Russian lawyer Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, who in 2016 met with Donald Trump, Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign at Trump Tower, was indicted for obstruction of justice in an unrelated case on Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Veselnitskaya with “seeking to thwart an earlier Justice Department investigation into money laundering that involved an influential Russian businessman and his investment firm.”
The money-laundering case was not directly related to the Trump Tower meeting. But a federal indictment returned in Manhattan seemed to confirm that Ms. Veselnitskaya had deep ties to senior Russian government officials and rekindled questions about whether the Kremlin tried to use her as an intermediary to Donald J. Trump’s campaign.
Veselnitskaya’s current legal dilemma relates to a 2013 civil investigation into Prevezon Holdings Ltd. and its owner, Denis P. Katsyv — clients of the Russian attorney — and their involvement in a plan to launder dirty money via New York real estate purchases, the Times said.
The obstruction of justice charge stems from Veselnitskaya’s alleged cooperation with a Russian prosecutor to mislead the court.
The Justice Department asked the Russian government to assist its investigation, but the Russians refused, responding with a letter that purported to exonerate Russian officials and Prevezon, the indictment said.
The indictment says Ms. Veselnitskaya secretly cooperated with a senior Russian prosecutor in drafting the “intentionally misleading” response, then filed it in federal court in Manhattan.
Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Trump campaign officials, which the lawyer insists did not involve government business, remains a focus of the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Trump Jr. acknowledged email correspondence in 2017 that showed he anticipated receiving information on Hillary Clinton at the meeting that would be detrimental to her presidential campaign.
Though Veselnitskaya maintains she was acting in a private capacity during the meeting, growing evidence calls her statements into dispute.
The indictment unsealed on Tuesday further undermines her story, detailing how a year before the Trump Tower get-together, the American authorities say, she worked hand in glove with Russian officials to derail the money-laundering case.