By LeNora Millen July 24, 2017
President Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner is expected to deny collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign on Capitol Hill Monday in a closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts,”
Kushner arriving on Capitol Hill, denies collusion with Russia in a prepared statement before meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Kushner released an 11-page statement on Monday detailing his four meetings with Russian officials during the campaign in the midst of its transition. He is expected to tell congressional investigators about events leading up to the meetings with Russian officials.
“I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest,” Kushner’s statement reads.
Kushner is viewed as one of Trump’s closest confidants—not only his son-in-law but a trusted adviser who has been at the President’s side during the campaign trail and the transition to the White House. He is the first member of President Trump’s family to appear on Capitol Hill as part of the Russia probe.
Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials are the primary focus of congressional investigators to include the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, a pivotal figure, who is leading a separate probe into the 2016 Russian election interference.
The Senate Intelligence Committee panel, one of the several congressional committees investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, has interviewed dozens of individuals as part of the Russian probe. President Trump and White House officials have continued to downplay a meeting that Donald Trump, Jr., Kushner and several Trump associates who met with a Russian attorney linked to the Kremlin in June 2016.
Donald Trump Jr., organized the meeting with Russia lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after receiving an email from a business associate who according to statements in the email—wanted to share incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. According to the business associate’s email exchange, the information was passed along from a Russian government official.
Donald Trump, Jr., invited Kushner and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort to the meeting. He has adamantly stated that nothing came of the controversial meeting, despite his denial, lawmakers plan to interview all the parties involved in the meetings with Russian officials while investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the presidential election.
“The committee’s going to reach out to everybody we feel has some contribution to make,” Sen. Richard Barr (R-NC), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to his comments to reporters last week.
Kushner, in his statement, said he did not know who would be attending the meeting and described it as a “waste of our time.” He arrived to the meeting late, as participants were discussing Russian adoptions. He also said he asked his assistant to call him 10 minutes into the meeting to give him an excuse to leave early.
“No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted,” he wrote in his statement.
Kushner, who has been cooperating with investigators, is also expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday after speaking with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators on Monday.
“There is a lot we want to know,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS News Face the Nation Sunday. “His counsel has said they will make him available for two hours, so we expect this is just going to be the first interview.”
Reports of the interview were announced as the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr., had agreed to turn over documents and speak to panel members behind closed doors as part of its ongoing probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Though a request for a public hearing was initially made, both men have expressed a willingness to cooperate with congressional investigators.
Kushner will also face questions about a meeting after the election last fall with, the head of the Russian bank Sergey Gorkov. VneshEconombank has been sanctioned by the U.S. government. White House officials and spokespersons for the bank have provided conflicting explanations for the meeting.
In his 11-page statement—Kushner said the meeting lasted less than half an hour, and that he “expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met.”
“There were no specific policies discussed,” he said. “We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration. At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind.”
Kushner served as the campaign’s liaison to foreign governments during the Trump transition. In December, Kushner met with then Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. According to a New York Times report, Kushner allegedly discussed establishing a possible secret back channel for diplomatic communications between Russian and the United States.
Kushner denied discussing “an on-going secret form of communication,” e.g., a “secret back channel” with Kislyak.
“During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations,” he said in his statement Monday.
After Kislyak asked if he could convey information regarding Syria to Kushner and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kushner asked “if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn,” according to Kushner’s statement.
“The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred,” he said.