The firm that hired Christopher Steele to prepare the dossier alleging collusion between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, also worked closely on a joint lobbying job with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. We do not know if Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele, encouraged Veselnitskaya to arrange the meeting, but the fact that the meeting took place has breathed new life into Fusion GPS’ dossier claim that Trump conspired with Putin.
Here’s what we know:
1. The meeting between Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya is being used to suggest that Trump Jr. was a channel for arranging the collusion between Putin and the president –speculation that helps Fusion GPS to validate the claims in its dossier.
2. That Fusion GPS — who hired Steele to amass the dossier — worked with Natalia Veselnitskaya on a lobbying project in the United States. Both Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS had been hired to lobby to repeal the Magnitsky Act. This legislation, passed in 2015 sanctions certain Russians for their involvement in the jailhouse murder of Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblower who revealed massive corruption in Putin’s government (and by Putin himself). In retaliation for the punitive sanctions, Putin has frozen any adoptions by Americans of Russian children.
Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer who represents the son of Petr Katsyv who is vice president of the state-owned Russian railways. Katsyv has had $14 million in assets frozen by the sanctions of the Magnitsky Act and wants it repealed.
It would have been easy for Fusion to suggest to Veselnitskaya that she meet with Trump jr.. Indeed, Veselnitskaya says that she did discuss with Trump jr. ending the freeze on adoptions, which could only be done by repealing the Magnitsky Act, a key goal of both Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS.
But did Fusion GPS have another motive for wanting Veselnitskaya to meet Trump jr.? Such a meeting would have — and certainly has — served to validate claims that the Trumps were in collusion with Putin. Collusion requires that there was a meeting. So far, the Fusion/Steele dossier cannot produce proof of any meeting. Its allegations of meetings have been proven to be so false they are laughable. But the Trump-Veselnitskaya meeting did happen and it is permitting Trump’s critics to read into it lots of speculation about collusion.
We know that the Trump-Veselnitskaya meeting focused on the Magnitsky Law and the need for its repeal. Veselnitskaya says that she and Trump Jr. discussed ending the ban on adoptions of Russian children by Americans which could only be done by repealing the Magnitsky Act.
So was the Trump-Veselnitskaya meeting a set-up arranged under the pretext of restarting American-Russian adoptions whose real purpose was to implicate Trump Jr. in charges of collusion being peddled by Fusion GPS?