U.S. prosecutor says Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya concealed that she helped draft investigative findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor and is now being charged with one count of obstruction of justice. The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan's declaration apparently shows a deeper connection between Veselnitskaya and Russia than was previously made public.
Veselnitskaya became a central figure in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia probe when it was revealed that in June 2016, she met with Donald Trump Jr., after an intermediary emailed him that she had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr., had high hopes going into the meeting, according to a Senate interview and his own emails. Ahead of it, music promoter Rob Goldstone sent an email to Trump Jr. saying, “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary (Clinton) and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” In agreeing to the meeting, the younger Trump told Goldstone, ”(I)f it’s what you say I love it.”
Trump Jr. and other campaign figures, including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, attended the meeting with high expectations. At the center of the session: Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others with Russia connections.
It is illegal for a campaign to accept help from a foreign person or government. The U.S. intelligence community, members of Congress in both parties and even Trump have acknowledged that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is probing whether anyone connected with the president’s campaign conspired with Russia to tip the election in Trump’s favor. He’s also looking at whether Trump’s tweets, statements and other actions amount to an attempt to obstruct the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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