Natalia Veselnitskaya sat down with a Sputnik correspondent to talk about why she met with the son of the then presidential candidate.
FBI agents have searched the home of President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul J. Manafort, one of the participants in the meeting with Donald Trump's son. The Washington Post wrote that the unannounced raid was conducted as part of Mueller's Russia probe. It was reported earlier that Mueller was convening a grand jury. What do you think about this turn of events and do you have reason to worry?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: First, who said that the raid had anything to do with my meeting? To believe the media, Special Counsel Mueller is looking into Mr. Manafort's financial dealings. He is also investigating alleged interference in the US election. That is his job. I have not heard about any reports concerning Mueller's team that connect these actions to my meeting with the son of the man who wasn't even the only Republican candidate at that time.
I am absolutely convinced that all those who are escalating and supporting the paranoid ravings about "the conspiracy" in Trump Tower are in for deep disappointment.
This completely goes against the nature of a grand jury. As far as I can tell, attorneys and investigators are being courted by those who are interested in escalating the conflict with Russia. We heard in Congress such experts on Russia as Michael McFaul (US ambassador to Russia in 2012-2014, formerly President Barack Obama's chief adviser on Russia) and William Browder (financier and founder of Hermitage Capital Management, sentenced in Russia to nine years in absentia for tax evasion — editor's note). I think such manipulators and architects of the Cold War should be subjected to special inquiries.
You said before that apart from Donald Trump Jr. the meeting was attended by Manafort and Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner but you were not even introduced to them. You also said that Manafort did not display any interest in the meeting and was busy with his own work. Why is there so much interest in his participation in this meeting?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: I think it's just because he occupied a certain position in Donald Trump's team when he attended the meeting. But I don't remember his name being mentioned at all, and certainly not his position. For me he remained a stranger sitting there distractedly, I have nothing else to add. My meeting had nothing to do with the election.
What did you expect from the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.?
This was part of my job representing the interests of Russian businessman Denis Katsyva (the owner of Prevezon Holdings who was suspected by the US Justice Department of buying his US assets with money stolen from the Russian budget — editor's note). His case was mishandled owing to Browder's false allegations.
Not a single US media outlet wants to tell the real story. But the American people have the right to know the truth because this is their matter, not Russia's.
The first amendment to the US Constitution is about freedom of speech and nobody has the right to abuse it or forget a different word: what is happening in the mainstream US press is not even censorship but genocide. Importantly, those American journalists or politicians who begin to doubt the official version are subjected to incredible pressure themselves.
There are quite a few accounts of the motivation behind your meeting with Trump Jr. Which one do you consider correct?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: Only the one that I'm aware of and which I originally discussed in detail in response to a request by The New York Times, and then in an interview with NBC. However, while anyone can watch my interview with NBC, The New York Times did not release my full answer.
The NYT preferred not to disclose what it learned from me. I cannot say that they have been bought off, I'm sure they haven't. However, they were led astray by their hatred for their own president, plain and simple. The meeting with Trump had nothing to do with sharing dirt on Clinton. In any case, I was not aware that I was expected to do so. I never told anyone that I have any dirt on Clinton.
Even if something like that might exist hypothetically, it would be ridiculous to assume that such information could be passed using a lawyer who is openly in charge of the case and opposes a number of acts passed by Congress.
Browder was the key witness for the US government in the case against my client. It was Browder who filed a statement against him with the New York City attorney's office in December 2012.
So, I began to study in chronological order everything that was related to this story. I do not have access to media resources like Browder with his spin doctors, websites, books, videos, politicians and journalists, who are ready to applaud his "bravery." I studied all this using the documents that I found in the public domain. By the way, certain American publications are also trying to figure out what happened in their investigative materials.
I found out that Magnitsky never was a lawyer. He never filed any petitions about any crimes, and Browder never had any companies used to withdraw budget funds stolen from him. In other words, money from our budget came to him, but to deflect suspicion, they staged an embezzlement. As we say, "The one who shouts ‘catch the thief' the loudest, is the thief."
But a day will come when this will not help. After the death of one of the employees of the firm which worked for Browder — I'm referring to Sergei Magnitsky — this legend was supplemented by its most powerful chapter: allegedly, Magnitsky was a whistle-blower on this theft of companies, for which he was arrested and killed. This is manipulation at its best. I brought this information to the American lawyers. After studying it, they made it available to the court and prosecutors. However, I also realized that before the congressmen start an investigation into the legality of the lobbying for the Magnitsky Act and the real history of Magnitsky and Browder, we will have to refute the country's legislative act before the people of the United States in the upcoming jury trial. Which was something we didn't want to do for ethical reasons. After all, we could easily prove how their elected officials work and what it all leads to.
