posted at 10:01 pm on March 2, 2017 by John Sexton
The entire Republican party appears to have met with the Russian ambassador but the news is being dribbled out a few names at a time. The latest revelation from USA Today indicates J.D. Gordon and Carter Page met with Ambassador Kislyak in July [emphasis added]:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not the only member of President Trump’s campaign who spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a diplomacy conference connected to the Republican National Convention in July. At least two more members of the Trump campaign’s national security officials also spoke with Kislyak at the event, and several more Trump national security advisers were in attendance.
It’s unknown what the Trump campaign officials who spoke with the ambassador – J.D. Gordon and Carter Page – discussed with him. Those who took part in the events in Cleveland said it is not unusual for presidential campaign teams to interact with diplomats.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Gen. Flynn and Jared Kushner met with Ambassador Kislyak in December:
Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.
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.
Each new revelation that someone connected to the Trump campaign met with the Russian ambassador is being treated as significant news. Eventually, the Times does explain why this is supposed to matter [again, emphasis added]:
It is common and not improper for transition officials to meet with foreign officials. But all meetings between Trump associates and Russians are now significant as the F.B.I. investigates Russian interference in the American election and whether anyone close to Mr. Trump’s campaign was involved.
So the Russians were up to no good, something leading Democrats scoffed at just a few years ago. Also, still distinct from that, people on the Trump team were having “normal” and “not unusual” meetings with the Russian ambassador. What is lacking still is any evidence of quid pro quo. That’s the story Democrats are desperately hoping is behind all this, but the evidence just isn’t there, at least not so far.
The FBI could certainly announce tomorrow that it has found something incriminating and that would change the ballgame. Until then, stories hyping “common” meetings with the Russian ambassador are adding heat to the story without adding much light.