Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Donald Trump, Jr., in 2016, said she was in contact with the office of Russia's top prosecutor as she was waging a campaign against a U.S. law, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Though Veselnitskaya said she wasn't working for Russian authorities, she told the Journal she met with them regularly, including Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, a top official appointed by the Kremlin.
Veselnitskaya was working against the Magnitsky Act and hedge-fund manager William Browder, who was a critic of the Kremlin and pushed to get the 2012 law passed. Federal U.S. prosecutors claim Russian officials and others connected to officials participated in fraud against Browder's firm.
"I personally know the general prosecutor," Veselnitskaya said. "In the course of my investigation [about the fund manager], I shared information with him."
Present at last year's meeting in Trump Tower was President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. The meeting has sparked outrage among critics of the president who have claimed collusion between Trump and the Russians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who despises the Magnitsky Act, has suggested Browder is a criminal and denied any wrongdoing in the death of Magnitsky.
"There was a tragedy," Putin said in 2013. "What, in American prisons, no one ever dies or something?"
The Magnitsky Act sanctioned Russians who were accused of defrauding Browder's company out of $230 million. Browder's attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, died while in Russian custody.
U.S. lobbyist Renat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet military serviceman, also attended the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, which had previously not been disclosed by the White House or Trump, Jr.
Veselnitskaya, who says she is a former Moscow regional prosecutor but now works as a private attorney, represents Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-based hotel and real-estate group owned by Russian national Denis Katsyv, whose father is a former Moscow official.
Veselnitskaya said she also represented Russian property developer Aras Agalarov at the time of the meeting with Trump, Jr. Agalarov organized the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 with Trump in Moscow.
A British publicist who worked to set up the meeting presented her to Trump, Jr., as a Russian government lawyer. Veselnitskaya denies the meeting had anything to do with information she might have about 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or that it was coordinated with the Russian government.
"Both during the meeting, while I was talking to Donald Trump, Jr., and in the written materials I prepared, I was trying to tell the story that I myself had personally investigated," Veselnitskaya said, referencing Browder.
For his part, Browder maintains Veselnitskaya had ties to the Russian government, including prosecutor Chaika.
"I think that she's working hand in glove with Chaika, and it's all part of a coordinated strategy back at headquarters," Browder said, the Journal reported.
Browder is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about Veselnitskaya and others, the committee announced this week.
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