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Grassley digs for details on how Russian lawyer got into United States for secret Trump Jr. meeting

This news story was published on July 15, 2017.
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Natalia Veselnitskaya

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley this week wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in order to ask how the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump Tower in June of 2016 was allowed to enter the United States.

According to her sworn declaration, former Russian prosecutor Natalia Veselnitskaya was denied a U.S. visa to travel to the United States from Russia to participate in litigation. Although she was subsequently granted immigration parole to make the trip, her parole was set to expire on January 7, 2016.  Her request to extend was denied on January 4, 2016. Recent reports suggest that she met with Trump campaign officials nearly six months after the expiration of her parole in June of 2016. In that meeting, she reportedly discussed the Russian ban on adoptions of Russian children by Americans, a retaliation for the U.S. enactment of the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that blacklisted Russians who were determined to have engaged in certain human rights violations. Veselnitskaya’s role in the

Donnie Trump, Jr.

Russian lobbying effort to undermine the Magnitsky was later cited in a complaint alleging that she and her comrades failed to register as Russian agents under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Among the other unregistered agents cited in the complaint is Fusion GPS, the firm that orchestrated the unsubstantiated anti-Trump dossier.

Vladimir Putin, Russian President, playing America like a fiddle these days.

Grassley has repeatedly expressed concerns about the Justice Department’s enforcement of FARA and its heavy reliance on publicly available material and “voluntary compliance.”

In his letter to Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly, Grassley seeks information relating to how Veselnitskaya may have been able to stay in the United States until June, about any visa applications, visas held, or visa application denials relating to Veselnitskaya and any documentation relating to the conditions of her parole into the United States.

Full text of the letter follows.

July 11, 2017
The Honorable John Kelly                                           The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary                                                                     Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security                     U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20528                                             Washington, D.C. 20520

Charles Grassley

Dear Secretary Kelly and Secretary Tillerson:
In March of this year, the Committee began investigating the Justice Department’s response to a formal complaint alleging failure to register properly under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.  The complaint alleged that a group of unregistered Russian agents worked in the U.S. on behalf of Russian interests to undermine the Magnitsky Act and the Global Magnitsky Act.[1]  As you know, the Magnitsky Act was named after Mr. Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney for Hermitage Capital Management.  In 2007, Mr. Magnitsky discovered that corrupt Russian government officials and members of organized crime had engaged in corporate identity theft, stealing the corporate identities of three Hermitage companies and using them to fraudulently obtain $230 million, which was then laundered out of Russia.  After reporting the crimes to Russian law enforcement, Mr. Magnitsky was arrested by the same corrupt officials.  He died in custody under suspicious circumstances.
Mr. William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, then engaged in a concerted effort to obtain justice for Mr. Magnitsky, and in response to his efforts Congress passed the bipartisan Magnitsky Act, which authorized the President to sanction those involved in Mr. Magnitsky’s death as well as other Russian human rights abusers.  In 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act was also enacted, applying this sanctions framework to human rights abusers worldwide.
It is that same Mr. Browder who in July of 2016 filed the FARA complaint with the Justice Department describing the cohort of Russian agents allegedly involved in the ongoing effort to undermine the Magnitsky Act.[2]  Among them were:
  • Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant to the U.S. who was reportedly a former Russian GRU counterintelligence officer specializing in active measures campaigns;[3]
  • Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS; and
  • Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian lawyer for Prevezon Holdings, a Russian-owned company the Justice Department alleged received millions laundered from the crime Mr. Magnitsky uncovered.[4]
I previously wrote Secretary Kelly seeking immigration information related to Mr. Akhmetshin for the Committee, which I later received.[5]  Today, I write to the two of you seeking information relating to Ms. Veselnitskaya.
In 2013, the Department of Justice initiated a civil asset forfeiture case against Prevezon Holdings, a company owned by Russian Denis Katsyv, the son of a former Russian government minister.[6]  The Justice Department argued that his company had received millions of the laundered $230 million from the conspiracy Mr. Magnitsky discovered.  According to her sworn declaration filed in that case, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a former Moscow prosecutor and founder of Kamerton Consulting, was retained by Prevezon to assist in the suit.[7]
Her declaration raises a number of issues of interest to the Committee, which DHS and State should be able to help explain.  In the declaration, Veselnitskaya testified that she was denied a U.S. visa when she sought to travel to the United States from Russia to participate in the litigation, but was issued a “parole letter” by the U.S. government that permitted her to enter for that purpose.[8]  Although the timeline of events is not perfectly clear, it appears that she was eventually granted this parole in 2015.  According to her testimony she was also detained for two hours at London’s Heathrow airport when she was travelling back to the United States from a trip to London in November, 2015.[9]
Notably, Veselnitskaya’s declaration stated that her parole was set to expire on January 7, 2016, and that she had requested an extension but was denied on January 4, 2016.[10]  Indeed, she noted: “Prior to [January 7, 2016], I will have to leave the United States.”[11]
However, according to news reports, many months later Ms. Veselnitskaya allegedly met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower in New York City on June 9, 2016.  It is unclear how she was still in the country for that meeting despite being denied a visa beforehand and her parole purportedly expiring on January 7, 2016.  This raises serious questions about whether the Obama administration authorized her to remain in the country, and if so, why?
In order for the Committee to understand the circumstances surrounding Veselnitskaya’s visa denial and subsequent parole, please answer the following questions no later than July 25, 2017.
U.S. Department of State
1. Please provide all visa records and associated documentation for Natalia Veselnitskaya.
a. In her affidavit, Natalia Veselnitskaya states that she applied for, but was denied a visa to travel to the United States.
i. Did Veselnitskaya apply for a U.S. visa?  If the answer is yes, what category of visa was sought? Which embassy or consulate did she submit the application? and on what basis was her visa application denied?
ii. Please provide the visa category and validity period for any and all previous visas issued to Veselnitskaya.
iii. Please provide the dates of application submission and the basis of denial for any past visa applications submitted by Veselnitskaya, along with any associated documentation, case notes, or other related information.
iv. Has Veselnitskaya ever been in possession of a U.S. visa that was later revoked? If so, please provide any information that supported the decision to revoke her visa.
b. Was Natalia Veselnitskaya subjected to any additional administrative processing associated with any visa application? Please explain and provide all documentation uncovered, or created, as a result of such additional processing.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
1. Was Natalia Veselnitskaya ever paroled into the United States under INA section 212(d)(5)(A)? If so, on what basis? How many times was parole granted and/or extended? Please provide all information and documentation associated with the request for parole, including any conditions or restrictions imposed in connection with her parole.
a. Which government agencies, if any, requested parole for Natalia Veselnitskaya? Please explain and produce any relevant documentation or notes regarding the decision to grant parole.
i. Please provide any point of contact or a place of residence information that Veselenskaya provided prior to or after a grant of parole.
b. Other than the requesting agency, which agencies, if any, were aware of, provided input regarding, or were otherwise involved in the decision to grant parole? Please explain.
c. Please produce any records of entry into or exit from any port of entry in the United States for Natalia Veselnitskaya, and a timeline of her known travel into the United States.
d. To your knowledge, is Natalia Veselnitskaya in the United States at this time?
I anticipate that your written reply and any responsive documents will be unclassified.
Please send all unclassified material directly to the Committee.  In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all unclassified information directly to the Committee, and provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security.  Although the Committee complies with all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, it is not bound, absent its prior agreement, by any handling restrictions or instructions on unclassified information unilaterally asserted by the Executive Branch.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Should you have any questions, please contact Katherine Nikas or Patrick Davis of my staff at 202-224-5225.
Charles E. Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary

