Reports that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, is under scrutiny in the federal probe of Russia's interference in the 2016 election should not be considered explosive news, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax TV.
"I don't think it's a big deal at all," Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican who chaired the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday in an interview with Newsmax's Steve Malzberg.
He said former FBI director Robert Mueller, who has been appointed special prosecutor to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, will likely be looking at everybody connected to the Trump's presidential campaign to cross them off the list.
"What is the mandate that Mueller has? Do a deep dive, do a deep investigation into Russian influence, attempted influence, collusion with any campaigns in 2016 election season. Jared Kushner is a trusted adviser of then-candidate Donald Trump," Hoekstra said.
"I expect Mueller is going to go through the whole list of people that worked on the Trump campaign and were close and influential in putting together a successful campaign. Jared is one of them, it's a natural thing, it is not news that they are looking at Jared."
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported Kushner is under scrutiny by the FBI because of his meetings in December and other possible interactions with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow.
Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe, The Post added.
Mueller, who was appointed by the Justice Department, the FBI and several congressional committees are looking into allegations of meddling by Russia in the 2016 U.S. election and possible ties between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian officials seeking to influence the election.
Trump's administration has been mired in controversy since firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was involved in the investigation. Trump has denied any collusion with Russia.
"The media is trying to make it into something much more than it is. I'm expecting that Mueller is also going to be looking at Hillary Clinton, [her aide] Huma Abedin, and a whole bunch of people in the Clinton campaign," Hoekstra said.
"Because if the Russians were active in the Trump campaign or trying to be, you've got to bet that they were active with Clinton confidantes as well, because guess what? Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. We all knew that!"
Hoekstra also weighed in on a report by Circa that the National Security Agency (NSA) under the Obama administration systematically spied on hundreds of millions of Americans under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
According to Circa, declassified documents revealed serious constitutional abuses by the intelligence community — showing more than 5 percent of searches seeking internet data on Americans inside the Section 702 database violated safeguards. The extent of those violations were reportedly not disclosed until late last fall.
"It's a huge deal. This is the NSA doing things that they're not supposed to do. Their foreign intelligence capability, they are not supposed to be spying on Americans," Hoekstra told Malzberg.
"They assured me . . . when I served on the intelligence committee that we've got the proper protocols in place to make sure . . . we can get the information we need to keep Americans safe from foreign terrorists and the protections in place to make sure this information is not used or abused against Americans.
"And take a look at where this goes: the NSA collects information, they collect on Americans, and now we find out thy collected on Americans in violation of their agreements that they made with FISA [The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978] and the agreements that they had in place with Congress."
Hoekstra said the NSA's information was then relayed to various officials in the White House, including then-CIA director John Brennan.
"So, stuff perhaps collected illegally by the NSA finds its way over to a political appointee, someone that I've always believed was very partisan in the job, and then he decides which ones may or may not be forwarded over to the FBI for further investigation," Hoekstra said.
"I can't quite figure out why the House and Senate intel committees are not doing a deep dive into this. This is what they have responsibility for, this is what they were lied to by the NSA.
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