It looks like the only fake news President Donald Trump is reading is coming at him from the right.
According to BuzzFeed News, Trump appears to have gotten wind of a conspiracy theory attempting to link Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer Donald Trump, Jr. met with last summer to ostensibly provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, to the Obama administration — and may even believe that she was planted as a part of some “Democratic plot” against him.
The exhaustively researched and detailed BuzzFeed report reveals the origins of the conspiracy theory — an article in the Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump blog known for sharing conspiracy theories.
“Well Look Here: Russian Lawyer Veselnitskaya is Pictured with Obama Ambassador to Russia — 8 Days After Trump Jr. Meeting,” the Gateway Pundit’s headline reads. The photo in question is of Veselnitskaya sitting behind Michael McFaul, Obama’s former Russia ambassador.
As her career and immigration records suggest, the lawyer was likely at that hearing as part of her work against Russian sanctions — but that didn’t stop the Drudge Report, Infowars, alt-righter Mike Cernovich and others from suddenly linking Veselnitskaya to Obama, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
The theory then made its’ way to the mouth of the president. In a speech with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, Trump made the bold claim that “she was here because of Lynch,” who was AG at the time of Veselnitskaya’s multiple denied visa requests and subsequent 10-day “parole” entry into the U.S.
“Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch,” Trump said during the speech. “Now, maybe that’s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago. So she was here because of Lynch.”
Trump says Russian attorney who met with his son was in US because of AG Lynch, feeding conspiracy theory she was part of Democrat plot pic.twitter.com/8HOFT2eqky
— Salvador Hernandez (@SalHernandez) July 13, 2017
After Trump reiterated the claim to a group of pool reporters after his speech with Macron, Lynch released her own statement setting the record straight.
“Attorney General Lynch, as the former head of the Justice Department, does not have any personal knowledge of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s travel,” Robert Raben, Lynch’s spokesperson, said. “The State Department issues visas, and the Department of Homeland Security oversees entry to the United States at airports.”