Here’s the thing about the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russia: both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin seemed to know two weeks in advance that the story was going to hit the newswires. They both telegraphed it by trying to move pieces around the chess board in advance, in the hope of minimizing the damage. Trump began arguing on Twitter in late June that there was nothing wrong with collusion. Putin recalled Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who had been at the center of collusion. And then the bombshell dropped… but Kislyak oddly wasn’t a part of the story.
When Trump and Putin began rearranging the deck chairs two weeks ago, it was clear that a collusion bombshell along the lines of the Trump Jr. story was coming. That part has proven correct. But it seemed apparent at the time that Putin had recalled Kislyak in order to get him off the table because the bombshell was going to center around him. And why wouldn’t it have? Kislyak was the key figure for Kremlin contact on the part of everyone from Michael Flynn to Jeff Sessions to Jared Kushner to even Donald Trump himself.
And yet in this Donald Trump Jr. story, as we know it so far, Sergey Kislyak is nowhere in it. This was a meeting in New York with unofficial Kremlin representatives; Kislyak was based in Washington DC and was an official Kremlin representative. He couldn’t be any further away from this story. So why did Putin hurry up and take Kislyak off the table before this bombshell landed?
It’s enough to make one wonder if Sergey Kislyak was behind this meeting after all. If he was indeed in attendance, then everyone else in the room is lying about it, but it’ll come out eventually. And even if he wasn’t in New York, we know that the Kremlin lawyer traveled to Kislyak’s home base of Washington DC immediately after she met with the Trump campaign. So now we know where to dig next.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report