Following the Wednesday night revelation Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russia’s U.S. ambassador on two separate occasions, reports from multiple sources Thursday point to further meetings between Trump campaign associates and Kremlin officials in 2016.
Most recently, White House communications director Hope Hicks told the New York Times then-incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and top campaign adviser Jared Kushner met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December at Trump Tower to “establish a line of communication” with the Kremlin.
Trump administration officials originally denied Gen. Flynn ever physically met with the Russian ambassador.
Gen. Flynn later spoke with Kislyak on multiple occasions Dec. 29–30 after Russian sanctions were announced by Obama’s State Department for suspected disruption of the U.S. presidential election. Penalties included the expulsion of 35 diplomats thought to be Kremlin spies.
Later on Thursday evening, Politico reported three Trump campaign officials, including then-Sen. Sessions, met with Kislyak at a July 20 luncheon in Cleveland on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. Trump policy advisers Carter Page and J.D. Gordon were also present at the meeting, the former having just returned from a trip to Moscow.
“Carter [Page] told (Kislyak) we should have a new chapter of U.S.-Russia relations that build on mutual respect and common goals and that there is no need to keep up this hostility,” Gordon said of the July meeting.
Page notably spent three years in Moscow as a managing partner for Houston-based private equity firm Global Energy Capital, advising Russian-owned gas company Gazprom on investment deals. According to a former Obama White House staffer, Page was one of Trump’s advisers who, along with Flynn, promised Russian officials a softer U.S. approach to relations once the new administration took office.
American intelligence agencies, including the FBI, investigated Page’s relationship with Russia in September after suspicion arose that the foreign policy adviser had spoke to the Kremlin privately about nullifying U.S. sanctions. Page’s name was also mentioned in the infamous Trump-Russia dossier authored by a UK intelligence officer.
When asked about his recent travels to Russia on Thursday, Page got snippy with the questioner and denied talking to the FBI about any incidents.
“Go ask the Clinton campaign and associates about their illegal activities,” he whined. “That’s a real story for you, as opposed to this same fake news theme.”
The former Trump adviser wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey in September calling the investigation a “complete waste of time”, and said his July 2016 commencement speech as Mocow’s New Economic School was strictly academic in nature. Page went on to deny meeting with any sanctioned Russian officials.
Later Thursday night in an interview on MSNBC, Page admitted meeting Kislyak at the GOP convention, but said he never met with the Russian ambassador “anywhere outside of Cleveland”.
[New York Times] [Politico] [Photo courtesy Reuters via AEI.org]