The first few months of the Donald Trump presidency were be hectic and filled with no shortage of shocking statements and head-spinning moments. There’s no surprise there. After all, this was a man who promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and basically revolutionize the way things are done in Washington. Still, many were surprised when President Trump broke new ground just the other day by meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House.
Holding a meeting with a foreign minister isn’t all that unusual, but what is unusual is that the world only found out about the meeting due to the lone Russian photographer who just happened to be there. For whatever reason, all U.S. media was excluded. This means that the job of breaking the news about the meeting was left to Russian news agency Tass, which soon had pictures of Trump and Lavrov sitting side by side and also shaking hands.
Many quickly began to question the timing of the meeting, as it seemed a bit odd for President Trump to host a prominent Russian official less than 24 hours after he fired FBI Director James Comey—the man who just happened to be leading the investigation into Russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Coincidentally, this is also the same man who also recently requested more resources to continue his investigation just a few days before he was unceremoniously shown the door after being hand-delivered a letter by the president’s former bodyguard.
Due to the investigation, many people immediately began to speculate that Comey’s firing was directly related to his looking into possible ties between Russia and Trump or his associates. In fact, Lavrov himself was even asked about Comey being fired just before he headed into his meeting with the president.
The entire Comey issue was already going to cast a large shadow over the meeting due to the investigation. This is what made it even more surprising to see pictures of Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak also in attendance with Trump and Lavrov. Of course, anyone following the investigation will probably be immediately familiar with Ambassador Kislyak as his meetings with both General Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions prior to the election have been a huge source of scandal for the Trump administration.
For his part, Attorney General Sessions was forced to recuse himself from leading the investigation after news came out that he twice met the Russian ambassador in the months leading up to the election and failed to disclose these meetings during his Senate confirmation hearing.
The story of Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn is even more damning, after US intelligence recorded him speaking with Kislyak about removing the sanctions from Russia if Trump was elected. The fact that many consider him a Russian agent who directly attempted to compromise Flynn and other Trump campaign officials makes it all the more puzzling why Trump would choose the day after firing Comey to invite Kislyak to the White House.
Of course, the president’s meeting with the two Russian officials wasn’t the first stunning moment of the day. Earlier in the morning, press had gathered outside the Oval Office expecting to bear witness to the scheduled meeting between Trump and Lavrov, only to walk in an discover that President Trump was instead meeting with Richard Nixon’s former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The fact that in the midst of the outfall of the Comey firing, one of the biggest news stories since the entire Russia scandal broke, President Trump would choose to meet with both someone so directly connected to Nixon and also someone so closely connected to the entire Russia mess is truly quite astonishing. Nonetheless, what else should we expect from a man who pledged from the beginning to do things his own way?