Photo contradicts Pelosi’s statement about not meeting Kislyak
By Kyle Cheney
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that she’s never met with the current Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
“Not with this Russian ambassador, no,” Pelosi told POLITICO’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer during a Playbook interview, when asked if she’d ever met with the Russian envoy.
But a file photo from Pelosi’s 2010 meeting with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev shows Kislyak at the table across from Pelosi — then House speaker — and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Medvedev had been in the country for a meeting with President Barack Obama a day earlier and stopped in on Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders as well.
Asked to square Pelosi’s comments with the photo of the meeting, a spokesman said that Pelosi had simply meant she never had a solo meeting with Kislyak.
“Of course, that’s what she meant,” said the spokesman, Drew Hammill. “She has never had a private one-on-one with him.”
No one on either side of the aisle has suggested it’s improper for lawmakers to meet with foreign diplomats. Rather, Democrats have slammed Sessions for failing to disclose those contacts, which came at a time Russia was increasingly believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Pelosi’s explanation is similar to one offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill Thursday, after she swiped at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for privately meeting with Kislyak in 2016 and failing to disclose it when asked about communications with Russians during his confirmation proceedings in January. Sessions has emphasized that meetings with ambassadors are common for lawmakers and that he met with Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, tweeted that in her 10 years on the Armed Services Committee, she had received “No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever.”
But after confronted with a pair of her own tweets from 2013 and 2015 in which she described a meeting and call with Kislyak, McCaskill walked back her comment.
“The Russian ambassador never called me. The Russian ambassador has never asked for a meeting with me,” McCaskill told reporters, adding, “you cannot say that having a one-on-one meeting with the Russian ambassador was a common thing to occur.”