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17 Responses to Grassley digs for details on how Russian lawyer got into United States for secret Trump Jr. meeting

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Bo – How?s your kenyon daddy and hillery the fat pig coming along with your new world order project.? Skunks >

  2. Boris Reply Report comment

    July 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    She heard that Trump was great at grabbing pussy, especially young underage Russian girls and she was here for the audition.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 16, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Bodickhead – the lies are NOT coming from the Trump clan (white hose) They are coming from the covert past and still present holdovers from the black house and the traitorous obama administration – you sound like CNN – you know that anti American phony network. GFY

    • bodacious Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      You aren’t even funny. You are, however, a typical no nothing loser who thinks he knows a lot but is so full of himself that he should go to the outhouse (probably where you frequently are) and relieve yourself of your nonsense and your brains.

    • bodacious Reply Report comment

      July 17, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Also, the white hose as you call it, IS hosing us all.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 16, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Man ! Is it just me or does she look like a pig? PS I have more sympathy for the 4 legged ones..

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 15, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Nothing honest about the past democratic president and his party of Anti Americans – who are still running a subvert traitorous covert operation against President Trump and the American public who elected him – Add in the traitorous clinton/obama New World Order freaks paid for by the Soros syndicate in their attempt to make America into a 3rd world country ruled by this same group of swamp creatures.

  6. Carly Reply Report comment

    July 15, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Thank you senator grassley for trying to make sense of this all. If there is going to be an investigation, let’s do both sides and make it fair. As the left would say, everybody needs to do their fair share. As far as Russia goes, stick a fork in it we are all over it except the media who have nothing better to do but sit around their tables and talk. They are overpaid mouthpieces and should get a real job.

    • Rick Reply Report comment

      July 15, 2017 at 10:59 am

      First you say “let’s do both sides and make it fair”
      then you turn around and say to forget about Russia as “we” are all over it … at least as Trump supporters huh?.
      Can’t have it both ways Carly.
      This Russian connection stinks like a hog confinement.
      In the past you were all for investigating Hillary Clinton even after over a dozen Republican investigations with nothing.
      But no with Trump & the Russkies..forget about it eh?
      How very far-right of you.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        July 17, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        You must be blind, deaf and stupid. There was all kinds of evidence against Clinton. It was buried by the FBI and his boss.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      July 15, 2017 at 11:09 am

      You nailed it again Carly