The Russian attorney now at the center of suspicions of the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Kremlin was allowed into the country by the Justice Department under former President Barack Obama.
People are beginning to wonder exactly what connections Natalia Veselnitskaya had with Democratic operatives.
Natalia Veselnitskaya was allowed into the United States in late 2015 under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ even though she did not have a visa, according to The Hill.
The Obama administration granted the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. last June a special type of “parole” to be in the United States after she initially was denied a visa, Fox News has confirmed – though it remains unclear whether she had permission to be in the country when she attended the Trump Tower session.
That meeting has, in the last week, caused massive headaches for the Trump White House, with the revelation that an intermediary told the president’s son the attorney had dirt on Hillary Clinton, supposedly as part of the Russian government’s bid to help his dad.
But as lawmakers from both parties are scrutinizing the Trump family over the contacts, one powerful senator is pressing to find out how attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was in the country at all.
‘In October  the government bypassed the normal visa process and gave a type of extraordinary permission to enter the country called immigration parole,’ Assistant US Attorney Paul Monteleoni told a federal judge during a court hearing on January 6, 2016.
‘That’s a discretionary act that the statute allows the Attorney General to do in extraordinary circumstances.
‘In this case, we did that so that Mr. Katsyv could testify.
‘And we made the further accommodation of allowing his Russian lawyer into the country to assist,’ he said.
While the US Attorney’s Office in New York did confirm that the Justice Department granted Veselnitskaya immigration parole from October 2015 until January 2016, officials there could not explain how she was able to legally enter the country in June.
That was when Veselnitskaya met at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr; Paul Manafort, who at the time was the chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign; and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top advisor.
Also – sitting next to Veselnitskaya is Emin Agalarov. Another man mentioned in Trump Jr.’s emails. He’s the man who set up the meeting between the two.
Keep in mind as well, that both of these individuals are connected with Fusion GPS, a Democratic opposition research firm believed to be behind the leaking of the fake “dossier” against President Trump.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he did not fault his son Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with Veselnitskaya during the 2016 presidential election campaign and he was unaware of the meeting until a few days ago.
Asked if he knew that his son was meeting with her in June last year, the president told Reuters in a White House interview: ‘No, that I didn’t know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this.’
Seated at his Oval Office desk, Trump said he did not fault his son for holding the meeting, writing it off as a decision made in the heat of an upstart, non-traditional campaign.
‘I think many people would have held that meeting,’ Trump said.
In the White House interview, the president said he directly asked President Vladimir Putin if he was involved in what US intelligence says was Russian meddling in the presidential campaign and that Putin had insisted he was not.
Asked if he believed Putin’s denial, Trump paused.
‘Look. Something happened and we have to find out what it is, because we can’t allow a thing like that to happen to our election process. So something happened and we have to find out what it is,’ he said.
About Putin he added: ‘Somebody did say if he did do it you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.’
Trump equivocated on whether he felt he could trust Putin.
He said Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping both look out for their country’s interests, as he looks out for US interests.
‘I am not a person who goes around trusting lots of people. But he’s the leader of Russia. It is the second most powerful nuclear power on earth. I am the leader of the United States. I love my country. He loves his country,’ Trump said.
As in the past, Trump said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
‘There was zero coordination. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,’ he said.
A Republican, Trump said Democrats had used the accusations to justify Clinton’s loss in November, saying: ‘The White House is functioning beautifully despite the hoax made up by the Democrats.’
Sources: The Federalist Papers Project