WH Spox: On Russia, Trump ‘Knows What His Involvement Was And That’s Zero’

President Donald Trump smiles as he participates in a round table discussion during a tour of Saint Andrew Catholic School, Friday, March 3, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP

A White House spokesperson said the the President had “zero” involvement when asked whether Trump knew about his staff’s reported interactions with Russian nationals.

“The big point here is the President himself knows what his involvement was and that’s zero,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, according to a pool report.

“And I think that he’s the primary person that should be held responsibility [sic] and he had no interaction and I think that’s what the story should be focused on,” she said.

The statement came in response to a question described by one pool reporter as “whether POTUS has a grasp of all the interactions of his staff and Russia.”

A series of Trump’s affiliates in recent weeks have admitted to meeting or speaking with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the campaign: ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner; and Carter Page, who was a member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory team.

On Thursday, another adviser who admitted to meeting with Ambassador Kislyak alongside Page, J.D. Gordon, told CNN that Trump himself had personally advocated for the Republican Party to change its official platform’s stance on Ukraine.

Gordon was the Trump campaign’s national security policy representative at the Republican National Convention, where the platform is decided.

According to CNN’s Jim Acosta, Gordon claimed that Trump had said he did not “want to go to World War III over Ukraine.”

The party’s official platform ultimately replaced “providing lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces with providing “appropriate assistance.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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