Spy Or Diplomat? Meet Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, The Most Radioactive Man In Washington
The following is an excerpt from OWEN MATTHEWS AND MATTHEW COOPER | June 22, 2017 | Newsweek.com |
The meeting was apparently jovial—though we have to take the Russians’ word for it. On May 10, Donald Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, in the Oval Office. But the American president barred the White House press corps from the meeting. Footage released by the official Russian news agency, Tass, showed the three men joking and laughing, and according to leaked accounts of the meeting, Trump bragged that he had “just fired the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was crazy, a real nut job.” The reason? “I faced great pressure because of Russia,” Trump reportedly told his visitors from Moscow. “That’s taken off.”
Trump was clearly mistaken. Far from taking the pressure off, firing FBI Director James Comey the day before his meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak intensified the bureau’s scrutiny into contacts between Russia and the Trump team—and triggered howls from congressional Democrats over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 elections. In June, not long after Comey testified to a Senate committee, saying he leaked documents so that Russiagate special counsel Robert Mueller would investigate whether Trump was trying to stymie the investigation, Washington buzzed with reports that Mueller was doing just that.
Allegedly improper contacts with Kislyak form at least three strands of the Russiagate scandal—the ambassador’s meetings with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; with national security adviser Michael Flynn; and with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump’s alleged attempts to cover up his Russia ties make “Watergate pale, really in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told an audience at Australia’s National Press Club in early June. “I am very concerned about the assault on our institutions coming from both an external source—read Russia—and an internal source, the president himself.”
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