Natalia Veselnitskaya’s Magnitsky Lobbying

In its enforcement of the Magnitsky Act, the US accused Prevezon Holdings, and its owner Denis Katsyv, of purchasing real estate using laundered funds out of the proceeds of the money stolen from Hermitage Capital Management. Prevezon engaged Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya as part of its legal team to fight the charges. Source

In March 2016, US Attorney Preet Bharara refused a request to temporarily waive immigration requirements and admit Veselnitskaya into the US to participate in Prevezon and Katsyv’s defense. However, in June 2016, the US State Department granted Veselnitskaya a visa allowing her entry. Source

Veselnitskaya had hired Rinat Akhmetshin to assist her lobbying efforts for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act. Source

On June 9, 2016, Veselnitskaya was among the parties who met with Trump campaign members at Trump Tower to discuss Russia’s offer to help the Trump campaign by delivering damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Source Trump, Jr. and Veselnitskaya initially claimed they only met to discuss issues relating to adoptions. However, it was later revealed that Veselnitskaya in fact brought a memo that she believed contained information damaging to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. This memo accused an American firm, Ziff Brothers Investments, of illegally purchasing shares in a Russian company and evading Russian taxes. The memo stated, in part, “According to available information [the] Ziff Brothers financed the two Obama election campaigns, and the American media call them ‘the main sponsor of the Democrats’… It cannot be ruled out that they also financed Hillary Clinton campaign.” Thus, the memo alleged that the Clinton campaign was funded with tainted stolen money. Source1 Source2

Furthermore, Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations contained in the memo with Russia’s prosecutor general Yuri Chaika in the months before the meeting, and the memo was similar to another memo Chaika’s office had just previously given to Dana Rohrabacher, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim. Source

Veselnitskaya would later claim that Trump Jr. hinted at a quid-pro-quo, in that, during their discussion of the delivery of intelligence from Russia to the Trump campaign, Trump Jr. suggested that, if Trump came to power, they would consider lifting sanctions against Russia. Source

Since Veselnitskaya was and likely still is acting as an agent of the Russian government, her claims about Trump Jr.’s offer lack any credibility.

On June 13, 2016, only days after her June 9 meeting with Trump campaign members at Trump Tower, Veselnitskaya had a front-row seat at a US House Foreign Relations Committee hearing in D.C. that discussed sanctions and other aspects of US-Russia relations.

Natalia Veselnitskaya at House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing
Natalia Veselnitskaya at House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on US policy toward Russia, June 13, 2016

During this hearing, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher presented a litany of pro-Kremlin talking points including a set of anti-Magnitsky Act arguments he had received from Moscow. Source That evening, following the screening of an anti-Magnitsky Act film, Veselnitskaya attended a dinner with about 20 guests including Rinat Akhmetshin and Dana Rohrabacher. Source1 Source2

On June 14, 2016, Veselnitskaya filed a report with US Congress, outlining the allegations in the anti-Magnitsky Act movie. Source She had been planning to attend a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee meeting on this date with Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher had received briefings against Browder and Magnitsky from Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office (the same source as the intelligence offered to Trump Jr. on June 3), and scheduled the meeting to air the movie in Congress and to allow Veselnitskaya and the movie’s director, Nekrasov, to present the Kremlin view. The committee chairman Ed Royce cancelled the meeting as potentially embarrassing for the Republican Party, instead scheduling a full committee hearing on Russia relations (held June 13). Source