A report that President Donald Trump briefly met Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign is recirculating this week amid renewed scrutiny of contacts Trump staffers had with Russian officials before the election.
Though it garnered little attention when it was published in May 2016, a Wall Street Journal report noted that Trump “warmly greeted” Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors before a VIP reception at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., held ahead of a foreign policy speech. During that April address, Trump called for an “easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia.”
White House officials told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that the meeting was little more than a cursory hello and that Trump attended the reception for just five minutes. But the encounter breaks with the Trump team’s insistence that the President had “zero” contact with Russian officials during the 2016 race.
At least five Trump allies, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, met with Kislyak before Inauguration Day. National security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign last month for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Kislyak during the transition, in which they reportedly discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia.