I have “one of the greatest memories of all time,” President Trump said just a few days ago. But, according to the White House, he has no recollection of a critical campaign meeting that could implicate him in the Russia probe, despite previously tweeting about it and posting a photo to Instagram.
The meeting at issue took place on March 31, 2016 at the Trump Hotel in D.C., which was then under construction. It was a meeting of Trump’s national security advisers, including George Papadopoulos.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2016
We learned from Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, which special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed Monday, that at the meeting Papadopoulos talked about his ongoing communications with Russia and offered to broker a meeting between Trump and Putin. Subsequent reporting revealed that Trump himself demonstrated interest, asking Papadopoulos some questions.
This is significant because, in February of 2017, Trump flatly declared that he did not know of anyone on his campaign who talked to Russia during the campaign.
During the White House press briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if Trump recalled Papadopoulos’ offer to connect him with Putin.
“No, I don’t believe he does,” Sanders replied before quickly moving to the next question.
Notably, Sanders — who is normally not shy about declaring something “fake news” — did not question reports from CNN and the New York Times that Trump questioned Papadopoulos at the meeting.
Trump’s memory lapse is very convenient. If Trump “recalled” that conversation, he would have to acknowledge that he intentionally misled the public about his knowledge of communications between his campaign and the Russian government.
Nevertheless, by injecting new facts into the public conversation, Mueller is beginning to chip away at White House efforts to insulate Trump from the intensifying probe.