Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was a Russian government informant when she met with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016, she admitted in an interview with NBC News slated to air Friday. She had previously denied she had any ties to the Russian government.
"I am a lawyer, and I am an informant," she told NBC News. "Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general," according to Newsweek.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign has been investigating the 2016 meeting, which emails show was scheduled by the Trump camp in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The meeting was attended by Donald Trump Jr., senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief who Mueller charged with a litany of offenses, including money laundering and charges.
Veselnitskaya said she was working for Yuri Chaika at the time of the meeting, the prosecutor general of Russia and a "top Kremlin official," according to the New York Times. In November, Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had "no relationship with Mr. Chaika, his representatives and his institutions other than those related to my professional functions as a lawyer."
But emails obtained by a former oil tycoon and vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin show Veselnitskaya worked closely with Chaika's office to help defend a real estate firm owned by a Russian businessman against Justice Department civil fraud charges, even though she said she was acting independently as an attorney on behalf of the firm, Prevezon Holdings. The Justice Department eventually settled with the firm for $6 million, but Prevezon has yet to pay.
Donald Trump Jr. has said the meeting with Veselnitskaya did not result in the damaging information he was hoping for.
"It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information," the president's son said in a statement last year, adding that Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss adoption policy. "It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting."