New developments in the Russian probe now show that the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya before and after that infamous meeting she had last year with President Trump’s son, Don Jr., according to Fox News.
The revelation reveals how closely tied Fusion GPS was to Russian interests, at a time when it was financing research to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump.
The opposition research firm has been under the microscope after litigation revealed that the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign funded the now-debunked dossier, which lodged outrageous allegations against the president. Congressional Republicans are now wondering whether that politically financed research contributed to the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – making Fusion’s 2016 contacts with Russian interests even more relevant.
During the same time that the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya occurred, bank records show Fusion GPS was paid by a law firm for work on behalf of a Kremlin-linked oligarch while paying former British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on Trump through his Russian contacts.
We’re now finding out that hours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, a confidential source told Fox News. Court records reviewed by FOX, email correspondence and published reports corroborate that story. The source said they also were together after the Trump Tower meeting.
Simpson and Fusion GPS were hired by Baker Hostetler, which represented Russian firm Prevezon through Veselnitskaya.
Veselnitskaya has said she sought the Trump Tower meeting in order to lobby the candidate’s team against Russian sanctions, but her initial approach included an offer of compromising information on candidate Clinton.
NBC News first reported that Veselnitskaya and Simpson were both at a hearing centered around another Fusion client, Russian oligarch Denis Katsyv. His company, Prevezon Holdings, was sanctioned against doing business in the U.S. for its alleged role in laundering more than $230 million.
The wrongdoing had been uncovered by Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was beaten to death in a Russian prison in 2009 after being arrested for probing Prevezon and other companies with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In December 2012, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was passed into U.S. law, freezing Russian assets and banning visas for sanctioned individuals. Fusion’s Simpson is believed to have been working with Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer turned Russian-American lobbyist, to overturn the sanctions.
Akhmetshin also attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, along with about a half-dozen others including Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, publicist Rob Goldstone, Natalia’s Russian translator Anatoli Samochornov and Ike Kaveladze from a Russian-American real estate agency.
“What we are finding out is that there is a lot of Russian influence in Washington, and a lot of money flowing in to influence our political process in Washington,” Marc Thiessen, a Washington Post columnist and former Bush administration official, said. “It’s going into Hillary Clinton. It’s going to Fusion GPS. It’s going into a lobbying campaign up on Capitol Hill against Magnitsky.”
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