Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya should never have been in the United States to meet with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016. That is because she did not have a valid visa and her requests to stay in the country while she worked to adjust her immigration status were denied. Yet, the Obama administration allowed her to travel from Russia to New York City to meet with Donald Trump Jr.
Republicans in Congress would like to know why Obama administration officials allowed Natalia Veselnitskaya to enter the country illegally twice in the past year. Veselnitskaya did have a valid visa at one point, but it expired, and the government refused to renew it.
Since the Obama administration set a record for deporting anyone with a lapsed immigration status, many are wondering why Natalia Veselnitskaya was never deported. Worse yet, why was she allowed to enter the country illegally, something that would have been impossible had she been a Mexican day laborer looking for work.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. in New York last summer, said she was denied a U.S. visa in 2015.
She then asked federal prosecutors for permission to enter the U.S. to work on behalf of a client in a Manhattan. Prosecutors granted Veselnitskaya temporary “immigration parole” in late 2015 but it expired in early 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York told The Daily Beast.
Veselnitskaya’s parole was not renewed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office added.
That raises the question of how Veselnitskaya was able to enter the U.S. in June 2016 when she visited Trump Tower.
The State Department would not confirm or deny whether Veselnitskaya applied again for a visa in 2016, let alone if a visa was granted. A spokesperson told The Daily Beast the State Department could not comment due to privacy considerations. Veselnitskaya also did not respond to requests for comment.
Yet Veselnitskaya visited the U.S. at least once more after she met with Trump Jr.
In February 2017, Veselnitskaya appeared in a Manhattan federal courtroom with interpreters, according to a court transcript reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley demanded to know how Veselnitskaya was able to stay in the U.S. after her parole expired on Tuesday. “This raises serious questions about whether the Obama administration authorized her to remain in the country, and if so, why?” Grassley wrote.
Veselnitskaya said in a court filing she was denied a visa to enter the U.S. in 2015. Veselnitskaya said she also requested visas for her children “so that they could be together with me over the Christmas holiday while I was working in New York on this lawsuit, but this was also denied.”
It is unclear why Veselnitskaya’s visa request was denied.
In fall 2015, Veselnitskaya persuaded federal prosecutors to grant her immigration parole. Despite this, Veselnitskaya told the court she was strip-searched at the airport, alleging U.S. immigration authorities “specifically targeted me on the basis of the parole number that the United States Government had assigned to me.”
In January 2016, Veselnitskaya filed a declaration to extend her parole past that month. The U.S. Attorney’s Office objected.
“What we’ve told defense counsel, when they have asked for it to be extended, is we will reauthorize the immigration parole to allow them to attend for trial and for reasonable pretrial preparation once there is a trial date,” Assistant U.S. attorney Paul Monteleoni said, according to a court transcript.
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