So who exactly is Natalia Veselnitskya, the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr to talk about potentially damaging information involving Hillary Clinton and the Democrats during the last US election?
The lawyer is perhaps more than she seems – less glamorous Russian show pony lawyer and more Russian power player.
Some of the facts about Ms Veselnitskya that you need to know –
1. Legal cred.
She holds solid legal credentials. She began her legal career as a prosecutor in Moscow, developing a reputation as a formidable opponent, using both legal and political connections to gain the outcome she sought. She claims to have won more than 300 cases, some have argued that her success and profile is more through her force of personality and connections than just any ability she holds as a lawyer.
2. Business connection.
She is currently listed as a managing partner in a Moscow law firm called Kamerton Consulting, which she founded in 2003. She says the firm represents “large-state owned and private corporations, as well as clients from the real estate and banking sectors.”
3. Moscow power connections.
She represented the Moscow regional government and the powerful Kaysyv family, including Pyotr Katsyv, the minister of Transportation in Moscow for over a decade. He is now a vice-president of Russian Railways, the country’s larest employer.
4. Manhattan battles.
Former Manhattan prosecutor Preet Bharara encountered Ms Veselnitskaya on several occasions while she defended a Kaysyv family member with money laundering charges, including accusations that she had charged the government almost $1000 a night for a Plaza Hotel room. The laundering claims was settled with a $6 million payment paid without admission of criminal liability.
5. Non profit foundation.
She is founded a nonprofit organization called the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, designed to restoring American adoptions of Russian orphans. She evidently discussed some of these issues with Donald Trump Jnr at the infamous meeting in New York.
6. Anti-sanction activist.
She has become well known for attempting to change international finance and travel sanctions on important Russian business people and others involved iin an alleged $230 million tax fraud that was exposed by Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who subsequently died in a Russian jail following beatings from his Russian captors. Magnitsky’s death lead to the passing of the Magnitsky Act to punish corrupt Russian civilians under the sponsorship of US banker and Sergei Magnitsky’s employer, Bill Browder.
7. Film controversy.
She was behind the organization of a screening of a movie against Sergei Magnitsky which portrays him as an accomplice in corruption and which lead to substantial criticism from Bill Browder.
8. Immigration Issue
‘The Daily Beast’ reported that her legal status in the United States may have expired months before she met with Donald Trump Jr. in New York City, claiming – “Prosecutors granted Veselnitskaya temporary “immigration parole” in late 2015 but it expired in early 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York told The Daily Beast. That raises the question of how Veselnitskaya was able to enter the U.S. in June 2016 when she visited Trump Tower.”
In 2016 she filed an affidavid relating to her immigration difficulties in the United States, which you can read here.