Politics

Report: Trump Met Russian Ambassador During Campaign

| by Michael Allen

President Donald Trump reportedly met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a VIP reception in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2016, before giving a foreign policy speech as a Republican candidate.

According to Americablog, both The Wall Street Journal and Newsmax reported the April meeting in May 2016 which, if true, would contradict repeated denials by Trump and his aides.

The Wall Street Journal noted that Trump "warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception."

Newsmax reported, "Trump met with Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, at a VIP reception along with three other foreign ambassadors."

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According to The New York Times, Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, introduced Kislyak to Trump in a receiving line at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

After reportedly meeting with Kislyak and the other dignitaries, Trump gave his foreign policy speech: "I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia -- from a position of strength only -- is possible, absolutely possible ... Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out," reported Newsmax.

The New York Times reported in February that Trump said reports that his campaign aides and associates had Russian contacts were "a joke" and "fake news put out by the media."

"Russia is a ruse," Trump added. "I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does."

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The Huffington Post notes that five of Trump's team members did meet with Kislyak before Trump was sworn in as president.

Most notably, Michael Flynn ended up resigning as Trump's national security adviser over his undisclosed meeting with Kislyak, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigations of Russia and the Trump team after it was revealed that Sessions himself had met with Kislyak twice in 2016.

After the Flynn story broke in February, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied any Russian contacts were made during the campaign: "This is a nonstory because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened," noted The New York Times.

After Sessions was outed, Huckabee Sanders said on March 3: "The big point here is the president himself knows what his involvement was, and that’s zero. And I think that he’s the primary person that should be held responsible, and he had no interaction, and I think that’s what the story should be focused on," reports The Huffington Post.

With the story now focused on Trump reportedly meeting Kislyak in April 2016, Huckabee Sanders recently denied that it was an actual meeting to The Huffington Post:

The National Interest hosted Mr. Trump’s foreign policy speech and pre-speech reception. Several ambassadors were present. Mr. Trump was at the reception for about five minutes and then went immediately to the podium.

We have no recollection of who he may have shaken hands with at the reception and we were not responsible for inviting or vetting guests. To state a "meeting" took place is disingenuous and extremely misleading.

Sources: Americablog, Newsmax, The New York Times (2) (3), The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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