“Fearsome Moscow Insider” or “Low-Level” Lawyer.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the woman at the center of the latest Russia-linked scandal to hit Donald Trump’s presidency, has been described as both in the headlines.
Veselnitskaya herself has adamantly claimed that she knows nobody influential in the government and is a simple defense lawyer. Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, stated that the Kremlin had no links to Natalia Veselnitskaya, and likened the media storm to a soap opera that had run too long. Donald Trump Jr. himself Donald Trump Jr. said she spent much of the time attacking American sanctions. Natalia Veselnitskaya is no Kremlin power broker, having spent most of her career working on business disputes in the courtrooms of the Moscow region. Nevertheless, in recent years she had taken on a high-profile case that aligned with Kremlin objectives and was followed closely by top officials. A source who knows Natalia Veselnitskaya also stated that she has a long-standing personal connection with Yuri Chaika, Russia’s powerful prosecutor-general.
Chaika’s name is particularly relevant, because it seems likely that Rob Goldstone, the publicist who emailed Donald Trump Jr suggesting he meet with the Russian lawyer, was referring to Chaika as the potential source of the information on Clinton. According to the email chain that Trump Jr himself published on Twitter, Rob Goldstone said he was making the proposition after a Russian businessman, Aras Agalarov, had met “Russia’s crown prosecutor” and received information about Hillary Clinton. Goldstone wanted Trump Jr to speak with Agalarov’s son Emin – a businessman and pop singer – to help set up the meeting.
Goldstone referred to Natalia Veselnitskaya as an “attorney”.
There is no such position as “crown prosecutor” in Russia, but Chaika is the most powerful prosecutor. After opposition politician Alexei Navalny made explosive corruption allegations against Chaika and his family in 2015, Agalarov paid to place a column in the business daily Kommersant in defence of Chaika, suggesting the two may also have a relationship.
Goldstone told the Wall Street Journal his reference to the “crown prosecutor” meant Natalia Veselnitskaya, which seems unlikely as she is a defense lawyer and has never been a prosecutor. In the same exchange Goldstone referred to her as an “attorney”.
In written comments early on Wednesday, Natalia Veselnitskaya insisted the meeting was purely about the Magnitsky Act, which placed US sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights abuses – and was in turn countered by Moscow with a ban on US adoptions of Russian children. Two people who know Natalia Veselnitskaya said she was extremely passionate about the Magnitsky case and was on a mission to get the sanctions lifted, using as many sources and contacts as she could. She may have seen the Trump campaign as a good opportunity to be heard by a potentially sympathetic ear in the US, and tried to call in a favor with Chaika. Veselnitskaya may have asked Chaika for an introduction to the Trump camp via Agalarov, who was known to be close to the Trumps.
We still can’t find the hard evidence that proves collusion or innocence, but it seems Lame-Stream media has become Natalia Veselnitskaya’s judge, jury, and executioner. Reporting on the “lawyer” Natalia Veselnitskaya, and not her alleged release of incriminating information on Clinton is where her acquittal lies. Being guilty until proven innocent must be a tough place to be for a defense attorney.