During a gaggle aboard Air Force One with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, en route to Orlando, Sanders was asked why the Trump administration is just now revealing the meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak that took place at Trump Tower.
“Why is the administration just now telling about the meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower—seems a little late given all this stuff about whether Flynn had conversations with him,” Sanders was asked according to a White House pool report sent to PoliticusUSA.
“Look I think this again was a courtesy meeting, they were part of over a hundred different meetings during the transition. This wasn’t a secret it was just,” Sanders tried to explain.
“Frankly I didn’t know about it and so I don’t think anybody saw it as a big deal, there was no policy discussion. It was an introductory courtesy meeting which we did literally hundreds over the course of the transition,” Sanders said, as if the Russians had not been busted for helping President Trump win the election.
“How many other ambassadors?” the press tried to clarify.
“I would have to get a specific number, but there were dozens of other ambassadors,” Sanders replied. Were those ambassadors also smuggled in a back door? We’ll have to wait for the intelligence community to drop more details on Kislyak’s visit to Trump Tower, as they did on AG Jeff Sessions’ private meeting in his Senate office with Kislyak, because we will not be getting accurate information from the Trump White House unless it’s forced.
Asked if the Russian ambassador used a different entrance to get into Trump tower, given that the pool staked out at Trump Tower didn’t see him, Sanders told the pool she was not sure and would check.
The Trump White House kept the December meeting at Trump Tower a secret. At the time, the press was staked out in the lobby covering what was functioning as one of two transition headquarters, and so every visit was public.
Yet the Russian Ambassador’s visit, a man known by U.S. intelligence officers as one of Russia’s top spies and recruiter of spies, was somehow kept hidden. Thus the press concluded yesterday that team Trump must have sneaked him in via a hidden entrance (insert inevitable sneaked versus snuck debate here).
Kislyak wasn't caught on CSPAN camera for Trump Tower meeting w/Kushner and Flynn in December, so was deliberately brought in the back way
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) March 2, 2017
The Trump White House expects the press to buy the notion that all of these close advisers’ contacts and ties to Russia are simply a coincidence, even though Russia interfered in the U.S. election to help Trump win and the contacts took place around the time Trump won the Republican primary and continued on, taking a heated tone the day President Obama announced his sanctions on Russia as punishment for their interference with our elections.
They also want the public to buy that they lied about all of these meetings and denied them and covered them up simply because they forgot.
On the one hand, they complain about the investigations into their ties to Russia and on the other hand, they ask the public to believe that even with all of these investigations, they just forgot about that time the Russian spy came to Trump Tower through the back entrance.
For a group who convicted Hillary Clinton sans evidence, the Trump White House are awfully skilled at pretending actual evidence doesn’t exist.
“Not sure.” The Trump White House is just “not sure” why cameras didn’t capture the top Russian spy going into the previously undisclosed secret meeting at Trump Tower with Michael Flynn, who resigned due to his secret contacts with Russia (it didn’t occur to the White House to mention this meeting then?), and Trump’s son-in-law and close personal adviser Jared Kushner.
Meanwhile, Vice President Pence ignored shouted questions from poolers Friday, including, according to the report sent to PoliticusUSA, “When did you find out Mr. Sessions talked to the Russians?”
Donald Trump’s secrets are being slowly and ever so painfully leaked to the media. So the conflict between what they deny and then what comes out is becoming a regular pattern. Trump White House denies something; intel is dropped proving it’s a lie. Trump White House moves the goal posts, Trump throws public fit on Twitter; intel is dropped again.
This is how things work when one of the two major political parties spits in patriotism’s face to cover for its president. And who knows who else.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.