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Memo was originally released heavily redacted and shows a Trump meeting with Russian diplomats in May 2017 was routine, not part of a conspiracy.
- National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien made good on President Trump’s transparency pledge in the Russia collusion case, releasing in its entirety a previously heavily redacted document from the Robert Mueller probe showing why Russian diplomats met with Trump in May 2017.
- The memo, which was originally released with only three words visible, shows National Security Council official Eric Ciaramella wrote on May 10, 2017 that Trump chose to meet with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov that during a visit to Washington based on a request eight days earlier during a phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
- “May 2, 2017: Putin asks POTUS to receive Lavrov when he stops through DC en route to Arctic Ministerial in Fairbanks, Alaska (a longplanned international meeting); POTUS agrees, and preparations begin,” Ciaramella wrote fellow NSC official William Murphy, explaining the origins of the Lavrov meeting.
- The memo was first flagged in a footnote of Mueller’s final investigative report on the Russia collusion probe in spring 2019, in part because the Lavrov meeting became the subject of a news media leak that claimed Trump called James Comey a “nut job” during the gathering and told the Russian foreign minister the FBI director had just been fired.
- The leaked conversation was used by the news media to further the narrative that Trump was somehow too close with the Russians and colluding with them at the jeopardy of American national security.
- Mueller, however, concluded no American, including Trump nor anyone around him, had improperly conspired with Moscow. Justice also did not recommend any obstruction of justice charges.
- Ciaramella’s exchange with Murphy – captured in the now unredacted email – shows the May 2017 meeting between Russian diplomats and Trump was simply a routine diplomatic courtesy afforded Lavrov after Putin had agreed to meet Trump’s then-new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier that spring.