As we now know those denials were flat out lies as at least five members of his team met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump officially took office.
In an attempt to mitigate the damage from last weeks revelations that several members of Trump's inner circle meet with Kislyak spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the main issue was that Trump himself had never met with any Russian government officials during the campaign...
“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.”
Well guess what?
According to a May 13, 2016 report in The Wall Street Journal Trump did have had contact with Ambassador Kislyak on April 27, right in the middle of his campaign.
Their interaction happened right before Trump delivered a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
|A picture of ambassador Kislyak (right) taking his seat before Trump's speech|
Here is a description of the meeting as reported by the The Wall Street Journal...
I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia—from a position of strength only—is possible, absolutely possible,” Mr. Trump said in a foreign-policy speech at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April. “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”
A few minutes before he made those remarks, Mr. Trump met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak. Mr. Trump warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception.
From the report it is not made clear what Trump and Kislyak discussed, or how extensive the interaction was.
But wait there's more.
In addition to the Journal's report The New York Times also recently reported that Ambassador Kislyak had attended Trump’s speech. Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, told the Times that he had introduced Trump to Kislyak in a receiving line at the hotel.
Here is the Times description of the meeting...
Mr. Simes introduced Mr. Kislyak to Mr. Trump in a receiving line last April at a foreign policy speech hosted by his center at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Mr. Kislyak was one of four ambassadors who sat in the front row for Mr. Trump’s speech at the invitation of the center. Mr. Simes noted that Mr. Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, was there, but he did not notice whether he and the ambassador spoke at that time.
I guess that officially puts to bed the lie that Trump has never met with Russian officials.
Over the last month it has come to light that top Trump campaign officials met with Russian officials. The list includes Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, hi son-in-law Jared Kushner, his campaign’s director of national security J.D. Gordon and Carter Page another member of the campaign’s national security advisory committee.
What shoe drops next? Start placing your bets.