In a bombshell report published Friday evening, The Washington Post revealed that in his May 10, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Donald Trump told the two top Russian officials that “he was unconcerned” about Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election.
The Washington Post also reported that an official memo documenting the meeting, and likely Trump’s remarks, was restricted to an unusually small number of people, and may have been placed on an ultra-secure National Security Council server reserved for America’s most highly classified secrets, though whether the memo was placed there remained “not clear.”
The Trump White House practice of hiding records of the president’s conversations with foreign leaders on the top secret server was revealed in a whistleblower complaint released to the public on Thursday. As The Inquisitr reported, a memo recording Trump’s July 25 conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was concealed on the server, as were records of Trump calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Saudi Arabian ruler Mohammed bin Salman.
The memo with details of Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, however, also appears to have been concealed from special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into Russian covert aid to Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to legal expert Dahlia Lithwick in an analysis published by Slate.
Remember right after Trump fired Comey, he met w/ Russians Lavrov & Kislyak in our Oval Office, only allowed in a Russian photog, passed classified intel, & never looked more relaxed or pleased. Is this a man not serving or colluding with the Russians? Do you believe your eyes? pic.twitter.com/rBJVcIadBf
— Steven Beschloss (@StevenBeschloss) March 29, 2019
As Lithwick notes, Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was a major subject of Mueller’s investigation, because at that meeting, which came less than 24 hours after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey — who was then leading the Trump-Russia investigation — Trump told the two Russians that firing Comey had relieved him of “great pressure.”
And on the following day, Trump gave a nationally televised interview to NBC News in which he admitted that his firing of Comey and his desire to end the Russia investigation were connected.
Though in his report, Mueller detailed certain aspects of the May 10 meeting, he somehow failed to learn that Trump had told the Russians that he was “unconcerned” about their country’s attack on the election — an attack that, Mueller and other investigators have determined, was designed to help elect Trump.
According to Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes, the FBI also missed it in its counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, meaning that the memo of the meeting was likely withheld from FBI investigators as well.
“None of us had any idea. Multiple people had opportunity and patriotic reason to tell us,” an FBI investigator told Wittes. “Instead, silence.”