Former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who served in President Barack Obama’s administration, is backing away from accusations she had a hand in allowing Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who is at the center of Donald Trump Jr.’s email scandal, into the US.
A spokesperson for Lynch said the former attorney general “does not have any personal knowledge of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s travel,” The Hill reported Thursday evening.
“The State Department issues visas, and the Department of Homeland Security oversees entry to the United States at airports,” Lynch’s spokesperson said according to The Hill.
President Donald Trump earlier Thursday attempted to blame Obama’s Justice Department for allowing Veselnitskaya into the US in the first place, months before she met with Trump Jr. on the premise that he would receive damaging Hillary Clinton emails courtesy of the Russian government.
“Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch,” Trump said. “Now, maybe that’s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, I was surprised to hear that. She was here because of Lynch.”
Veselnitskaya was temporarily allowed into the US in fall 2015 when an earlier visa request was denied. The temporary grant was due to expire in January 2016.
Trump sought to play down the June 2016 meeting between Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort: “Most people would have taken that meeting,” Trump said. “It’s called opposition research.”
The scandal has since ballooned, after Trump Jr. made a number of conflicting statements about the meeting this week.