Who do you believe is more credible, Reuter’s, Russian TV, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Before you decide, read about the meeting that Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov says that he had last Friday with Donald Trump, which Sanders said never took place. Reuters:
“I was received by President Trump, I presented my credentials. For my part I said that we are looking forward to an improvement in the relations between our two countries,” Tass news agency quoted the ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, as saying.
“President Trump received me in a warm and friendly way ... The atmosphere was very genial, constructive and welcoming. At least, that was my personal feeling,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Antonov as saying.
“We, together with his colleagues, his staff, agreed to continue our cooperation.”
“I said that I look forward to working with the U.S government in the area of Russian-American mutual interests. And I said that, as far as Russia is concerned, we are ready to do that, we’re ready to take concrete steps.”
Now here’s Russian TV:
Antonov presented his credentials to President Trump on Friday.
“I told [Trump] that we count on improving relations between our two countries,” the Russian ambassador told journalists, adding that he was greeted in a “friendly and warm” manner by the US president.
“I said that it’s extremely important for international peace and security, and not only for bilateral relations,” he added.
So now you’ve read Russian TV’s story, and Tass and RIA’s story via Reuters. Here’s Huckabee Sanders' version of the non-meeting, via Talking Points Memo:
“There was not a meeting,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an email to TPM. “He was here for a credentialing ceremony with 12 other new ambassadors and their spouses.”
Sanders has been caught in some whoppers before, such as proudly boasting that Trump offered the State of Texas $1Million of his own money for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, a comment which was swiftly forgotten (like Trump's promises to give donations to other charities which have never materialized, either.) And then there’s Sanders’ insistence that the Trump campaign never colluded with Russia. Washington Post:
That’s the whole premise of what you’re asking the question is whether or not the campaign colluded with Russia. That’s the premise of the entire scope of your questioning, and the point we’ve tried to make over and over again and will continue to make is that there wasn’t.
Note that the official White House Press Release merely provides a list of parties present, (and Antonov is on that list,) and this sentence: "Below is a list of the foreign ambassadors who participated in the credentialing ceremony at the White House with the President today.” It is conceivable that Antonov had the dialogue with Trump that he describes at the ceremony — but then why would Huckabee Sanders go out of her way to stress that the credentialing ceremony was not "a meeting” between Trump and the ambassadors?
Apparently the more things change the more they are the same. Sergei Kisylak is gone and Anatoly Antonov is his replacement. Now two days into Antonov’s tenure we have a direct contradiction between news media and the White House press secretary about the meeting or lack thereof on Friday, which translates as Trump’s relationship with Antonov is off to as suspicious a start as the one with Kisylak was. And not only Trump, but his campaign advisors and his son in law ostensibly used to meet secretly with Kisylak as well. Or maybe Antonov is the one mischaracterizing everything and Huckabee Sanders' word is as good as gold.
This is not a good sign.