Hacked emails first reported on by the media over the weekend appear to reveal that officials were discussing Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya just a few days before her June 9, 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. to discuss what she claimed at the time was politically damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The cache of correspondence was allegedly taken from a State Department Russian Affairs intelligence official and has yet to be verified.
The email, filename 00002215.eml, was sent by Hermitage Capital Management Founder and Director William Browder to the State Department’s Russia Domestic Affairs Division Chief Robert Otto and House Committee on Foreign Affairs staffer Kyle Parker appearing to show the three sharing an image of Veselnitskaya’s house. It is unclear why the individuals were discussing Veselnitskaya’s place of residence, although Browder is renowned for leading calls to establish the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which Veselnitskaya was lobbying against.
Since the New York Times July 10 report exposing the meeting, online observers have noted a number of details which they claim shows evidence that Donald Trump Jr. was baited into speaking with Veselnitskaya in order to give his father’s political opponents leverage. The Independent has highlighted Veselnitskaya and publicist Rob Goldstone’s ties to Fusion GPS, the lobbying firm responsible for the notorious dossier of wild and unproven allegations about President Trump which has also been involved with lobbying against the Magnitsky Act. Anatoli Samochornov, the translator who accompanied Ms. Veselnitskaya to the meeting is also a former employee of the FBI according to a press release from 2010. On July 12, 2017 The Hill reported that Veselnitskaya was allowed to enter the United States by the Department of Justice under “extraordinary circumstances” despite the fact that she did not possess a proper visa. Some have claimed that the emails sent to Donald Jr. were intentionally worded to create a basis for a FISA request to surveil and unmask the Trump team.
The revelation that additional federal organizations were engaged in converstions with lobbyist groups where Ms. Veselnitskaya was discussed ahead of her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. will no doubt add additional fuel to an already raging fire of controversy.