President Trump received a question on the press conference in Paris he held with French President Emmanuel Macron, concerning the meeting between his son Donald Trump Jr. and Russian Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskayaduring 2016 U.S. presidential elections
During this week Trump Jr. released the series of email in which he was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton provided by Natalia Veselnitskaya. He agreed to the meeting, Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended that meeting. It is later said that Veselnitskaya did not give out any useful information.
Regarding this, Trump said in Paris “the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.” Than he blamed Obama administration for allowing Veselnitskaya into the country.
“Now, the lawyer that went to the meeting, I see that she was in the halls of Congress also,” Mr. Trump said. “Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by [former] Attorney General [Loretta] Lynch. Now, maybe that’s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago. I was surprised to hear that.”
Lynch’s spokesman said Lynch “does not have any personal knowledge of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s travel.” He also added “the State Department issues visas, and the Department of Homeland Security oversees entry to the United States at airports.”
Trump reminded that Veselnitskaya was firstly denied Visa when she tried to enter the U.S. to represent a Russian client in a New York lawsuit in late 2015, but then approved by the Justice Department outside the normal visa process under a designation known as “immigration parole,” court records show.
Her client was Denis Katsyv who was accused by the U.S. government to be using $230 million in stolen funds to buy real estate. Veselnitskaya said later her request for a visa to travel to the U.S. to work on the case was denied.
The Department of Justice in fact, did granted Katsyv and Veselnitskaya immigration parole. A government attorney said “a discretionary act that the statute allows the attorney general to do in extraordinary circumstances.”
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York granted Veselnitskaya immigration parole in October 2015. Expiring date was set to January 7. Veselnitskaya requested extending, but was denied, according to a declaration filed in U.S. District Court on January 5. She said she had “been harassed by the Government despite being paroled into the United States” when trying to return from a trip to London that November.
Thomas P. Griesa, Judge of the Southern District of New York heard arguments over Veselnitskaya’s request to remain in the U.S. He asked the government’s attorney, Paul Monteleoni, if the Justice Department would agree to grant a one-week extension of Veselnitskaya’s immigration parole status. Monteleoni replied that he did not “have the final say but I will certainly pass the request along to those in the government who do, and I think for an extension of that length I’m optimistic.”
Although it’s unclear whether the DOJ granted Veselnitskaya another extension to continue her work in the U.S., records of the case doesn’t mention an extension being granted beyond January 14, 2016.
On June 7, 2016, Rob Goldstone sent an email to Trumo Jr. that said “The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday,” two days after meeting was held. Goldstone requested to push back the meeting and and said that “the Russian attorney” will be in court until 3 p.m. on June 9.
This suggested that Veselnitskaya returned to Moscow after her immigration parole status expired.
SOmetime after the meeting with Trump Jr. Veselnitskaya traveled to Washington, where she attended a screening of a film decrying the Magnitsky Act.
Case against Katsyv was settled a few months after Mr. Trump entered office.