More than a dozen Democrats in the House of Representatives are questioning why the Justice Department settled a recent money laundering case involving the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In May, the Department of Justice settled a case with Prevezon Holdings Ltd., which was accused of being involved in a tax-fraud scheme worth approximately $230 million and funneling money into real estate holdings in Manhattan.
Natalia Veselnitskaya was the lawyer representing Prevezon in the case. Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr. in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 and allegedly promised to give him, former campaign chair Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, damaging information on then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Two days before the trial was set to begin, the Department agreed to settle this $230 million case for less than $6 million and no admission of wrongdoing,” the letter reads. “Ms. Veselnitskaya told one Russian news outlet that the penalty was so light that it seemed ‘almost an apology from the government.”
The letter, which was signed by 17 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, seeks answers from the Department of Justice on a number of questions including:
- The reason the settlement amount was so low
- Whether there was contact between Trump and the Department of Justice regarding the settlement with Prevezon,
- Whether the case was discussed with anyone who worked as part of Trump’s transition team
- Whether Sessions discussed the case with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak
The letter concludes by noting that the Justice Department has not responded to “at least twelve” other letters sent in the past and asks for a response by July 26.
The letter is signed by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI-13), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-T.X.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Henry Johnson Jr. (D-Ga.), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Dep. David Ciclline (D-R.I.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Rep. Jamie Rasking (D-M.D.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).