Originally published on Quora.com.
Every modern President has met with Russian officials. Presidents Obama and Bush have both met with the very same Russian official Trump did, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — and they met with others as well.
The fact that President Trump met with Russian officials is not at all unusual. Rather, what has people worked up is the circumstances surrounding the meeting — amid an investigation of Russian interference in the election on Trump’s behalf, possible collusion between Trump and Russia related to it, and allegations that Trump shared classified information with the Russian officials during the meeting.
Here’s President Obama with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the same Russian official Trump met with:
And here’s President Bush with Lavrov too:
Other Presidents have had similar meetings. Here’s President Clinton with Russian Special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin:
And President Bush with Russian President Vladimir Putin himself:
Even at the height of the Cold War, meetings with Soviet officials were not unheard of. Here’s President Reagan with Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev:
It’s important in the present swirl of outrage surrounding President Trump that we keep things in context. There’s nothing at all wrong with a U.S. President meeting with Russian leaders. But, never before has there been reason to suspect that a U.S. President might do so with anything other than our nation’s best interests at heart.
The suspicions around Trump and Russia are still only that. But they have nevertheless changed how Trump’s interactions with Russia will be viewed.