Two more members of President Donald Trump’s campaign spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a diplomacy conference connected to the Republican National Convention in July, USA Today reported on Thursday.
The report came hours after The Washington Post reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with Kislyak at the event.
USA Today named the two officials as J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, and noted that it is unknown what they discussed with the ambassador. Those who took part in the events in Cleveland said it is not unusual for presidential campaign teams to interact with diplomats.
Gordon, who managed the advisory committee as the Trump campaign’s director of national security, said that while he also spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland, it is not unusual for a presidential campaign to interact with diplomats.
“I’d consider it an informal conversation just like my interactions with dozens of other ambassadors and senior diplomats in Cleveland,” Gordon said, according to USA Today.
Page, another member of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee who also spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland, cited “confidentiality rules” in declining to say what he discussed with the ambassador.
“I had no substantive discussions with him,” said Page, who left the campaign later in the summer amid controversy over a speech he gave in Moscow in early July criticizing American foreign policy and sanctions against Russia.
Hossein Khorram, an RNC delegate from Washington State who wasn’t part of Trump’s campaign, attended the diplomacy event and said it provided a forum for diplomats to share their concerns with GOP officials. After formal panel discussions, the attendees broke off into informal conversations.
“Basically the ambassadors — including the Russian ambassador — they were expressing their, mainly, fears about the war on terror and collaborating with the United States,” he said, according to USA Today. “There was no promises made on behalf of the Trump administration.”
The Justice Department’s acknowledgement on Wednesday that Sessions spoke with Kislyak twice in 2016 led to calls for him to recuse himself from investigations into the Trump team’s contact with Russia. By Thursday afternoon, Sessions announced he would recuse himself.
A spokeswoman for Sessions denied that he was being untruthful when he claimed at his confirmation hearing that he had no contact with Russian officials, but the calls for him to recuse himself came from both Republicans as well as senior Democrats.
President Donald Trump earlier on Thursday expressed “total” confidence in Sessions, dismissing calls for him to recuse himself.