Remember a few weeks ago, when Donald Trump began panicking on Twitter about ‘collusion tapes’ and Russia just happened to simultaneously put its collusion-tainted Ambassador Sergey Kislyak out to pasture? He even had his going away party last week. Now Kislyak is suddenly meeting with the State Department today. The official line is that it’s about the return of two seized Russian compounds (link), but we’re not buying it. The timing is off, and you don’t bring in retired people for those kinds of things. So what’s the meeting really about?
While the meeting makes no sense, there is no question that it is indeed happening as we speak. Josh Lederman of the Associated Press tweeted “Ambassador Kislyak and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov arrive at State Department to meet with Tom Shannon” while including a photo of the three men (link). Lucian Kim of NPR quoted Lederman’s tweet and added “A Trump administration official is meeting 2 Kremlin-connected Russians deep inside the State Department.” (link). But why is this happening, and who is Tom Shannon?
Shannon is the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and he’s had the job since February of 2016. In other words, he’s an Obama appointee. It’s remarkable that he’s still at the State Department considering how many career people there were shown the door when Donald Trump arrived, and most of them still have yet to be replaced by anyone. But while there’s a mystery as to why Tom Shannon is meeting with a Russian delegation today, there’s even more mystery as to why Kislyak is part of that delegation.
Some will posit that Kislyak may be fearing for his own safety at the hands of the murderous Vladimir Putin, and is seeking asylum in the United States. But that seems unlikely, considering that the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister is also in the meeting. Others will suggest that this meeting is a plot between Trump and Russia to bury the collusion scandal. But if so, why would Trump be relying on an Obama appointee to pull it off? We don’t know what’s going on here. But things keep getting stranger by the hour.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report