Trump Told Russian Officials In The Oval Office He Isn’t Concerned About Election Interference
In May 2017, President Donald Trump held a meeting with two Russian officials during which he told them he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S elections because the United States does the same thing in other countries.
According to the Washington Post, Trump’s meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the U.S, Sergey Kislyak, included Trump brushing off the severity of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S elections with comments that witnesses said were “encouraging” interference in the future.
Three former White House officials said administration officials at the time were alarmed by Trump’s words with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the point that they chose to keep a memorandum summarizing the meeting “highly restricted” so it wouldn’t get out to the public.
The encounter the president had with Russian officials in just his fourth month in office, was seen as controversial even at the time. Trump reportedly shared Israeli intelligence related to ISIS with the Russian officials and took the time to speak about how James Comey was unfit, calling him “a nut job” shortly after he fired the former FBI director amid an FBI investigation into the president.
New details on the May meeting with Russian officials were released just three days into the impeachment inquiry launched last week by House Democrats. The White House’s classification of records about Trump’s communications with foreign officials are now at the center of the inquiry, after the intelligence community whistleblower alleged that the July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was placed into a secured system reserved for the most sensitive intelligence information.
Although it’s not clear whether the May memorandum was placed into the same secured system as the July call with the president of Ukraine, it still is raising eyebrows across Washington as the White House increases efforts to limit access to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders, including phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin.