aside Who Is This Russian Lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya

Image result for cartoons on Natalia Veselnitskaya
Natalia Veselnitskaya

If I had even a scintilla of doubt about how involved the republican President Donald Trump has been with cooperating with Russian agents in its meddling with the 2016 US presidential campaign to favor himself, it’s gone.

I can say this with certainty, not because of the Trump family’s actions but because of this Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya who was present in the controversial June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a translator, a Russian American Rinat Akhmetshin, Rob Goldstone, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and possibly, a mystery eight person. There is nothing innocent with her involvement.

While she was in New York for the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting, she was also busy at work, regarding a case lodged against one of her Russian clients.

Originally, it was the US attorney Preet Bharara who was in charge of this Prevezon tax-fraud/ money laundering case. But he was the same attorney that the president summarily fired in March 2017, after having invited him to stay on despite the change in administrations. According to those who have followed this case, she settled for a pittance in May 2017 under favorable terms because the Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not as aggressive in obtaining redress for the USA. WHY?

Image result for photo of 17 democrats sending letter to jeff sessions

Recently, 17 Democrats have sent a letter to Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions, stating: “We write with some concern that the two events may be connected — and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts.” They are inquiring if the Russian lawyer had any role in the settlement talks, whether Sessions — who’d been a campaign adviser to Trump — knew of the earlier contact, whether any Trump administration officials had contacted the Justice Department about the case. and they also asked for documents explaining the abrupt decision to settle.

As per a linked-In 5/17/17 report, by Brian E. Frydenborg, “THE TRIAL was set to begin in three days, a mammoth trial a decade in the making, one of international intrigue, massive money laundering, the biggest tax fraud in Russian history, posh Manhattan real estate, powerful Russians with connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the murder two people and attempted murder a third, each victim gathering evidence against the Russians. But, instead, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York submitted a letter on May 12th, 2017, to the presiding judge, William H. Pauley, III, stating that the government had reached a settlement with the defendants, after his predecessor, Preet Bharara, had spent three-and-a-half years building his case.”

Image result for cartoons on Natalia VeselnitskayaHere is the rest of the story about Natalia Veselnitskaya…

On July 15, 2017,  Julia Ioffe of the Atlantic penned the following report, “The Russian Attorney at the Center of the Trump Jr. Scandal.”

Excerpts:

“Natalia Veselnitskaya has a tendency to appear from out of nowhere and become the center of attention. Before a now-infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower last summer—one that also involved a former Soviet counterintelligence officer and current American citizen and D.C. lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin—Veselnitskaya was a relatively unknown figure, even in Moscow. When her name did find its way into the international news, it was because of her spirited defense of some of Russia’s least defensible actions.”

Image result for Denis Katsyv
Preet Bharara

“She’s like tank,” says her friend, the Russian-born film director Andrei Nekrasov. “Maybe she overstepped some bounds when she was there (in New York last June). But she felt she could do something on behalf of Russia. That’s the kind of person she is.”

“And it was evidently this sense of patriotism that took her from obscure origins as a regional prosecutor in Russia to Trump Tower last summer (June 2016)—and from there to the center of a scandal engulfing the American president.” 

Image: Rinat Akhmetshin
Rinat Akhmetshin at the Newseum screening of the documentary on Sergei Magnitsky in June 2016. Mike Eckel / RFE/RL

“Veselnitskaya, 42, once served as a prosecutor in the Moscow region, an area that encompasses the vast Moscow suburbs, military towns, and dacha communities. The region is both rich and rife with corruption and organized crime. It is this relatively rough and provincial background that makes Russian observers skeptical about Veselnitskaya’s sudden entrée into the distant scandals of Washington. “Instead of the highest [Russian] officials, spies, and the famous diplomat (Sergei) Kislyak, we now get a Moscow region mover and shaker with a reputation for as a ‘fixer,’ who fits into the scandals at the local, regional level, but seems absurd as part of the world of geopolitics,” writes the Russian journalist Oleg Kashin.”

“Few people in Moscow had heard of Veselnitskaya until she burst onto the pages of The New York Times this week. Those who had, though, spoke of her fearsome reputation. “She was probably the most aggressive person I’ve ever encountered in all my conflicts with Russians,” says Bill Browder, a former investor in Russia who has been fighting Veselnitskaya in court for four years. “She is vindictive and ruthless and unrelenting.”“The Moscow region was a good place for a young lawyer to sharpen her teeth. She became close to both the powerful governor of the region, Boris Gromov, as well as to the family of Yury Chaika, then the Russian justice minister and now the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation. (He seems to be the person mistakenly referred to as “the Crown prosecutor of Russia” in the emails Trump Jr. released this week.)”She told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that she knew Chaika personally.”
“It was also during this time that Veselnitskaya became close to the family that would bring her to New York and, ultimately, to Trump Tower.””In 2002, Pyotr Katsyv, a powerful local businessman and later the region’s transportation minister, and his son Denis had been accused of extorting land from a local business owner, who then turned to a man with alleged mafia connections for help, according to an investigation in the liberal Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. As the Katsyvs’ lawyer, Veselnitskaya got the reputed mobster sent to jail, and secured international arrest warrants for the business owner and his family.”

Image result for Denis Katsyv
Denis Kasiev in Germany

“When Denis Katsyv was sued in New York on accusations of money laundering in 2013, Veselnitskaya again served as his counsel. But the case had implications bigger than the $14 million Katsyv was accused of stealing from Bill Browder. In his lawsuit, Browder alleged that Katsyv had used New York real estate to launder the money as part of a scheme uncovered by the lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison under mysterious circumstances in 2009. People familiar with the Katsyv case say that Katsyv, like nearly all wealthy Russians, was simply getting his own money out of Russia,” using “established channels,” and that the $14 million at issue was not part of the $230-million fraud Magnitsky had uncovered.”

