Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer Donald Trump, Jr. agreed to meet with to get “opposition research” on Hillary Clinton after his father clinched the Republican nomination for president, has listed Russia’s FSB among her clients, Reuters reported on Friday citing Russian court documents. The FSB, Russia’s successor to the Soviet-era KGB, was formerly headed by Vladimir Putin prior to him becoming president. This report completely goes against Veselnitskaya’s own account of her involvement with the Russian government, in addition to the Kremlin’s.
In an NBC interview following the publication of Donald Trump, Jr.’s emails, Veselnitskaya denied any connection to the Russian government. When read aloud Rob Goldstone’s description of Veselnitskaya as “the Russian government attorney” and “part of Russia and its Government’s support for Mr. Trump, she says in response: “No, I’m certainly flattered by being marked as a government attorney, but I have never worked for the government in the first place.”
As recently as July 12, the Kremlin also denied any connection with Veselnitskaya. Dmitry Peskor, a spokesperson for the Kremlin said, “we have never been in contact with this lawyer and, therefore, we have nothing more to say about it.”
Despite denial from both parties, the Russian court documents show Veselnitskaya has represented the interests of the Russian government in a legal battle over a property for 8 years, between 2005 and 2013. While not officially an employee of the Russian government, working for the government’s best interest for nearly a decade raises questions.
Recent reporting has revealed an additional cast of characters with deep ties to Russia attended the June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, aside from Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Rob Goldstone, a music publicist and the Trump family friend who brokered the meeting was at Trump Tower, as well as a Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmentshin. A Russian translator also attended the meeting.
Both Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort are scheduled to testify on the meeting before the Senate judicatory committee on July 26.