My brother Charles just posted a series of tweets by a statistician known as Carolyn O., who decided to do a nexis-lexis search to identify events surrounding Jeff Sessions's September 8 meeting with Ambassador Kislyak--the one that Sessions spontaneously denied while Al Franken was questioning him. The results were quite astonishing and I'm summarizing them here.
On September 2, President Obama met with President Putin at a G-8 Summit. They discussed US sanctions against Russia that Obama had imposed the day before, and Putin described them as an obstacle to cooperation between the two nations.
Five days later, on September 7, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, suggested for the first time that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee.
On the very next day, September 8, Trump told a Russian TV correspondent that he did not believe Russia was behind the hack, and Sessions met with Kislyak. Trump also said publicly that, "If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS?" And on that same day, Trump and Pence made a whole series of statements praising Putin's leadership style. and on the same day, Tass announced, "Moscow expects Washington to display political will on building good relations with Russia after the presidential election," quoting Dimitry Peskov.
Now I can't post all this without registering a caveat. Moscow time is about 8 hours ahead of Washington time, and thus it seems very unlikely to me that the Russian spokesman, Peskov, could have issued his optimistic statement as a direct response to whatever went on between Sessions and Kislyak. But it seems that, in the wake of a difficult meeting between Obama and Putin, Trump went on the offensive seeking better relations with the Russians, Sessions's meeting with Kislyak was part of this, and the Russians did their part. The question, of course, is what did the Russians do--or promise not to do--to secure Trump's good will and suggestions of a better relationship?
Carolyn O. did a fantastic demonstration of what is possible with open source research. I did this post, exceptionally, because as far as I could tell with a google search 15 minutes ago, no news organization has yet picked up this story. You read it here first!