Magnitsky of Hermitage Capital Management
SERGEI MAGNITSKY

“The case was settled in May and Katsyv’s company did not admit fault. But in the four years of fighting the case, Katsyv and Veselnitskaya had decided to go after Browder, and his efforts to punish Russian officials for Magnitsky’s death. Magnitsky had been denied medical attention in jail despite his worsening gall stones pancreatitis, and appeared to have died a violent death. Browder, who had been his client, sought revenge and got it with the passage of the 2012 Magnitsky Act. The law froze the U.S. assets of and banned entry to a list that eventually had two dozen Russian officials allegedly involved in Magnitsky’s death. It enraged the Kremlin, which retaliated with a law banning American adoptions of Russian children, and by launching a massive lobbying effort to get the bill repealed.”

“Katsyv began to fund lobbying efforts to try to have the act repealed, and to keep an expanded version of the law, the Global Magnitsky Act, from getting passed. (Congress passed the measure last December.) Veselnitskaya became the representative of a brand-new Russian NGO, registered in Delaware in February 2016, called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, dedicated “to help restart American adoption of Russian children.”

Image result for PHOTO OF BILL BROWDER
BILL BROWDER

“Katsyv also employed Akhmetshin, the former counterintelligence officer who attended the Trump Tower meeting. Akhmetshin, now an American citizen, reportedly briefed congressional staffers, telling them “‘it was a shame that this bill has made it so Russian orphans cannot be adopted by Americans.” Last summer, shortly before the Trump Tower meeting, Nekrasov, the Russian director, released a film that questioned Browder’s version of Magnitsky’s story. It was supposed to have its premiere on the floor of the European Parliament, but at the last moment, Browder got the showing canceled.”

“Veselnitskaya seized the mantle, organizing showings of the film in New York and Washington, as well as in Moscow, where Nikita Mikhalkov, the Kremlin’s favorite film director and Putin advocate, introduced the film.” 

“When Veselnitskaya found herself meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, she had been in New York to deal with the Katsyv case and the Magnitsky Act. It was this, she claims, that she wanted to discuss with Trump Jr., who by his own account was disappointed that she hadn’t come bearing kompromat on Hillary Clinton.”
Nour Obeidallah, 19, of New York, New York, displays her interactive protest sign.
WOMEN’S MARCH

On a later trip to New York, in January 2017, she managed to catch both Donald Trump’s inauguration and the national women’s march. She didn’t like what she saw. “‘My body, my choice’ is all about abortion, homosexuality, illegal migration and two presidents,” she wrote on her Facebook page along with a dozen photographs taken from a window above Fifth Avenue… all orchestrated by [Senate Minority leader Chuck] Schumer.”

“Until she became a subject of intense speculation in the American and Russian press, her Facebook page was decorated with the Russian flag and crest—it has since changed to a meditative quote from Aristotle—and it reflects the politics of both a dedicated lawyer and an ardent Russian patriot. But many of her posts are dedicated to publicly trashing Browder. She frames their legal battle over $14 million in grand geopolitical terms. When the New York judge handed her team a victory in a procedural hearing in 2014, she wrote a long post titled “1:0 Russia.” When the case settled in May and more than half of Katsyv’s money was unfrozen, Veselnitskaya wrote, “For the first time, the USA has acknowledged that the Russians are right.”

Demonstrators attempt to get a better view of the event.

“She floats reports of rumors that Trump was considering appointing Texas Senator Cruz to the post of attorney general. She praises the Trump State Department for stopping a money transfer to the Palestinian Authority (but what she believes is Hamas) that “Obama and Kerry … tried to push through in their last hours in power.” She recirculates American far-right conspiracy theories that the Women’s March in Washington was organized by a member of Hamas. She concluded, in English, that “liberalism is a fucking mental disorder.” She assailed the American press for their “infantilism” and “complete lack of understanding of what’s going on in the masses.”

“I don’t know why it always happens like this,” she replied to a friend in a post about the women’s march. “Every time I’m here, something insane happens.”
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5 comments

  1. Great Piece. Digging into these relationships and the history of these personalities is really essential in understanding the complex web of interconnected oligarchs with our elected officials. I know that some of those on the right are saying this is a “conspiracy theory” and that it’s hard to draw a Direct connection between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin…I’d say, if you’re willing to do the critical thinking, you can…also: Intelligence Professionals (if they are good…speaking as a former intelligence professional) rarely make provide you a breadcrumb trail back to themselves…unless their level of spycraft is at the level of incompetence Donald Trump Jr. has since displayed.

    • Dear Dan S.,

      You have to know the players involved.The well connected Russian lawyer is well connected to folks close to the Kremlin, the Russian lobbyist/ fixer is well known for his ability to get sensitivity info on targets. This was no innocent event.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Precisely…generally speaking (very generally speaking), there are a few key actors in the world where one automatically should be skeptical; with whom no interaction is purely innocent. Surprise: Russia is one of those entities.

        Cheers!

        • Dear Dan S.

          This is true especially in this case. She is so well connected, and important enough that she would be bothered with an unimportant, uneventful meeting where nothing happened.

          Hugs, Gronda

  2. Gronda, there is a disturbing consistency by far too many who touched the Trump campaign, when you give them the benefit of doubt, they disappoint you. This phrase was used to describe the boss, but it seems to apply to a lot of Trump folks. Junior is about as bad as his father in untruthfulness. Keith

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