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Friday, July 21, 2017

Lawyer who met with Trump Jr. had Russian intelligence connections - The Washington Post

"Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Moscow lawyer with powerful government contacts, represented a military unit founded by the Federal Security Service in court cases in 2011 and 2012, court rulings seen by The Washington Post show.

In those cases, Veselnitskaya represented Military Unit 55002 in a dispute over a five-story office building in northwest Moscow where a number of electronics companies were based. It was not immediately clear what the spy agency, known as the FSB, used the building for. But the state-run company that now occupies the property provides electronic components for Russian tech companies.

The news was first reported on Friday by Reuters, which said it had seen documents showing Veselnitskaya’s role in the legal tussle began as early as 2005 and lasted until 2013.

According to legal records, Military Unit 55002 was founded by the FSB, and it is located next to the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the Soviet Union’s secret police and intelligence agency for decades. The military unit works on procurement for the FSB, which directs Russia’s counterintelligence and border security agencies.

There is no information suggesting that Veselnitskaya is herself an intelligence agent or an employee of the Russian government. But the new information adds to the intrigue surrounding the June 2016 encounter, in which Donald Trump Jr. met with what he was told was a “Russian government attorney” who could offer damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin ordered a campaign of cyberattacks and propaganda aimed at undermining the American presidential election and discrediting Clinton. A special counsel is investigating possible coordination between Trump’s associates and Russian officials during the campaign. President Trump has denied that his campaign received assistance from Russia.

Veselnitskaya could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

The court rulings are the first legal evidence to emerge of a relationship between Veselnitskaya and the Russian intelligence establishment. Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist who accompanied her to the meeting at Trump Tower, has also reportedly told friends that he was a former counterintelligence officer. He has told journalists that that is untrue."

Lawyer who met with Trump Jr. had Russian intelligence connections - The Washington Post

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