Well, this is quite a twist. It appears now that the only reason the Russian lawyer, who may have pulled a bait-and-switch to get a meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., was granted entrance to the United States by Attorney General Loretta Lynch under a visa waiver program back in 2015. Her name is Natalia Veselnitskaya, but at this point, we know her as the “Russian lawyer,” so we’ll stick with that. It also appears that she was in the United States pushing some kind of informal protest and lobbying campaign against the 2012 Magnitsky Act.
The Hill picks up the story from here:
The Russian lawyer who penetrated Donald Trump’s inner circle was initially cleared into the United States by the Justice Department under “extraordinary circumstances” before she embarked on a lobbying campaign last year that ensnared the president’s eldest son, members of Congress, journalists and State Department officials, according to court and Justice Department documents and interviews.
This revelation means it was the Obama Justice Department that enabled the newest and most intriguing figure in the Russia-Trump investigation to enter the country without a visa.
Later, a series of events between an intermediary for the attorney and the Trump campaign ultimately led to the controversy surrounding the president’s eldest son.
Just five days after meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and then Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Moscow attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya showed up in Washington in the front row of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Russia policy, video footage of the hearing shows.
She also engaged in a pro-Russia lobbying campaign and attended an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. where Russian supporters showed a movie that challenged the underpinnings of the U.S. human rights law known as the Magnitysky Act, which Russian leader Vladimir Putin has reviled and tried to reverse.
Shortly after the Trump Jr. revelations broke, some people found pictures of the Russian lawyer seated at the House Foreign Affairs committee meeting around the time she met with Trump’s oldest son, and that started creating more questions that needed answering. Some started asking whether the whole thing could have been a setup, according to the LA Times:
“The whole thing smacks of a setup,” Limbaugh said of Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer. “The one thing here: If this meeting was about collusion, what was the collusion? And that remains the question in every story that we have been dished for the past six months. What is the collusion? What was the hack? Two separate questions. But what was the collusion here involving Donald Trump Jr.?”
Well, the setup could have been the bait-and-switch to secure the meeting with Don Jr., but the content of the emails where he accepts the meeting to receive information coming from the “Russian government” is the real meat of the story. Even if it was a setup, Don Jr. walked right into it, hook, line, and sinker.
Back to the story from The Hill:
And Veselnitskaya also attended a dinner with the chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing Russia policy, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and roughly 20 other guests at a dinner club frequented by Republicans.
In an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, 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.”
Rohrabacher said he believed Veselnitskaya and her U.S. colleagues, which included former Democratic Congressman Ronald Dellums, were lobbying other lawmakers to reverse the Magnitysky Act and restore the ability of Americans to adopt Russian children that Moscow had suspended.
“I don’t think this was very heavily lobbied at all compared with the other issues we deal with,” he said.
It’s clear the Russian lawyer did have some ties to lawmakers in the United States, and somehow was able to get movement up the chain of command in the Justice Department to be granted a visa waiver for “extraordinary circumstances,” which is extremely rare.
There will be more to this story, but this aspect of it was too good to pass up. Such a tangled web.