Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016 on the premise of gathering dirt on Hillary Clinton, was more deeply connected to the Kremlin than previously known, CNBC informed.
The emails appear to show a correspondence between Veselnitskaya and an official in Russia’s state prosecutor’s office coordinating a response to a case brought forward by the U.S. Department of Justice, NBC’s Richard Engel said on MSNBC.
The newly discovered communications between Veselnitskaya and the Russian government indicate that the lawyer held a level of influence within the Kremlin, undercutting her long-held insistence that she was merely a private attorney.
A report from The New York Times, citing NBC News’ interview with Veselnitskaya to be aired Friday, identified her government contact as being Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general.
In the interview, Veselnitskaya confirmed the emails were written by her, the Times reported, saying “many things included here are from my documents, my personal documents.” She also said her email accounts were hacked this year, in an ironic twist.
“I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she reportedly admitted in the NBC interview. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”
This was not the first time Veselnitskaya has spoken about her relationship to Chaika. In a July 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Veselnitskaya said she “personally” knows the prosecutor general.
“I shared information with” Chaika, she told the newspaper, in the course of her investigation into a hedge-fund manager who was a driving force behind the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. sanctions law that locked certain Russians out of their overseas funds, among other punishments.
The Trump campaign members, including Donald Trump Jr. and then-campaign chief Paul Manafort, attended the meeting under the impression that the Russians could provide damaging information on candidate Donald Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton.