The Hill reports that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer members of Donald Trump’s campaign met with in the summer of 2016 to see about obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, now is saying that her goal in the meeting was to see about prospects for getting sanctions against Russia lifted under a Trump administration.
Natalia Veselnitskaya said she went to New York City in June 2016 to inform Trump campaign officials that certain Democratic donors had evaded taxes and to lobby against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law sanctioning Russia in response to the death of a whistleblower in a Moscow prison.
She recalled Trump Jr. saying, “if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it. I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,” Bloomberg reported.
The content being revealed is not a novelty. Anybody keeping up with this knew this sort of thing had to be a topic of discussion in that meeting, and that there must have been, if not a positive response on the Trump campaign side, at least no absolute “we won’t be doing that” message.
What is news here is that Veselnitskaya, who more likely than not only says things on direction of the Kremlin, is willing to torpedo Donald Trump, Jr., and other attendees of that meeting with a specific recitation of exactly what sort of quid pro quo was put on the table then. The Russians have all along shown an advanced knowledge of the US political context, so Veselnitskaya saying these things at this time can’t be dismissed as coincidental or accidental.
I’ve expected all along that once Russia, and more specifically President Vladimir Putin, believes the Trump administration is no longer capable of advancing Russian interests in business-as-usual mode, that utilizing the downfall of that administration to sow maximum discord within US politics would be their next goal. I had expected the shift to happen much earlier, but it is possible that is now in play given this news.