Melania Trump, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on Wednesday once again denied having worked in the U.S. without authorization, and provided a letter from an immigration attorney ― but no other documentation ― in an attempt to prove it.
The former model first tried to bat down the allegations in August, after Politico reported there were discrepancies between her story about coming to the United States and other published reports. Her husband is critical of both unauthorized immigration and legal foreign worker visas ― including the type that Melania now definitively says she held.
The Trump campaign promised to hold a press conference on the controversy when it began nearly six weeks ago, but never did. Melania producing a letter from a lawyer is the first substantive response to allegations that she worked as a model in the U.S. in 1995, before she had legal status to work.
“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,” Melania wrote in a tweet accompanying an image of the letter.
In a letter Melania posted to Twitter on Wednesday, attorney Michael J. Wildes denied that she had done anything wrong. He wrote that Melania “never worked in the United States in 1995 because she was was never in the United States in 1995” (emphasis his).
Melania first entered the U.S. on Aug. 27, 1996, on a visitor visa and received a work visa on Oct. 18 of that year, he said.
But the New York Post published photos in July that show Melania in the January 1996 issue of now-defunct French magazine Max ― images that the photographer said were shot in New York City in 1995. The photographer told the New York Post on Wednesday that he misspoke, backing up Melania’s timeline instead. He said the photo session took place in 1996 and appeared in the magazine in 1997.
Wildes said that “the allegation that she participated in a photo shoot in 1995 is not only untrue, it is impossible.” An interview with Melania “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,” he added.
Wildes said Melania received five H-1B visas between October 1996 and October 2001, which each allowed her to work for one year. H-1B visas typically last for three years; however, Wildes said this is not true for citizens of Slovenia, where Melania was born. Wildes’ claim raises another important issue: Melania has previously said that she returned to Europe “every few months” to get her visa stamped, something she would not need to do in the situation her lawyer described.
Melania became a legal permanent resident on March 19, 2001, after applying in 2000 as “a model of ‘extraordinary ability,’” Wildes wrote. Individuals ― typically public figures, artists, athletes or others who can prove they have national or international acclaim of some kind ― can self-petition for a green card by demonstrating “extraordinary ability.” Melania has said she became a U.S. citizen in 2006.
Wildes said he reviewed news reports and Melania’s documents to make his assessments, adding that he has not represented Melania in the past but that he has represented companies that are currently or were previously owned by Donald Trump.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services cannot typically disclose an individual’s immigration files because of privacy restrictions, an official said, so it’s difficult to verify her claims.
The Trump campaign has not been forthcoming with information until now ― mostly offering broad denials that Melania violated immigration law.
The campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether it will hold a press conference or release documents to back up Wildes’ letter.
This article has been updated with later comments from the photographer involved in Melania Trump’s Max magazine shoot.