A Russian lawyer at the heart of a 2016 meeting with Trump campaign staffers was indicted by U.S. prosecutors in New York on Tuesday on charges of obstruction of justice in connection with a case unrelated to the Russia election interference investigation.
The indictment, however, alleges that Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and other senior campaign members, had close ties to the Russian government.
Veselnitskaya was charged with hiding her role in drafting a declaration that purportedly exonerated her client, Russian firm Prevezon Holdings.
In the Prevezon case, U.S. prosecutors sought to prove that the company had laundered the proceeds of a $230 million tax fraud scheme involving corrupt Russian officials. The scheme was uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian legal adviser allegedly beaten to death in prison in 2009 after accusing Kremlin officials of tax fraud.
Veselnitskaya’s declaration “presented supposed investigative findings by the Russian government” where in fact she had drafted those findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor, prosecutors said.
“Fabricating evidence – submitting false and deceptive declarations to a federal judge – in an attempt to affect the outcome of pending litigation not only undermines the integrity of the judicial process, but it threatens the ability of our courts and our Government to ensure that justice is done,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in June 2016 after allegedly promising compromising information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the circumstances leading up to the meeting and subsequent statements made by Trump and his son about the meeting.
The Prevezon case was settled in 2017.