Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting 'ready to testify'
Posted July 19
A Russian lawyer who attended a controversial June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower told CNN on Wednesday that she is willing to testify before the US Senate.
Asked by CNN if she is willing to testify before the US Senate, Natalia Veselnitskaya texted back: "Yes, I'm ready, if I will be provided with guarantees for my safety. I do not intend to say anything more, on the advice of my lawyers."
The meeting has drawn widespread scrutiny since The New York Times reported on it earlier this month. In the wake of the Times' reporting, Trump Jr. posted a series of emails on Twitter between himself and Rob Goldstone, a publicist for Emin Agalarov -- a Russian-Azerbaijani pop star who has previously done business with the Trumps alongside his father Aras Agalarov, a Russian real estate mogul with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the emails, Goldstone said the elder Agalarov had received "information that would incriminate" Hillary Clinton, and he offered to help the Trump campaign gain access to that information as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort were also among eight people known to have attended the meeting.
Revelations about the meeting have fueled congressional investigations into the nature of communication between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Russia.
Lawyer offers 'real, true story'
Veselnitskaya told the Russian government-backed media outlet RT on Tuesday that she was ready to testify before the US Congress in order to clarify the "mass hysteria" around her story, if it was done within a legal framework and her safety was assured.
"If the Senate wishes to hear the real story, I will be happy to speak up and share everything I wanted to tell Mr. Trump," she said, according to RT.
Veselnitskaya claims that American businessman Bill Browder, a fierce critic of the Kremlin who was tried and convicted in absentia for tax evasion in Russia and was once a client of slain lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, had gathered personal information about her and her family and shared it with the US Congress.
Veselnitskaya has been working to repeal a US law known as the Magnitsky Act -- named for the man who was once Browder's lawyer -- which allows the United States to withhold visas and freeze the assets of Russians thought to have violated human rights.
She said she wanted to warn Trump Jr. that Browder was "manipulating" members of Congress. "This is the story I went with to Mr. Trump Jr., to tell how a specific person, who gave up American citizenship, is now manipulating a number of people working in Congress," Veselnitskaya said.
Goldstone link denied
Veselnitskaya also denied knowing Goldstone who, according to the emails released by Trump Jr., is the person who reached him offering to set up a meeting with a person Goldstone described as "Russian government attorney."
Asked by the RT reporter if she could "refute" the email sent from Goldstone to Trump Jr., Veselnitskaya said: "I don't even know this person."
Speaking with CNN last week, Veselnitskaya also denied ever having worked for the Russian government.
The story that Trump Jr. was offered potential information from the Russian government to aid his father's campaign came after months of staunch denials from members of the Trump campaign that they had been willing to collude with Russians during the 2016 campaign.