browder – convicted in Russia for tax fraud – of running a disinformation campaign in the US.
The current president’s son and several other members of the Trump presidential campaign met with Veselnitskaya in June 2016, after a music promoter told them she could provide damaging information on the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to emails published by Trump Jr. last month.
Last week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly impanelled a grand jury, which could allow his team to issue subpoenas, compel witnesses to testify and seek indictments. The June 2016 meeting was one of the things brought up in the reports.
“I don’t know what exactly Mr. Mueller is going to investigate regarding my meeting with his president’s son, I can only say what I know – that my meeting was determined by my duties as a lawyer,” Veselnitskaya told RT. “I was defending a Russian citizen in the United States of America. If it turns out that defending a Russian citizen in the US is a crime – in that case, there IS a subject for Mr. Mueller’s investigation.”
Veselnitskaya said she believed that the media was colluding with certain interests to help push the narrative of “Russian collusion” with the Trump campaign.
“You see, it’s interesting how the US media machine works. The New York Times sent me a request with the list of questions on July 8. I was very surprised by these questions – they were focused on my meeting with Mr. Trump,” she said. “At first, I couldn’t even remember when exactly that meeting happened – it was so fleeting and inconsequential.
But here’s what’s interesting – after receiving a quite detailed response from me, The New York Times published only a short part they needed. Today, this article has changed significantly – if you open the first story they had on this matter, and compare it to the original version they published on the 8th – you will see how dramatic the difference is.”
“I understand that the whole story surrounding my meeting with Trump Jr. has been manipulated. By whom? I see only one answer to this question. If you find the motive, you’ll find the explanation,” Veselnitskaya said. “We got so close to the truth behind the Magnitsky Act, who was pushing it –and why – for years. We found out so much about what was happening in Russia between 1996 and 2006, we found out so much about the real cases of embezzlement of Russia’s budget. And considering that, I publicly challenged Mr. Browder, the man behind this story. I think that it’s all orchestrated by him and his team.”
American financier William Browder has emerged as a central figure in the story of Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Trump Jr. The CEO of Hermitage Capital had taken the witness stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the “Russian collusion” and was the key advocate of the Magnitsky Act, which allows the US government to seize assets from a number of Russians accused of human rights abuse, as well as to bar them from entering the United States.
Veselnitskaya has lobbied against the Magnitsky Act in the US, and defended several prominent Russian clients.
Leaked State Department emails have shown that Browder has been collecting information on Veselnitskaya for quite some time before her meeting with Trump, including having photos of her house. Veselnitskaya believes he has a personal motive against her, having failed to get a New York court to make a ruling against one of her clients, the Cyprus-based holding company Prevezon, in a money laundering case dating back to 2013. The case ended in a settlement in May this year, with no admission of guilt by Prevezon.