So, I thought it was right to remove politics from my client's case and to bring the information that had become known to me to Congress.
Did you discuss repealing the Magnitsky Act at the meeting?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: Of course not. It would be utopian to push for repealing it. Legislative mechanisms for repairing the damage this law has done must be decided by members of the US Congress and our legislators. The law was mentioned at the meeting as a product lobbied using the money possibly stolen from our country and laundered in the United States.
Who was this Magnitsky Act adopted for? Look at the names on Magnitsky lists — judges, prosecutors and investigators who performed their work, mostly on Browder's cases, the same kind of work done by police, the FBI and US judges.
If we look at the events that preceded the success of his lobbying activities in Congress, we can clearly see that only after he began to accuse the political leadership of our country of a "contract killing of investigative lawyer Magnitsky" that his story caught the eye of the US political leadership. I'm not sure how talented Browder is as a financier, but his team excels at "packaging stories well."
After Magnitsky's death, Browder turned an accountant accused of complicity with him in a fraud worth millions into an "investigative lawyer" who was thrown behind bars for his "revelations." However, Browder's problem is that there is not a single document or piece of evidence that this story is even 10 percent true. The lack of facts was covered up with loud words and heartrending stories. Sergei Magnitsky's mother, son, and wife were put out in front. He took people's grief, and used it to make a "political victim" out of himself.
Did you talk with Trump Jr. about Browder?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: Not just about Browder. I spoke about the Magnitsky Act that forces Russia to bear the weight of a monstrous lie. It started leading to the disruption of economic, social and even human ties between our countries, up to and including the adoption ban. Studying the case of my client I saw how holes in the evidence were being patched over with universal human values and I considered it my duty to tell the public that I found during the years of my own investigation.
But the name of your client is not on the Magnitsky Act lists…
Natalia Veselnitskaya: You are absolutely right — it has never been there and his assets have not been seized under this US act. However, this case was announced as the first one under the Magnitsky Act on the day the lawsuit was filed and before my client was informed about this.
Although later the US government represented by the attorney general emphasized throughout the case that there were no links between my client and the fraud that was discovered by Magnitsky according to Browder.But when US District Judge William Pauley removed from evidence the whole Magnitsky Act story last May the US government refused to refer to this act under the weight of our arguments and the case was closed.
On what terms?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: The case ended with the signing of an agreement. The defendants must pay $5.8 million but this is not confiscation or liability. The US government fully renounced its claims and suspicions. The settlement states that my client is innocent and clears him of involvement in the events described in the Magnitsky Act and the lawsuit. The deal was approved by Judge Pauley on May 15 but the attorney general's office in the US has not taken the money.
There is no explanation of why they haven't done this. Regrettably, I can again only point to Browder for whom this arrangement was not only a surprise but also a heavy blow. I think Browder is exerting significant pressure on the attorney general's office to tear up the deal to give him another chance to take his story to a US court.
Some US media link you with Seth Rich, a member of the Democratic Party who supposedly gave to WikiLeaks 53,000 email messages and 17,000 documents of the party leadership. He was murdered in July 2016. Did you know him?
Natalia Veselnitskaya: I never heard of this man or saw him. I read about him only two weeks ago and became very worried. If Rich was a whistle-blower, in the Hollywood script, the discovered agent is killed and the "shadow cast by the murder" falls on the people whose interests he worked to advance. This is how the story about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was born. This is about exploiting a person's death. A report was published from which it follows that there was no "Russian hack" of the DNC. This was an internal leak of information from the Democrats. I cannot but be worried by such things because it transpired that Browder shared information about me with congressional staff and they sent it to the Department of State.
I was stunned to see a photo of my house on some Twitter website that I didn't know. This photo was attached to Kyle Parker's letter to a certain Robert Otto. They got it from Browder. Later on I read in the press that Otto heads the analytical division on Russia in the Department of State, while Kyle Parker is an aide to Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. This man was yelling at the top of his voice when Nekrasov's documentary was shown in Washington. He was trying to ruin the show.
The caption of the photo read "The home of Veselnitskaya." How this correspondence became public, I don't know, but I can definitely recognize a picture of my house. When I saw it, I started to really worry, as my personal safety was at stake.
But secrets will out. It feels like the sixth season of House of Cards came six months early.