Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote to DHS Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Tuesday asking how a Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. last year was allowed to stay in the U.S. for at least six months after her immigration parole expired.
Natalia Veselnitskaya has been in the headlines in recent days after the New York Times, calling her a “Kremlin-linked lawyer,” reported on a meeting she had at Trump Tower in June with Trump Jr., then-campaign chair Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
While the meeting itself focused on the Russian ban on adoption of Russian children by American parents, emails from Trump Jr. show that he was promised information that would compromise Hillary Clinton, purportedly as part of a Russian effort to help his father. Trump critics claim this represents an attempt at collusion by Trump Jr.
In the letter sent Tuesday, Chuck Grassley notes that Natalia Veselnitskaya said she was denied a visa to the U.S. and that, while she was subsequently granted “immigration parole” to travel in 2015, her parole expired on January 7, 2016, and a request to extend was denied. Yet she was able to meet with Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June.
“It is unclear how she was still in the country for that meeting despite being denied a visa beforehand and her parole purportedly expiring on January 7, 2016. This raises serious questions about whether the Obama administration authorized her to remain in the country, and if so, why?” Grassley says.
Grassley’s letter notes that Veselnitskaya’s alleged role in efforts to undermine American sanctions as part of her lobbying against the Magnitsky Act was cited in a complaint that she was one of a number of Russian agents who failed to register as such under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
In his letter, Grassley requests information about how the lawyer was able to stay in the U.S. at least until the meeting in June. He also requests information on any visa applications Veselnitskaya made, any visas she held and under what category, as well as any denials she received. It also asks which government agencies, if any, requested parole for Veselnitskaya.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.