Seriously, y’all. This Trump-Russia saga has turned into some Days of Our Lives-type soap opera with potential real-life consequences. Earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally recused himself from any investigations into possible Russian ties within the Trump campaign. Sessions denied discussing any political matters during his meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but (as if on cue) the New York Times has dropped news of a meeting between Kislyak and two other Trump associates — Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner — that took place in December.
But wait, there’s a twist here, since this information comes from the White House, which must want to ward off an inevitable leak. Flynn, of course, resigned after lying about his phone calls with Kislyk. The insertion of Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law and a current senior advisor — in the matter presents a new wrinkle, and the NY Times reveals that this meeting was set at Trump Tower to “establish a line of communication” between Russia and the Trump administration:
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.
But the extent and frequency of their contacts remains unclear, and the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower adds to the emerging picture of how the relationship between Mr. Trump’s incoming team and Moscow was evolving to include some of the president-elect’s most trusted advisers. The White House has repeatedly sought to play down any connections with Mr. Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged this week that he had met twice with him during the campaign, despite previous denials.
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks confirmed this story to the NY Times, as it was “previously undisclosed.” This must be a new tactic from the administration to air out anything that might potentially blow up in their faces later. After all, the White House was reportedly surprised to hear of Sessions’ meetings from the media, and they can’t afford any more stumbles right now (because Trump recently “repaired” his image with a teleprompted speech).
Although it’s not improper for an incoming administration to hold meetings with foreign ambassadors, the NY Times makes pointed mention of how “all meetings between Trump associates and Russians are now significant.” Indeed, given the ongoing intelligence probes into the election hacking and every other bizarro part of this story, every meeting matters.
(Via New York Times)