Tags: Barack Obama | Donald Trump | Homeland Security | Russia | Russia Probe | Trump Administration | lawyer

Report: Obama's DOJ Let Russian Lawyer Into US

Image: Report: Obama's DOJ Let Russian Lawyer Into US
Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya (AP Photo/Yury Martyanov)

Wednesday, 12 Jul 2017 10:39 PM

The Obama Justice Department allowed the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. into the country for a court case months before the meeting occurred, The Hill reported.

Moscow attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was given special permission to enter the United States by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but the purpose was supposed to have been to work on a court case in New York City, and her stay was supposed to have been limited to October 2015 to early January 2016, The Hill reported Wednesday.

But no one has been able to explain why Veselnitskaya was still in the United States six months later, when she met with Trump Jr., Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

According to Trump Jr., Veselnitskaya claimed to have damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but their brief 20-minute meeting in Trump Tower instead focused on Russian adoption issues. Her purported information on Clinton was incomprehensible, he said.

Veselnitskaya herself says she was attempting to sway Trump to either overturn the Magnitsky Act, which punishes Russian officials and businessmen believed tied to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, whom the United States maintains was killed in a Moscow jail awaiting trial on phony tax-fraud charges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was so incensed at the legislation he stopped Americans from adopting Russian orphans.

Veselnitskaya was seen around Washington during the same time she met with Trump Jr., The Hill reported. She attended a showing of an anti-Magnitsky film at the Newseum and can be seen in video footage sitting behind a former U.S. ambassador testifying about American-Russian relations before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

She also attended a dinner with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., chairman of the House subcommittee on Russia policy, The Hill reported.

"There was a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club here with about 20 people," Rohrabacher said, per The Hill. "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."

Veselnitskaya was present with U.S. colleagues, including former Democratic Rep. Ronald Dellums, a friend of Rohrabacher's. Rohrabacher said he believes Dellums was a hired lobbyist to aid in trying to overturn the Magnitsky Act, or at least keep Magnitsky's name off a global act being considered by Congress.

"I don't think this was very heavily lobbied at all compared with the other issues we deal with," he told The Hill.

But such lobbying fell outside the limited time and reasons Veselnitskaya was granted permission to enter the United States without a visa.

She was allowed into the country to help with a Justice Department asset forfeiture case against a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv.

"In October the government bypassed the normal visa process and gave a type of extraordinary permission to enter the country called immigration parole,' Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni told a judge Jan. 6, 2016.

"That's a discretionary act that the statute allows the Attorney General to do in extraordinary circumstances," he said. "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."

Officials in the Justice and State departments were not able to explain how Veselnitskaya remained in the country past her January deadline, The Hill reported.

Others who said they were lobbied by Veselnitskaya, who does not speak English, said they came away from those meetngs just as perplexed as Donald Trump Jr. said he did.

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The Obama Justice Department allowed the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. into the country for a court case months before the meeting occurred, The Hill reported.
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