Michael Flynn has already resigned as national security adviser after having misled the public and members of the Trump administration about talks he held during the transition with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
And with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the news after making apparently false statements about his own meetings with Kislyak and recusing himself from further investigations into contacts between Trumpworld and Russia, the Trump administration is now disclosing an additional meeting. This one featured Kislyak, Flynn, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and was first reported by the New York Times:
Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.
It’s not at all inappropriate or unusual for members of a presidential transition’s national security team to meet with representatives of a foreign government. It is highly unusual for a president’s son-in-law to be considered a key member of the national security team, especially when the son-in-law in question has no experience in government, diplomacy, or military affairs.
Such, however, is the way of the Trump administration.
Disclosing this information preemptively rather than waiting for someone to leak it to the media appears to be an effort on the part of the Trump administration to turn over a new leaf. Had this come out as a consequence of an investigation, it would look much more insidious than it does as part of the White House doing routine disclosure around a story that it knows people are interested in.
The involvement of Kushner in the meeting does, however, raise the question of his own financial conflicts of interest — including foreign and, yes, Russian investors in his companies — which are potentially extensive and at least somewhat separate from the questions around Trump’s own businesses.