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Kommersant Photo via AP

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016, was initially granted special access into the U.S. by President Obama's Justice Department, according to a report from The Hill.

How it happened: Veselnitskaya was granted limited "special immigration parole" by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to defend Russian businessman Denis Katsyv in a federal forfeiture case. The Hill confirmed she was in the country from October 2015 to early January 2016, but officials "could not immediately explain" how she was still in the U.S. for her meeting with Trump Jr.

The Magnitsky Act, a 2012 human rights law against Russia, was Veselnitskaya's primary focus during most of her time in the U.S. Both she and Trump Jr. said this was the main topic of their meeting in June, despite the original pretense of discussing information on Hillary Clinton.

Go deeper

8 Senate Democrats vote against adding $15 minimum wage to COVID relief

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Eight Democratic senators on Friday voted against Sen. Bernie Sanders' amendment to ignore a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian and add a $15 minimum wage provision to the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

The state of play: The vote was held open for hours on Friday afternoon — even after every senator had voted — due to a standoff in negotiations over the next amendments that the Senate will take up.

CDC: Easing mask mandates led to higher COVID cases and deaths

Customer at a supermarket chain in Austin, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Easing mask restrictions and on-site dining have increased COVID-19 cases and deaths, according to a study out Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The report's findings converge with actions from governors this week easing mask mandates and announcing plans to reopen nonessential businesses like restaurants.

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