Donald Trump has repeatedly denied having any meetings as a presidential candidate with Russian officials. He lied.
In light of persistent and ongoing concerns about his campaign's ties to Russia, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed he had met with no Russian officials while he was a candidate for president.
However, two reports from early 2016 confirm Trump did in fact meet in person with Russian Ambassador Ivanovich Kislyak during the presidential campaign. Sarah Kogan first brought one of the pieces to light:
— Swick (@swhitkog) March 7, 2017
John Aravosis, Editor of AmericaBlog, linked the above Newsmax report with a report by the Wall Street Journal about the same event:
— John Aravosis (@aravosis) March 7, 2017
This meeting between Kislyak and Trump took place at an invitation-only event at which Trump gave a speech promising to seek better relations with Russia if he were elected president. Kislyak was seated in the front row during the speech. Kislyak is the same Russian official who communicated with both Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Both Flynn and Sessions lied about their interactions with Kislyak, leading to Flynn's forced resignation and Sessions' recusal under pressure from any investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Kislyak is not just the Russian Ambassador to the United States in Washington, DC. He has also been characterized by some as Russia's "top spy recruiter":
Evan Perez just said it on CNN, so I suppose I can here: Kislyak wasn't just ambassador, he was Russia's "top spy recruiter" in D.C.: SVR.
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) March 2, 2017
As recently as his press conference just last month, Trump again vehemently claimed, "Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia." In addition, he asserted two telephone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the election were his only contacts with Russian officials.
Trump has repeatedly denied any connections between his presidential campaign and the Russian government, calling concerns about such ties "fake news":
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
To re-cap: Trump has denied members of his team had any interactions with Russian officials, and we have since discovered Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Flynn, and Sessions all did. Trump has denied he himself has anything to do with Russia or has even spoken to people from Russia. He lied.
The need for an independent special prosecutor and/or independent commission to investigate ties between Trump and his campaign and the Russian government and discern whether there was collusion has never been more clear.