Tags: Russia Probe | Trump Administration | kushner | russia | statement

Kushner: 'I Did Not Collude' With Russia

Kushner: 'I Did Not Collude' With Russia
(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Monday, 24 July 2017 06:18 AM

Jared Kushner confirmed four contacts with Russians during his father-in-law's presidential campaign or after the election, he said, but he described the encounters as unmemorable and denied colluding with the Russian government to help Donald Trump win.

In the most consequential meeting, Kushner said he agreed to meet with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, on Dec. 13 at the request of the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," Kushner said in a statement prepared for an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday. "I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector."

The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, including whether Trump's campaign colluded with a Russian government effort to tip the election toward Trump.

Kushner, who is a White House senior adviser, prepared an 11-page statement covering his contacts with Russians during Trump's campaign and transition and questions about his SF-86 disclosure form for national security clearance.

Kushner's contacts with Russians have come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks. He has had to amend his security clearance disclosures to account for previously unreported meetings with foreign contacts, and his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr., disclosed this month that in June 2016 Kushner sat in on a meeting with a Russian lawyer and a Russian lobbyist that Trump Jr. believed would deliver potentially damaging information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Kushner said in his statement to the Intelligence committee that he didn't read an email Trump Jr. sent to him describing that meeting before he joined it, and that when he realized the lawyer wanted to talk to about U.S. adoptions of Russian children he tried to get out of the room.

He said that he even emailed an assistant: "Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting."

Kushner also said in his statement, released by a representative ahead of his interview:

  • Sanctions on Russia did not come up during a meeting in December during the transition with Gorkov, the head of a Russian state-owned bank and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gorkov gave Kushner a piece of art and a bag of dirt from a Belarus village his grandparents are from, Kushner said. "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 said.
  • Kushner was approached by an alleged computer hacker via email who tried to extort the campaign, threatening to release Donald Trump's tax returns if he didn't receive 52 bitcoins. Kushner said he reported the e-mail to a Secret Service agent traveling with the campaign and didn't respond to it at the agent's advice.
  • Kushner shook hands with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in April 2016 at a gathering at the Mayflower Hotel but had no substantive discussion with him, he said.
  • He met with Kislyak and Trump's top national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn on Dec. 1 and told the Russian ambassador Trump desired a "fresh start" in relations. He said he inquired about setting up a communications channel for the campaign with the Russian government but insisted it was an insignificant request. "The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day," he said.

Even before the latest revelations, staff for congressional committees investigating Russian election meddling and ties between Trump's team and the Russians have expressed an interest in talking with Kushner, who was deeply involved in the campaign and the transition.

Kushner's interview with committee staff is voluntary, will take place out of the public eye and will not be under oath. It nevertheless may serve as a building block for the ongoing Russia investigations by Special Counsel Bob Mueller as well as House and Senate committees.

Meanwhile, Kushner last week filed an amended financial disclosure that included 77 items worth at least $10 million that were described as "inadvertently omitted" from a March filing. The updated filing includes details about the Kushner family's real estate holdings. The disclosure has been revised 39 times since its initial filing on March 9.

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Jared Kushner confirmed four contacts with Russians during his father-in-law's presidential campaign or after the election, he said, but he described the encounters as unmemorable and denied colluding with the Russian government to help Donald Trump win.
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Monday, 24 July 2017 06:18 AM
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