Senate Panel Interviewed Russian Lawyer From Trump Tower Meeting, But Dossier Was The Focus
- The Senate Intelligence Committee recently interviewed a Russian attorney
- Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya attended a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting
- Veselnitskaya was working at the time on a separate legal case with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently interviewed the Russian attorney who attended the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, according to a new report.
Committee investigators spent a majority of the three-hour interview asking the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, about the infamous Steele dossier, The Associated Press reported.
The revelation is something of a surprise because Veselnitskaya has said she was not aware of the dossier until after it was published in January 2017.
Journalist Lee Stranahan reported on April 8 that Veselnitskaya told him that she had been interviewed by Senate investigators a week earlier. The interview took place in Berlin, according to the AP.
The AP did not report details of why Senate investigators quizzed Veselnitskaya about the dossier. Any link between the lawyer and the dossier would have significant implications for the salacious document as well as for the investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and President Donald Trumps campaign.
The dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats, is the primary source for those allegations.
Close followers of the Russia investigation have wondered whether details of the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting somehow filtered their way into the dossier.
Veselnitskaya was working at the time on a separate legal case with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier.
The pair was working for a Russian company called Prevezon to investigate Bill Browder, a London-based banker who has accused Prevezon of money laundering. Browder is the leading force behind the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that blacklists Russian human rights abusers.
The Magnitsky Act was the main topic that Veselnitskaya discussed in the Trump Tower meeting, which was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. She provided the campaign with a short memo containing allegations against Browder.
Simpson has claimed that Veselnitskaya was not aware of his work investigating the Trump campaign. He has also denied knowing that Veselnitskaya visited Trump Tower until that meeting was revealed by The New York Times in a July report. Simpson and Veselnitskaya did meet in a Manhattan courtroom on the morning of the Trump Tower meeting. They also attended a dinner meeting the next day. (RELATED: Revelations From Glenn Simpsons House Testimony)
For her part, Veselnistkaya has denied meeting with Simpson on the day of the Trump Tower meeting or the day after.
“Did you have contact with Glenn Simpson on June 8, 9, or 10, 2016?” reads a question posed to her by the Senate Judiciary Committee in November.
“No, there had been no contacts with him on [sic] specified dates,” she responded. (RELATED: Natalia Veselnitskaya Submitted Inconsistent Testimony About Fusion GPS Founder)
Simpson has acknowledged the timing of the Trump Tower meeting — which occurred 11 days before Steele wrote the first of 17 memos that make up the dossier — is suspicious.
“I mean, thank God I didnt know anything about the Trump Tower meeting, or I would really have some explaining to do,” he told the House Intelligence Committee during a Nov. 14 interview.
The Trump Tower meeting has sparked allegations of collusion because Trump Jr. accepted it after being offered dirt on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist, emailed Trump Jr. on June 3, 2016 saying that a Russian government attorney wanted meet with the campaign to provide damaging information on Clinton.
“If it is what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. replied.
Veselnitskaya showed up to the meeting with Goldstone and several others, including Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist. Akhmetshin, a former Soviet military intelligence officer, has known Simpson since his days as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal.
Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya have both claimed that nothing of substance was discussed in the meeting. The two sides did not meet again, they say. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes. Trump Jr. has said that the meeting was a waste of time.
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