The Many Meetings Of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
In Washington, D.C., there is a dark horse in the race for Mr. Popular. It's the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. This week, there was yet another wowie (ph) of a revelation tying the Trump administration to Russia; this time, news that Attorney General Sessions met with the ambassador twice last year. During a Senate confirmation hearing, Mr. Sessions said that he, quote, "did not have communications with the Russians" - this after General Michael Flynn was ousted as national security adviser for misrepresenting the nature of his own contacts with - everyone at once now - the Russian ambassador. So Ambassador Kislyak is the man of the hour. We're joined now by the woman of the hour, or at least four minutes, our national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: (Laughter) I feel so fleeting, Scott.
SIMON: No, no, no, no, no, we're going to do this - I had to read all of these things. Now we're down to three minutes. Thanks - I don't know about you, but the Russian ambassador had bialys sent in, and they're out there in the newsroom for us, OK?
KELLY: Really? I like it.
SIMON: Latest twist this morning - President Trump tweets that his phones were tapped during the campaign.
KELLY: He began tweeting between 6 and 7 this morning, Scott, D.C. time, and what he is tweeting is remarkable. He says he just found out Obama had his wires tapped, Trump's wires tapped, in Trump Tower in October. President Trump asks, is this legal? He calls it McCarthyism, and he is calling...
SIMON: He has an attorney general he can ask that question to, I guess.
KELLY: Well, yeah. He calls Obama a bad or sick guy. That is an extraordinary thing to hear from a sitting president about his predecessor. We should note there has been no reaction from President Obama yet and no evidence, no confirmation, to support this claim. But it's not going to calm the waters.
SIMON: Boy, we have investigations that are unfolding at the FBI. There are several committees that are gathering at Capitol Hill. What's the landscape they're looking at right now?
KELLY: So, as you said, the FBI is investigating. We don't have a lot of visibility into where they are in that investigation or what the time frame is because they don't comment on active investigations. We just know that they are - they're doing them. On the Hill, we have - we know a little bit more. The Intelligence Committees have the lead on investigating all of the Russia stuff. We know they are reviewing documents. They're trying to think about who to call to come testify. And they confirmed this week - the House Intelligence Committee, for example, confirmed they are looking into links between Russia and the campaigns; also looking into all these recent leaks of classified information.
SIMON: I must say, it doesn't seem like the last scalp has been put on the wall.
KELLY: Well, we shall see.
SIMON: By that, I mean resignations in official Washington, yeah.
KELLY: Right, we're with you. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, by recusing himself from overseeing these investigations seemed to let some of the air out of the balloon about the calls for him to resign. But the bottom line is these questions about contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, how wide did those contacts reach, how high did they go, those are big outstanding questions. And given the rate of wowie revelations, as you put it, there may well be more to come.
SIMON: You've been on this beat for a while.
KELLY: I have, a decade or so.
SIMON: Any - ever seen anything like it?
KELLY: Wow. I think this is a story I will tell the grandkids about covering.
KELLY: I mean, you know, Scott, you cover the intelligence beat, and it is always a hall of mirrors. You never - nobody wants to speak on the record. Everything is classified. You never know if you've got the full scope of the story or where it ends or what the truth is. People who cover Russia will tell you it's similar there, that when you - when you're trying to cover what's going on there. So you combine in this story Russia, covering spy agencies and this incredibly controversial and divisive presidential campaign that we've just lived through, which has now become a controversial presidency, and they add up to a heck of a story.
SIMON: Mary Louise Kelly covers national security, but we're fortunate she's going to be hosting Weekend Edition Sunday tomorrow. As you know, I have no area of expertise, so I can't return the favor.
KELLY: Oh, but you must. You must call in and tell us about your brunch plans.
SIMON: (Laughter) I don't have them. I'll talk about spring training. Thanks so much for being with us.
KELLY: You're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.