Update: A Politico investigation in September later found that the issue of Max, the French men’s magazine where Melania Trump appeared, was published in early 1997, contrary to earlier media reports.
Melania Trump on Wednesday released a letter from her immigration attorney in which he denies that she had ever broken visa laws and worked illegally in the U.S.
“It has been suggested by various media outlets that in 1995 Mrs. Trump illegally worked as a model in the United States while on a visitor visa. Following a review of her relevant immigration paperwork, I can unequivocally state that these allegations are not supported by the record, and are therefore completely without merit,” attorney Michael J. Wildes writes in the letter.
Wildes is managing partner at New York-based law firm Wildes & Weinberg P.C. He said he is an attorney who was admitted in good standing before the bars in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. While he said he has never previously represented Donald Trump’s wife, he said he has represented several of Trump’s companies, including The Miss Universe Organization and Trump Models.
The reports Wildes referred to came after the New York Post published nude photos of Melania Trump from a photo shoot that it claimed took place in 1995 in the U.S. for French men’s magazine Max, which is now defunct. According to several media reports, the issue featuring Trump was published in January 1996. The photos raised questions about whether she was using a tourist visa rather than an H-1B visa, which is required for employment in the U.S.
Wildes, ignoring the reported publication date of the magazine issue, said these allegations are not only “untrue,” but also “impossible” because he said she was never in the U.S. in 1995.
The first time she entered the U.S., Wildes said, was on August 27, 1996 through a B-1/B-2 visa, which is used temporarily for business, tourism, pleasure or just visiting. She then received her first H-1B visa from the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia on Oct. 18, 1996, he said. This visa would have authorized employment to be a model in the U.S. Between that month and 2001, she was issued five H-1B visas and became a lawful permanent resident or “green card” holder on March 19, 2001, he said.
“In reality, through an interview with Mrs. Trump, we ascertained that the photo shoot in question did not occur until after she was admitted to the United States in H-1B visa status in October 1996,” Wildes wrote in the letter.
Wildes also said that while foreign workers are usually issued H-1B visas for up to three years, but he said that Foreign Affairs Manual used by U.S. consulates at the time issued that type of visa to Slovenian citizens for only one year.
She became a U.S. citizen in July 2006.
“I am pleased to enclose a letter from my immigration attorney which states that with 100% certainty, I correctly went through the legal process when arriving in the USA,” she tweeted Wednesday, with the letter.
In addition to the New York Post claiming the photo shoot happened in 1995, a biography written about her by two Slovenian authors claimed she moved to New York in 1995, according to Politico.
“Melania Trump: The Inside Story,” said that she first met another model in New York in the middle of 1995.
“In 1995 she started coming to the USA according to the jobs she was getting at fashion agencies,” one of the biography’s authors told Politico. “We don’t know the exact dates of those before she officially settled in New York but her visits prior to that were temporary business opportunities that she had as a model.”
According to Wildes’ biography on his law firm’s website, he served as the Democratic mayor of Englewood, New Jersey from 2003 to 2006 and he is “nationally recognized in the Democratic Party as a leading fundraiser for Congressional and Senate candidates throughout the United States” including Hillary Clinton, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, and former Sen. Joe Lieberman.
The letter comes more than a month after Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, said his wife would hold a news conference to address the reports “in the next couple weeks.” She never did.
Melania Trump has largely been absent from the campaign trail since the Republican National Convention, when she was accused of plagiarizing her convention speech from first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She also had to take down her website after a biography in the RNC’s program this summer incorrectly claimed she had received a college degree in design and architecture at the university in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
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