Lawyer at the heart of Trump Russia probe is talking

Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin met with Donald Trump’s son and top aides last year, when his campaign colluded with Russian efforts to influence the election.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended a June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort claimed that the president’s son told her that key sanctions against Russia might be lifted in exchange for help in the election.

In a two-and-a-half-hour interview in Moscow, Veselnitskaya said that she would tell the Senate Judiciary Committee and Special Counsel Robert Mueller about collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign if she is asked to testify.

Veselnitskaya told the president’s son she had information that Clinton’s campaign may have received some of almost $1 billion the wealthy Ziff brothers gained from Russian investments that allegedly evaded U.S. taxes.

The Russian lawyer said Donald Trump Jr. asked her for written evidence to show that major Democratic donors had evaded U.S. taxes and that proceeds from those illegal schemes went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Veselnitskaya said she went to the New York meeting to lobby against the so-called Magnitsky law that punishes Russian officials for the murder of a Russian tax accountant who accused the Kremlin of corruption. Rinat Akhmetshin, a former soviet Army counter-intelligence officer was also present.

That law targets Russian officials in retaliation for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a tax accountant who worked for U.S.-born fund manager William Browder, whose Hermitage Capital was once the biggest foreign-portfolio investor in the former Soviet Union country.  

Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after uncovering a tax fraud that diverted $230 million of Russian state funds into the pockets of a handful of civil servants.

The 2012 U.S. law named after him so incensed the Kremlin, officials there banned adoptions from Russia to the U.S. in response.

“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,’’ Trump Jr. said of the 2012 law, she recalled. “I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,” he added, according to her.

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