The Trump administration continues to face scrutiny from reporters about Russia and which government officials may have met with representatives of the country during the campaign. But the White House insists that President Donald Trump was not involved with the Russians during his presidential run.
“The big point here is the president himself knows what his involvement was, and that’s zero,” Trump deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said to reporters on Air Force One on Friday. “And I think that he’s the primary person that should be held responsible and he had no interaction.”
“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump said during a White House press conference in February. “Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia.”
Sanders also rebutted the notion that it was unusual that Sessions met the Russian Ambassador during a Heritage Foundation conference, describing him as a campaign volunteer.
“Please explain to me how volunteers meeting at a conference where nearly 80 ambassadors attended is a story,” she said. “I guess it’s kind of lost on me where that would be newsworthy in any capacity.”
She pointed to resurfacing photos of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sitting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, wondering why that was not a news story. (Trump’s Twitter account shared a picture of Schumer and Putin on Friday.)
Reports of the Russian ambassador visiting Trump Tower, Sanders argued, was just one courtesy call among hundreds of meetings that took place during the transition.
“Frankly I didn’t know about it and so I don’t think anybody saw it as a big deal, there was no policy discussion,” she said. “It was an introductory courtesy meeting which we did literally hundreds over the course of the transition.”