It was the Obama Justice Department that cleared the way for the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. to enter the U.S. despite being denied a visa previously.
Natalia Veselnitskaya was granted special immigration parole in 2015 by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in order to defend her client in federal court in New York City, The Hill reported.
EXCLUSIVE: DOJ let Russian lawyer into US before she met with Trump team https://t.co/jvqsEW0DKZ pic.twitter.com/IdbJ636hIX
— The Hill (@thehill) July 13, 2017
“That’s a discretionary act that the statute allows the attorney general to do in extraordinary circumstances,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni had said in a hearing in January 2016. But six months later, the Moscow attorney was inexplicably still in the U.S., where she was involved in a pro-Russia lobbying campaign, attended a Congressional committee hearing and ultimately met with the president’s eldest son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
While Veselnitskaya’s claim to Trump Jr. to have damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton turned out to be without merit, she apparently spent some time around Washington, D.C. at other events.
Video footage showed the attorney just days after meeting Trump Jr., in the front row of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Russia policy seated behind former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.
Hey, look what I found. Veselnitskaya sitting behind @McFaul at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Russia, June 14, 2014: pic.twitter.com/Sb3LiEAnrD
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) July 11, 2017
She attended an event at the Newseum in Washington where a film was shown challenging the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged human rights violations in connection with the death of Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sought to overturn the law, responded by revoking the ability of Americans to adopt Russian children.
State Department officials and congressional staffers also attended the movie event.
Veselnitskaya was also seen at a dinner with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher around this same time period. The California Republican and chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing Russia policy described the dinner to The Hill on Wednesday.
“There was a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club here with about 20 people,” he said. “I think I was the only congressman there. They were talking about the Magnitsky case. But that wasn’t just the topic. There was a lot of other things going on. So I think she was there, but I don’t remember any type of conversation with her between us. But I understand she was at the table.”
Also present at the dinner club was Rohrabacher’s friend and former Democratic Rep. Ron Dellums, a radical left-wing California congressman who was reportedly a hired lobbyist for Veselnitskaya.
“I don’t think this was very heavily lobbied at all compared with the other issues we deal with,” Rohrabacher told the Hill. “Ron and I like each other … I have to believe he was a hired lobbyist but I don’t know.”
But these lobbying efforts and other activities were beyond what Veselnitskaya’s limited visa allowed, not to mention the fact that they extended beyond the expiration of that visa.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has requested all documents pertaining to Veselnitskaya entry and travel in the U.S. in an effort to “get to the botoom” of how she remained in the country and for what purpose.
“She shouldn’t have been in the country,” the Iowa senator and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. “It was in the previous administration. If there’d been enforcements of the immigration laws, she wouldn’t have been in the country.”
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