A 2016 Trump Tower meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump’s son and a prominent Russian attorney was an attempt by Vladimir Putin's government to help the current president's campaign, says the former United States Ambassador to Russia.
“I think its pretty clear," Michael McFaul, who served under President Barack Obama, told Greater Boston. "The Russians had something that they wanted to offer as a way to help the Trump candidacy win.”
The comments came after the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee released interview transcripts, including their interview with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. The interview covered, among other things, his interactions with a Russian lawyer who purported to have damaging information about his father’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
McFaul, the author of the new book "From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia," said he hasn’t read the transcripts in their entirety, but told Jim Braude, that it’s clear who Putin preferred to win the White House. “Putin liked what Trump was saying on the campaign trail. He didn’t like what Clinton was saying and then he weighed in to try to help him win,” he added.
Earlier Wednesday, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders came to a similar conclusion, announcing publicly that they agreed with intelligence community's 2017 assessment of Russian election meddling.
“People have been slow to think that they could do this, including my friends that worked at the White House, by the way, when this was happening,” McFaul said of the Russians. He continued, “And the reason we’ve been so slow is because it’s so audacious — the idea that they would steal emails and then publish them to help one candidate or not [abd] the idea that they would use disinformation to help one candidate or not.”
McFaul told Braude that as ambassador from 2012 to 2014, he was a victim of Russian disinformation efforts and believes the United States is still not prepared to combat future cyber threats.
"Make no mistake, it’s not pleasant and we don't know how to respond. And I would say we as a country still haven't figured out how to respond to disinformation like that," he said.
For more of former ambassador Michael McFaul’s interview, click on the video link above.