Remember back in May, that sudden settlement by the Justice Department in a Russian money laundering case? I sure do, because I remember thinking, “that’s fishy — sounds like something Trump might be involved in. Well, turns out it’s fishy AF. The defendant’s attorney was Kremlin-connected Natalia Veselnitskaya — who met with Don Jr., Kushner and Manafort in Trump Tower last June.
From the AP, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday questioned the decision by the Trump administration Justice Department to settle a money-laundering forfeiture case with a Russian real estate investment firm that has ties to the Russian lawyer who met last year with President Donald Trump's son.
Natalia Veselnitskaya represented the owner of Russian firm Prevezon Holdings Ltd. The letter sent by House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers and other Democrats asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether Veselnitskaya had been involved in settlement negotiations between the Russian firm and the Justice Department.
Prevezon agreed in May to pay $6 million to the government to avoid a civil trial on charges that the firm had laundered proceeds from an alleged $230 million Russian tax fraud scheme.
Veselnitskaya represented Dennis Katsyv, Prevezon's owner. Katsyv backed a lobbying campaign in Congress and with federal officials last year that was aimed at scuttling the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that used sanctions to target officials and associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government.
And here is an excerpt from the House Judiciary Committee Democrats’ press release:
On May 12, 2017—just two days before the Prevezon trial was set to begin—the Department of Justice settled the case for less than $6 million and no admission of guilt. Ms. Veselnitskaya told one Russian news outlet that the penalty was so light that it seemed “almost an apology from the government.”
Full text of the letter to Attorney General Sessions can be found here.
Who knows if this settlement was quid pro quo for help in rigging the election for Trump, but I bet the House Dems and/or Mueller will find out.