The Russian Attorney at the Center of the Trump Jr. Scandal

The anti-Magnitsky efforts gave Veselnitskaya another turn in the spotlight. Last summer, shortly before the Trump Tower meeting, Nekrasov, the Russian director, released a film that questioned Browder’s version of Magnitsky’s story. It was supposed to have its premiere on the floor of the European Parliament, but at the last moment, Browder got the showing canceled. Suddenly, Veselnitskaya, whom Nekrasov says he had never met before and who he says had no involvement in the film’s production, appeared and delivered a searing indictment of the cancellation—in Russian. “[N]o one speaks Russian in the Parliament,” Nekrasov told me. “She gave a speech that was, to my taste, a little too emotional. She said something like, ‘it’s my country, it’s been shamed, it has been covered in dirt.’ It was very effective—she’s a lawyer, she can speak well—and all the media was there and the cameras all turned toward her. She became the star.”

Veselnitskaya quickly seized the mantle, organizing showings of the film in New York and Washington, as well as in Moscow, where Nikita Mikhalkov, the Kremlin’s favorite film director and Putin advocate, introduced the film. “She’s a very passionate person and maybe sometimes she gets carried away,” Nekrasov says.

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When Veselnitskaya found herself meeting with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, she had been in New York to deal with the Katsyv case and the Magnitsky Act. It was this, she claims, that she wanted to discuss with Trump Jr., who by his own account was disappointed that she hadn’t come bearing kompromat on Hillary Clinton. (According to Veselnitskaya’s account in an interview to the Today Show, Kushner got up and walked out mid-meeting, and Manafort seemed uninterested, eyes glued to his phone.)