Russian from Trump Tower meet: ‘I am a lawyer, and I am an informant’
WASHINGTON (CIRCA) – A Russian lawyer who met Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower during the 2016 White House race appears closer to the Kremlin than she has previously said.
“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” Natalia Veselnitskaya said during an interview with NBC News to air Friday, according to The New York Times.
“Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general,” she added.
Veselnitskaya has long insisted she was a private lawyer unaligned with Russia’s government during the 2016 presidential contest.
The attorney admitted during Friday’s interview, however, that she is also a source of information for Yuri Y. Chaika, a top Kremlin official and Russia’s prosecutor general.
Newly released emails show that in at least one instance in 2014, Veselnitskaya worked closely with Russia’s chief legal office.
Veselnitskaya worked with Chaika’s office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.
“Many things included here are from my documents, my personal documents,” she told NBC News’s Richard Engel while discussing the emails.
Veselnitskaya told Russian news agency Interfax Wednesday that her email accounts had been hacked and that she would report it to Russian authorities.
The previously unknown details raise new questions about who Veselnitskaya was representing during a June 2016 huddle at Trump Tower in New York City.
Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr., then-Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner and others at the time.
The huddle was organized after an intermediary promised that Veselnitskaya would deliver damaging documents about Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
Donald Trump Jr. is President Trump’s son, while Kushner is his son-in-law and Manafort is his former campaign manager.
Veselnitskaya has previously asserted she met the group in a private capacity unrelated to Russia’s government.
“I operate independently of any government bodies,” she wrote in a November email to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I have no relationship with Mr. Chaika, his representatives, and his institutions other than those related to my professional functions as a lawyer.”
The Trump Tower meeting is now one aspect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 race.
Mueller’s probe includes potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s election bid, a charge the president has fiercely denied.