For months, Donald Trump has claimed repeatedly that he has had no contact with Russian officials as a presidential candidate. He was lying.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Trump personally met with the Russian ambassador and other Russian officials on April 27, 2016, just before a major foreign policy speech.
The report was little-noticed at the time but was recently picked up by AMERICABlog News, reported the meeting last year.
Prior to his foreign policy remarks, then candidate 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.
Ambassador Kislyak was seated in the front row. It was an invitation-only event, according to multiple news reports.
At the event, Trump used the speech to call for warmer relations with Russia.
“I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength only — is possible, absolutely possible,” Trump said. “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”
Russia was pleased with his speech, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
Weeks later, the Trump campaign approved foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s trip to Moscow to give a July 7 speech before Russian officials, according to a former campaign adviser, Politico reported Tuesday. The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because he has not been authorized to discuss internal campaign matters.
The trip is now a focus of congressional and FBI investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has repeatedly insisted that neither he nor anyone on his campaign was in contact with Russia during the election.
“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia,” Trump said during a February 16 press conference. He said he contacts with Russia were limited to talking twice to Vladimir Putin after election day.
On February 20, Trump spokesperson Sarah Sanders flatly declared that the Trump campaign had “no contacts” with Russia.
We’ve since learned that at least four members of the Trump campaign — Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and J.D. Gordon — talked with Russian officials during the campaign.
Sessions, now the Attorney General, recused himself from any investigation of the Trump campaigns contacts with Russia after he falsely told the Judiciary Committee he had not met with any Russian officials.
Trump’s own meeting with Kislyak raises further questions about the nature of the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. But the source said that “a flurry of ‘earth-shattering’ revelations will surface in the next coming weeks.”