This is one we can certainly get behind. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has come in for no end of grief from Democrats and the media for having had brief interactions with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016. The interactions at the RNC have been routinely depicted as suspicious and in need of “investigation.” Indeed, they figured large in the call for Sessions to recuse himself from any decision-making role in the counterintelligence investigation of supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But Judicial Watch points out that Kislyak was at the convention in Cleveland as part of a State Department program that brought him there.
The Obama-era State Department funded and made arrangements for foreign ambassadors to attend the RNC convention. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a Trump campaign adviser, reportedly met with Kislyak at the convention and subsequently recused himself from the Russia investigation.
As Judicial Watch notes, Ambassador Kislyak has also reportedly referred to being at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. But the DNC doesn’t seem to have a record of it, and can’t confirm he was there. (A Philadelphia group that arranged a diplomats’ itinerary similar to the one in Cleveland says Kislyak did not attend.)
Judicial Watch has been trying to get records of the Obama State Department’s role in bringing Kislyak to the GOP convention, but so far without success. As JW highlights, Robert Mueller is now “seeking details” on the interactions between Sessions and Kislyak at the convention – suggesting Mueller sees this as germane to his investigation.
So Judicial Watch is now suing for the relevant State Department records.
This is a dandy idea, considering that the little one can find with a bit of Web research suggests the State Department was, indeed, closely involved in sponsoring Ambassador Kislyak at the RNC in Cleveland in July 2016.
Besides the fact that the State Department’s role was widely reported last year, records of logistics and security arrangements for the “Global Partners in Diplomacy” program for convention week are pretty clear.
An email chain from Ohio police departments, which were coordinating RNC site security, shows that the Obama State Department, via its Global Partners in Diplomacy initiative, was arranging the itinerary and transportation for the foreign diplomatic guests every day of the convention.
The guests were probably on their own for some portion of the day. But not for the event at which Sessions and Kislyak would have interacted.
Sessions was scheduled to speak at a luncheon on Wednesday, 20 July 2016: a Global Partners in Diplomacy event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, and held at the Tinkham Veale University Center at Case Western Reserve University.
The luncheon fell between a morning panel discussion on defense and national security, and an afternoon panel discussion on terrorism.
The foreign dignitaries were ferried to these 20 July events, from their lodging at the Staybridge Cleveland Mayfield Heights to the Tinkham Veale Center, on “Department of State Diplomatic Corps Motor Coaches.”
The RNC was being served by its own separate shuttle system, and the police backgrounder on the GPID itinerary noted that foreign diplomats would be able to use it to visit the convention center. However, the movements of foreign diplomats for the GPID events each day were served by the Department of State Diplomatic Corps Motor Coaches.
Jeff Sessions is listed as the “invited” speaker for the 20 July luncheon on the GPID schedule. We can’t know from this document whether the invitation was issued by a GPID representative or by the Heritage Foundation.
But the document does tell us that the Obama Department of State drove Ambassador Kislyak to the fateful GPID events on 20 July. We also know that Kislyak was invited by GPID, whose handy list of which nations had RSVP’d in the affirmative for the GPID invitation appears later in the email chain. Russia is in the list just under Haiti.
I look forward to seeing what Judicial Watch finds out about this. The skeleton of collateral information from local police coordination is interesting enough by itself. It sounds like Sessions would have had to go out of his way to avoid the State Department-delivered Ambassador Kislyak, if Sessions was speaking to a GPID-sponsored luncheon group at Tinkham Veale Center on 20 July 2016.
Meanwhile, a refresher about the photographic evidence of Sessions’ collusion with Kislyak at an event in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.