New indictment against Russian lawyer totally invalidates a favorite Trump defense

A new indictment details just how closely Russian lawyer Nataliya Veselnitskaya, who was at the infamous 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, worked with the Russian prosecutor. CREDIT: AFP CONTRIBUTOR / GETTY

A new indictment unsealed on Tuesday revealed that Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the heart of the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, worked far closer with Russian higher-ups than previously known.

The indictment was filed in the U.S. Southern District of New York and charges Veselnitskaya with obstruction of justice. It detailed how Veselnitskaya worked with the Russian prosecutor’s office to draft language pertaining to a case related to American sanctions on Russia — and how Veselnitskaya then proceeded to lie to American investigators about the collaboration.

The indictment undercut one of the arguments popular among Trump supporters and skeptics of the Russian investigation. Ever since the news broke about Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort in Trump Tower in 2016, critics have pointed to the fact that Veselnitskaya wasn’t an official member of the Kremlin’s inner circle, and therefore wasn’t necessarily important.

But as the filing shows, Veselnitskaya collaborated directly with the Russian prosecutor’s office in another court case at the heart of that infamous meeting in Trump Tower in 2016.

At that meeting — which Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner attended because they all believed they were going to receive “dirt” from Russia on Hillary Clinton — Veselnitskaya discussed the U.S.’s Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned numerous Russian higher-ups for the death of Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky. Following the U.S. issuing Magnitsky-related sanctions, Russia proceeded to ban American adoptions of Russian children.

Magnitsky had been investigating a $230 million embezzling scheme in Russia, which involved a company called Prevezon Holdings. Veselnitskaya would later represent Prevezon.

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