U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur today visited Cleveland, the site of the 2016 Republican National Convention, to urge all residents, political leaders, cab drivers, restaurant operators, passersby and visitors of any stripe who may have been in the presence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak or any advisers to President Donald Trump at the RNC to come forward and share what they may know. This marks the first time in her career that Kaptur has made such a request of her constituents and of the American public.
"President Trump and I have very different views about the role of Russian in the world today," she said in a small library at The City Club of Cleveland. "[Trump's] service is new to all of us. I have many deep concerns based on his public statements, also his business connections and his family's business connections related to Russia. We do not know what all of those connections are."
With that, Kaptur, a co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, explained a spider-webbed chart of how various Trump associates — both in government and not — are connected to, e.g., Kislyak.
The brief press conference came in the wake of revelations that a number of conversations between Trump's presidential campaign advisers and the Russian ambassador likely took place during the RNC
. Carter Page, an apparent one-time adviser to Trump, said last week that he had spoken with Kislyak and emphasized the RNC connection: "I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland."
With Sessions having recused himself from any official inquiries into Russia's role in the Trump presidential campaign, the heat is on. Federal government officials are pushing harder than ever for a full-on investigation into just what in the hell has been going on since the budding days of Trump's campaign.
Kaptur sounded the call for important pieces of information — the connective tissue in a growing timeline
— that may have taken place in Cleveland.
"If you were a journalist, if you were a hotel operator, if you operated a restaurant — or just someone who was in a place where any of these individuals may have been meeting — it's really important that you share that information," Kaptur said.
News reports last week revealed
that at least some meetings likely took place at Case Western Reserve University during a series of Heritage Foundation-sponsored panel events dubbed "the Global Partners in Diplomacy conference." Sessions reportedly gave an address during those events on July 20, 2016.
spoke with Global Cleveland President Joe Cimperman, whose organization hosted a July 19 reception for the Global Partners in Diplomacy at Severance Hall. He could not confirm whether Sessions was in attendance that night, but did say that about 75 ambassadors from around the world were present. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker gave the evening's speech.
But beyond the diplomacy conference, Kaptur made that point that any number of more informal conversations could have taken place in hotels or at restaurants or in cars — in any number of locations around the city during the RNC. As she and others in the federal government attempt to build out the timeline of events that have brought Trump to this point before the American public, all information will be treated with the utmost confidence and sincerity.
Anyone with information may confidentially email Kaptur and her team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-964-4699 or send mail to Rep. Marcy Kaptur, 2186 Rayburn Building, Washington DC, 20515.