A West Virginia man tried to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials last year in the hopes that the two sides could discuss their “shared Christian values.”
A CNN report reveals Rick Clay, the West Virginian in question and former Iraq contractor, pitched the meeting to Rick Dearborn — one of then-candidate Donald Trump‘s top aides and the current White House deputy chief of staff. Dearborn reportedly did not choose to acquiesce to Clay’s request, calling it “inappropriate” and informing the State Department about the matter.
“The thought was if there was an opportunity there to get two sides together to talk about Christian values, then that’s important…That was the gist of it, and it didn’t go anywhere,” said Clay.
Known as only “WV” in a prior report, Clay was mentioned by Dearborn in a June 2016 email and claims that meeting request between the Trump campaign and Russians was done at an unnamed friend’s request.
Clay is unsure if the friend’s proposed meeting was related to the on-going investigation on Russia’s influence in the 2016 presidential election and said he wasn’t sure if his friend’s request was part of a broader effort by Russia to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
“I mean how can anybody ever know about that? You kind of look at people you know — when you meet Russians and people come from other countries, and I travel all over the world. You try to trust them, and if you are dealing with someone from the government, or the Russian government… you got to be careful because you never know… I think you would be stretching it to say it was an intelligence effort to infiltrate the Trump administration.”
Additionally, Clay claimed the context of the proposal was prior to the Russia collusion narrative even coming out into the mainstream.
White House special counsel Ty Cobb told CNN that Dearborn is now “vindicated by the actual facts” and further accusations against him are merely the media’s “salacious speculation.”
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