Nothing about the investigation and inquiries into President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russian government has been straightforward. The thin, if not positively ethereal, trail of evidence has often led back to shady goings-on within the administration of former President Barack Obama. The latest reincarnation of this story drags another new figure into the spotlight. Few questions are being asked, however, about this obscure, if well-connected, Russian lawyer or her true motives for approaching then candidate Trump’s campaign. So who exactly is Natalia Veselnitskaya?
Donald Trump’s son appears to have shown very poor judgment in agreeing to meet with the lawyer during the 2016 presidential election contest. To compound his error, Trump Jr. failed to reveal any details of this meeting while his father battled accusations of having colluded with the Russian government to get elected.
The establishment media, thrilled to have seemingly breathed life back into the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory, is focusing on a string of email communications between Trump Jr. and a man who arranged his meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya. A first look at the email chain suggests that Trump Jr. was eager to meet with this supposed intermediary from the Kremlin, who would furnish him with incriminating information about Hillary Clinton’s dealings with the Russians.
There are a few things that simply do not, yet, add up. Did the Russian lawyer, Veselnitskaya, simply materialize out of nowhere? Or was she a lobbyist, well-known in Washington circles long before the 2016 election? Did she really meet with Trump Jr. as a representative of the Russian government? What, if any, damaging information about Clinton did she possess and was it her intention to relay this information to Trump to scuttle the Clinton presidential bid?
Natalia Veselnitskaya represents the interests of certain Russian businessmen in the United States. In 2016, according to Business Insider, she was working on behalf of Denis Katsyv, owner of Prevezion Holdings, a Russian investment company. Prevezion was allegedly involved in a money-laundering scheme devised to funnel some $230 million in fraudulent tax rebates to Russian government officials. Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky exposed the scheme. Subsequently, he was arrested and died – under mysterious circumstances – in a Moscow prison. The Russian government denies any connection with Natalia Veselnitskaya, and it would seem unlikely that, were it planning to pass sensitive information to the Trump campaign, it would choose this lawyer as its intermediary, given her connection to a case involving government corruption.
Be that as it may, Trump Jr. appears to have believed that he was to meet with an emissary of the Kremlin and would obtain information that might help his father win the White House. Such information, generally known as “opposition research,” is often sought out by political candidates to damage their opponents. It should not be forgotten that the mysterious ‘Trump dossier’ – publicized with the sole intention of destroying Donald Trump’s campaign – was provided by a former British intelligence officer. Although it is indeed true that two wrongs do not make a right, Donald Trump Jr. was simply engaging in the same game of political strategy that so many others have played. The fact that he thought he might be obtaining opposition research from the Russians bears little relevance; although not our ally, Russia is not at open war with us, so any talk of treason is quite ridiculous. Even more so now, in light of how Barack Obama and many other Democrats mocked anybody who suggested that Russia was a threat to the United States.
Veselnitskaya, then, is probably known to the Russian government – despite their denials – but was unlikely to have been meeting with Trump Jr. on their behalf. In point of fact, it turned out that she was neither meeting with Trump Jr. on behalf of the Kremlin, nor was she in possession of any information about Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskaya, who has now been interviewed by CNN and NBC, has denied representing the Russian government or having been privy to any information relevant to Hillary Clinton. She also stated that the purpose of her meeting with Trump Jr. was to discuss a dispute between Russia and the United States over child adoption. Trump Jr., it seems, may have been misled about what result the meeting might produce.
Based on what is known about Natalia Veselnitskaya, she seems to be a Putin supporter who is well-connected in the United States. Eight days after meeting Trump Jr., she attended a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. She can be on camera seated in the front row, directly behind Michael McFaul, the United States Ambassador to Russia. The purpose of her presence at the hearing is unclear. Her Facebook pages include numerous photographs taken in the United States, including many taken at anti-Trump rallies. Another picture depicts a painting of Vladimir Putin, in military uniform, holding up a baby Donald Trump.
The President’s legal team is now countering much of the speculative accusations surrounding Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya. According to a report in Circa News, spokesman Mark Corallo said: “We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for.” Corallo went on to raise questions about the agenda behind arranging the meeting with Trump Jr.:
Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier.
As Hillary Clinton’s supporters in both the media and the Democratic Party often pointed out, appearances matter little; whether a crime has been committed is what counts. Donald Trump Jr. may have intentionally concealed the very brief and, ultimately, pointless meeting with the Russian lawyer. He may have thought it irrelevant. Certainly, he committed no crime. Since this meeting is now the subject of further inquiry, however, it may prove interesting to delve further into the origin of the very idea of how the meeting happened.