Russian Collusion Claims Its First Victim

FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2013 file photo, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, speaks with reporters in Washington. The Obama administration is aware of frequent contacts between President-elect Donald Trump’s top national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, including on the day President Barack Obama hit Moscow with sanctions in retaliation for election-related hacking, a senior U.S. official said Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

The man at ground zero of the rapidly deflating Trump-colluded-with-Russia conspiracy theory is the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak has been the Russian ambassador to the United States for nearly a decade. During the past year, though, he’s become famous as the man everyone has met but no one remembers meeting.

As Kislyak’s associations came under intensifying scrutiny in recent weeks, an array of politicians in both parties tripped over themselves in trying to deny any past contacts with Kislyak, whose meetings with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn have become a central source of intrigue in the broader Russia probe. All three men failed to report their meetings or conversations with the Russian ambassador at various times. At one point, the intrigue spread beyond the Trump camp — in late April, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed she’d never met Kislyak shortly before photos surfaced of her meeting with him alongside other lawmakers in 2010.

That era is coming to an end. Kislyak has been recalled to Moscow. In the bad old days, being recalled to Moscow meant an unpleasant meeting with some unpleasant men from the KGB followed by a bullet in the back of the head in a basement in Lubyanka prison. Kislyak probably isn’t looking at that fate but his recall is a direct result of him being made so radioactive by the Russia-collusion stories that no one wants to meet with him and what good is an ambassador no one wants to meet with.