Russian lawyer in Trump Tower meeting charged with obstruction of justice

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

Russian lawyer's ties to Kremlin

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with top Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower, has been charged with obstruction of justice in connection with a separate civil money laundering and forfeiture case, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced Tuesday. The indictment suggests Veselnitskaya has close ties with the Kremlin.

Federal prosecutors charge that Veselnitskaya tried to obstruct a Justice Department civil fraud investigation into money laundering involving a Russian business man's investment firm. Prosecutors allege she made a "misleading" declaration to the court in the process of representing her client Prevezon Holdings, Ltd. U.S. federal prosecutors claim she concealed from the court that she had participated in drafting supposed exculpatory evidence presented to the U.S. court with a senior Russian prosecutor.

"Fabricating evidence – submitting false and deceptive declarations to a federal judge – in an attempt to affect the outcome of pending litigation not only undermines the integrity of the judicial process, but it threatens the ability of our courts and our Government to ensure that justice is done," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. "We take seriously our responsibility to protect the integrity of the judicial proceedings in this District, and we will not stand idly by while outside influences seek to corrupt and pervert that process."

Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and other top Trump campaign officials in the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. A third-party had indicated Veselnitskaya had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

— This is a developing story and will be updated

First published on January 8, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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