According to the latest revelations in the Russian investigation, Justice Department and court interviews and documents, Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who successfully infiltrated President Donald Trump’s inner circle, was originally allowed to enter the US by the DOJ under “extraordinary circumstances.”
Evidence shows that following her entry into the US in 2015, she initiated a lobbying campaign that seems to have entangled Donald Trump Jr., State Department officials, members of the Congress and the media.
This disclosure clearly shows that it was the Obama administration Justice Department that allowed Veselnitskaya, the newest figure in the long-running Russia-Trump collusion story, to enter the US without a visa.
In June last year, a series of emails between Rob Goldstone, a music publicist and alleged intermediary for members of the Trump campaign and the Russian lawyer, ultimately ensnared the president’s eldest son into the controversy.
Newly disclosed video footage shows that only five days after meeting with Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner at the Trump Tower, Veselnitskaya attended the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Russia policy. Veselnitskaya can be clearly seen sitting in the front row in the video footage.
The Moscow lawyer was also actively involved in a lobbying campaign for Russia. She watched a movie at the Newseum in DC, where pro-Russia activists watched a movie that defied the foundations of US human rights law called the Magnitysky Act, which imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged violation of several human rights laws.
While Putin’s response to the law was to disallow American from adopting Russian children, a complaint under the Foreign Agent Registration Act filed with the DOJ shows that State Department officials and at least five other congressional staffers also attended the event at the Newseum.
Records show that Veselnitskaya also met with Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Cali.), chairman of the House subcommittee in charge of Russia policy, and 20 other guests at a diner often visited by Republicans.
When asked about the meeting in a recent interview, Rohrabacher said, “There was a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club here with about 20 people. I think I was the only congressman there. They were talking about the Magnitysky 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.”
According to Rohrabacher, the Russian lawyer and her American colleagues, including Ronald Dellums, former Democratic Congressman, she believed they were lobbying to somehow reverse the Magnitysky Act.
“I don’t think this was very heavily lobbied at all compared with the other issues we deal with,” he said.
While both Veselnitskaya and Dellums did not respond to queries for a comment, in an interview earlier this with NBC News, the Moscow-based lawyer admitted to having been in touch with Trump Jr. and others in Washington to lobby and show congressmen “the real circumstances behind the Magnitsky Act.”
However, federal court documents show that lobbying for the reversal of the Magnitysky Act was not the reason the US government had allowed Veselnitskaya to enter the country back in 2015.
Initially, her visa application to enter the US had been rejected. However, she was later given a special immigration parole by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch only to help defend Russian businessman Denis Katsyv’s company against an asset forfeiture case by the DOJ in New York City.
Then, in January 2016, as Veselnitskaya’s special permission to stay in the US was nearing its end, federal prosecutors detailed how unusual it was to grant parole immigration as she asked for an extension in her permission to stay in the country.
“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 explained to the judge back on Jan. 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 added.
Prosecution lawyers also said Justice was willing to let the Moscow-based lawyer enter the country once again so she could prepare for court proceedings as the trial date loomed closer.
Recently disclosed court records indicate that the judge asked the DOJ to allow Veselnitskaya to stay another week till he decides the motions in the case. However, there are no other court records that show how that request was responded to or how Veselnitskaya magically appeared in the US again later that year.