WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.
The House Democrats also asked why the Justice Department settled with Prevezon two days before trial and asked whether Trump, his family or other aides contacted the Justice Department about its case against Prevezon. The Democrats asked for copies of any messages showing such contacts.
Veselnitskaya met in June with Donald Trump Jr., who had agreed to the meeting after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government.