By Brandon Martinez
The Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton as part of the “Russian government’s support” for his father’s election campaign represented the FSB itself in court cases within Russia.
The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. after his father won the Republican nomination for the 2016 US presidential election counted Russia’s FSB security service among her clients for years, Russian court documents seen by Reuters show.
The documents show that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, successfully represented the FSB’s interests in a legal wrangle over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow from 2005 to 2013.
There is no suggestion that Veselnitskaya is an employee of the Russian government or intelligence services, and she has denied having anything to do with the Kremlin.
But the fact she represented the FSB in a court case may raise questions among some US politicians.
The Obama administration last year sanctioned the FSB for what it said was its role in hacking the election, something Russia flatly denies, and Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has raised concerns about why Veselnitskaya was allowed into the US at all.
Veselnitskaya did not reply to emailed Reuters questions about her work for the FSB. The FSB did not respond to a request for comment.
Reuters could not find a record of when and by whom the lawsuit — which dates back to at least 2003 — was first lodged. But appeal documents show that Rosimushchestvo, Russia’s federal government property agency, was involved. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Veselnitskaya and her firm Kamerton Consulting represented “military unit 55002” in the property dispute, the documents show.
A Russian participant in the notorious meeting held by Donald Trump’s son at Trump Tower last year had a business partner who was linked by US authorities to former Soviet intelligence officials.
Irakly Kaveladze was identified this week as the eighth attendee of the June 2016 meeting, which has become central to questions over Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.
Trump’s son, Donald Jr, agreed to the meeting after being told by email that he would be given damaging information about Hillary Clinton, their Democratic opponent, as part of an effort by the Russian government to support Trump. Trump Jr has been called to testify about the meeting to senators in Washington next week.
Kaveladze, a 52-year-old executive at a Moscow-based property firm with ties to Trump, was found in 2000 to have created hundreds of shell companies for a $1.4bn scheme that US investigators suspected was used to launder Russian money through American banks.
According to US officials, Kaveladze’s partner in that operation was Boris Goldstein, a Soviet-born banker whose ties to former KGB officers attracted interest from US investigators after he moved to California in the early 1990s.
“We have obtained information that indicates that this individual has had a close relationship with companies associated with members of the former Soviet Union’s intelligence agency,” the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said of Goldstein in a little-noticed footnote to a report in 2000.
This New York Times article lays out all the names and connections of the Russians who tried to co-opt the Trump campaign to serve Putin’s agenda.
All of this is rather embarrassing for the alt-right who now have egg on their face after vigorously denying that Trump had any Russian links, even though Trump’s own campaign manager Paul Manafort worked directly for the Putin regime as a campaign advisor and lobbyist for Putin’s puppet candidates in eastern Europe. This was from earlier this year:
Paul Manafort allegedly proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, despite claims from the Trump administration that he never worked in the Kremlin’s interests.
In 2005, Mr Manfort proposed a confidential strategy to influence politics, business and news coverage in the US and across Europe amid worsening relations between George W Bush’s government and Russia.
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Mr Manafort reportedly wrote in a memo to Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of the Russian president and aluminium magnate.
He added that the effort “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
Mr Manafort signed a $10m (£8m) annual contract with Mr Deripaska’s firm beginning in 2006, business records obtained by the Associated Press, and the pair reportedly maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.
American diplomatic cables from 2006 that were later released by WikiLeaks described Mr Deripaska’s “favourable relationship” with Mr Putin and said he was “more or less a permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad and…among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis”.