Donald Trump tried to push Russian contacts to make a secret request for a meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2013, newly released Senate testimony shows.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released testimony that Trump pressed for the meeting ahead of the Miss Universe contest, which was being held in Russia that year. The testimony came from Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, one of the Russians in attendance at a June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower in which a Kremlin-connected lawyer offered to give Trump’s campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton that had been stolen by Russia. As Mother Jones noted, the testimony painted a picture of Trump “fixated” on meeting with Putin and crushed when the Russian president did not have time for him.
As Mother Jones reported, Kaveladze told the committee in March that he witnessed another Russian oligarch make a phone call to one of Putin’s top aides to secretly request a meeting between Trump and Putin. The meeting was being arranged at the direct request of Donald Trump, he testified.
As the report noted, Donald Trump made public hints that he wanted to meet with Putin, even tweeting, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow—if so, will he become my new best friend?”
The Mother Jones report added that Donald Trump appeared to be “fixated” on the idea of meeting with Putin and was “bitterly disappointed” when Putin said he would could not attend the Miss Universe contest and would not be able to meet with the real estate magnate. Trump then told an associate to spread a rumor that Putin had indeed stopped by for a visit, the report added.
Trump was reportedly hoping that the Miss Universe contest could open doors to a major development deal in Moscow.
Trump has stoked controversy in the past for his close relationship with Vladimir Putin, despite Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Earlier this year, Trump ignored the advisement of his national security team and called Putin to congratulate him on his presidential re-election.
Donald Trump has also been criticized for his reluctance to enforce new sanctions on Russia that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. As the New York Times noted, Trump even contradicted U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley after she announced that the U.S. would be enforcing the new sanctions on Russia.