Russian lawyer connected to Trump Tower meeting charged in separate case

The Russian lawyer who met in 2016 with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower has been charged in a separate case.

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Natalia Veselnitskaya has been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, according to court records unsealed Tuesday by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

The case is not related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling or to Veselnitskaya’s meeting with Trump campaign officials in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to officials.

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Prosecutors said Veselnitskaya represented a company that was facing forfeiture and civil money laundering penalties when she submitted a declaration to the court that was “intentionally misleading.”

Investigators believe the company, Prevezon Holdings, was involved in a Russian tax refund fraud scheme that cost Russian taxpayers more than $200 million.

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“This investigation brought to light how Veselnitskaya secretly schemed with a senior Russian prosecutor to provide false information to U.S. law enforcement,” said Angel Melendez, the special agent-in-charge of the New York field office for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

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Officials said Veselnitskaya submitted findings to the U.S. District Court that exonerated Prevezon Holdings and that she claimed the documents had been independently drafted by the Russian government. Officials said she, “participated in drafting those supposed exculpatory investigative findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor.”

Veselnitskaya is believed to be living in Russia, according to The Associated Press.

Her name surfaced in 2017, after it was revealed that President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, met with her at Trump Tower in June 2016, months ahead of the presidential election.

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The younger Trump agreed to take the meeting after being promised information meant to incriminate his father's political rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskaya was presented as a representative of the Russian government, according to the AP, though she has denied that she was acting on the behalf of Russia officials. She told Congress she operates "independently of any government bodies," the AP reported.

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