WH: Schumer Having Drinks with Putin Not News, But a Trump Volunteer Bumping into a Russian Ambassador Is?

By Melanie Arter | March 3, 2017 | 3:49pm EST
Former Trump Foreign Policy Adviser Carter Page (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday questioned the newsworthiness of a Trump campaign volunteer bumping into Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak at a July conference attended by potentially 80 foreign ambassadors.

Sanders was referring to reports that Trump’s former foreign policy adviser Carter Page spoke with the ambassador at the "Global Partners in Diplomacy" conference sponsored by the Heritage Foundation at the Republican National Convention in Cincinnati in July.

The Associated Press reports that Page spoke with Kislyak at the same event where then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who was working in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, held the first of two conversations with Kislyak.

Page said in a statement that he “never did anything improper in my activities related to Russia, both last year and throughout the quarter century that I have been traveling to that country."

Sanders was responding to a reporter’s question about whether President Donald Trump thinks Sessions’ recusal from any investigation into Russia’s meddling with the election was enough.

“And after so many revelations on the subject at what point is there a ‘there there’ -- if there is so much out there on these interactions between campaign advisers and the Russian ambassador?” the reporter asked.

“Please explain to me how volunteers meeting at a conference where nearly 80 ambassadors attended is a story. I guess it’s kind of lost on me where that would be newsworthy in any capacity. I mean [Senate Democratic leader] Chuck Schumer sitting and having drinks with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and that’s not a news story, but apparently a volunteer for a campaign bumping into one at a conference where there’s again dozens of other ambassadors is newsworthy,” Sanders said.

“As a senator he obviously in his official capacity met with the ambassador. Again, that was as a senator, not as a campaign official, so again, to try to muddy the waters in that way is I think pretty unfair to the attorney general,” she said.

When asked how many ambassadors attended the conference in question, Sanders said, “I would have to get a specific number, but there were dozens of other ambassadors.”

On Friday, Trump tweeted a picture of a younger Schumer having drinks with the Russian president at what appeared to be a gas station owned by the Russian state-run oil company during a 2003 visit by Putin to New York.

"We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin," Trump tweeted. "A total hypocrite!"

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