At this point I don't even think it was malicious. I think they are that stupid.
I don't even think it was the meeting part that was stupid, either. Honestly the DC-NYC corridor is a total swamp pit of people interconnected with various megacorps or govts worldwide, all seeking their own little place at Uncle Sam's table. The amount of association and intermingling that has been widely published about both sides recently just scratches the surface.
The stupid part, as is usually the case in politics, wasn't the crime but the denials and/or coverup.
When the issue first arose, Trump should just have said "I'm sure people did speak with the Russian ambassador, it's an ambassador's job to chat up people in DC, they go around to various functions and try and speak with everyone. Who would hire an unsocial ambassador? I'm also sure none of my people let out any information they shouldn't have."
Luckily for the Dems, Trump hired rare specimens like Jeff Sessions. Unsurprising that the same guy who suddenly thinks bringing back D.A.R.E.
is a brilliant idea couldn't even keep his Russian story straight or supposedly recall
much of what he's done for the past year.