President Donald Trump said on multiple occasions that he had no contact with the Russian government during his presidential campaign, but two resurfaced reports from 2016 state that he did meet with a Russian official on at least one occasion.
A Newsmax report from May 2016 stated that Trump spoke to Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, at a VIP reception with three other foreign ambassadors in April of that year, on the same day that he gave a foreign policy speech, which Kislyak also attended.
The Wall Street Journal released a similar report at the time confirming the meeting and stating that Trump "warmly greeted" Kislyak and the other ambassadors, according to AmericaBlog.
"I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia -- from a position of strength only -- is possible, absolutely possible," Trump said in the foreign policy speech at the time, according to Newsmax. "Some say the Russians won't be reasonable. I intend to find out."
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AmericaBlog states that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign Director of National Security JD Gordon have all had contact with Kislyak.
Trump has said that he had no communication with the country's officials, with the exception of two conversations he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin after election day.
"Russia is a ruse," Trump said at a February press conference. "I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia … I spoke to Putin twice … I told you this … I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does."
The president's spokespeople have backed him up.
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"There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign," Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks said on Nov. 11, 2016, according to AmericaBlog.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer stated on Feb. 15 that no members of the campaign had contact with the Kremlin during the transition period, beyond anything that they have been "very clear" about, such as the interactions concerning Flynn, for which the general stepped down from his advisory role.
The news comes amid reports that Russian government-backed news outlets, formerly friendly to Trump, have released a high volume of stories critical to his administration, notes Politico.