Key GOP senator: Why was Russian lawyer tied to Trump Jr. scandal in US?
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (R-Iowa) is asking top Trump administration officials to explain why a Russian lawyer who met with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE Jr. last year was allowed in the country.  

Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking why Natalia Veselnitskaya was allowed to stay in the country when, according to court documents, she had to leave in early 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?" Grassley wrote. 

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Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort in June 2016. The meeting was supposed to be about potentially damaging information on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE, according to Trump Jr. 

Grassley is asking Tillerson if Veselnitskaya applied for a visa and for any details of a potential application, including if she had to go through any additional procedures. 

He wants DHS to say if Veselnitskaya is currently in the United States. She previously said that she was granted a parole letter to enter the United States to argue a court case. 

Grassley wants to know any restrictions or extensions of her parole, what agencies were involved in the decision, dates when she left or entered the country, and listed addresses. 

The June 2016 meeting has captured the attention of lawmakers after Trump Jr. released an email chain of his correspondence with music publicist Rob Goldstone about arranging a meeting with the Russian lawyer.

Goldstone told Trump Jr. that Veselnitskaya had "information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

But Veselnitskaya told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she did not represent the Russian government and "never had compromising information and could not have had."

The New York Times reported Sunday that Veselnitskaya has advocated for the Russian government in the past and that her clients have included "state-owned businesses and a senior government official's son."

The Kremlin has denied knowledge of the meeting and that it has any connections to Veselnitskaya.

Grassley's letter comes as his committee is investigating Russia's election interference, including potential ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Blumenthal: ‘Credible case' of obstruction of justice can be made against Trump MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.) are both calling on Trump Jr. to testify before the Judiciary Committee.