Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to answer questions about his "abrupt" 2017 settlement of a fraud case involving the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. in 2016, and whether those two events are somehow connected.
Trump Jr. met with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in 2016, and nearly a year later, the Justice Department settled with Prevezon Holdings, the company she represented.
The Democratic letter didn't explain how the two events might be connected, but said they are worried "the two events may be connected — and that the department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts."
The case brought against the Russian firm Prevezon Holdings was scheduled to go to trial in late May of 2017, but was settled just days prior. The $6 million settlement was roughly half of the amount originally sought by the Justice Department in the case, which had been brought against Prevezon in 2013 by former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.
The Democrats also note in their letter to Sessions that Prevezon never had to admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
The Obama administration's Justice Department accused the company of laundering "some proceeds of a $230 million Russian tax refund fraud scheme involving corrupt Russian officials."
Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met with Trump Jr. last June in Trump Tower, worked on the case defending Prevezon in the Southern District of New York in 2016. Trump Jr. released emails this week showing that he was told Veselnitskaya had damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Democrats said they want to know why the case was settled days before the trial was scheduled to begin, and asked for "prosecution files" and any other materials that could explain the decision.
They also want to know if President Trump, White House staff, the Trump family or anyone with the Trump presidential campaign contacted the Justice Department regarding the Prevezon case.
And finally, the Democrats want to know if Sessions discussed the Prevezon case with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, someone Sessions has said he met with two, possible three times prior to becoming attorney general.
The Democrats want answers soon: No later than July 26.