Jared Kushner Says ‘I Did Not Collude’ With Any Foreign Government
By NBC News
White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, right, listens to President Donald Trump speak during a breakfast with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. AP photo
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was interviewed Monday by staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session during which he was not under oath.
Hours before he entered the Hart Senate Office Building for the interviews, Kushner released a statement detailing four contacts with Russians during the election and transition and denying any collusion with Moscow.
“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” he said in the statement. “I had no improper contacts.”
Among the meetings with Russian officials was a June 2016 sit-down that included Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. In his statement, Kushner said that particular meeting was such a “waste of time” that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering.
Ahead of that meeting, Donald Trump Jr. had been promised potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton, according to emails he released earlier this month — although the president's son has said the meeting did not produce any information and that Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss an adoption program of Russian children. Democrats have nevertheless pounced on the meeting as evidence that Trump Jr. was willing to collude with a foreigner purporting to have information tied to the Russian government to help his father's presidential campaign and influence the results of the election.
Kushner said in his Monday statement that he had not spoken to the lawyer since. “I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently,” he said.
In his statement, Kushner said his first meeting with a Russian official came in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Following a speech there by then-candidate Donald Trump about foreign policy, the event’s host, Dimitri Simes, introduced Kushner “to several guests, among them four ambassadors, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.”
Kushner wrote of two additional meetings with Russian officials, both which occurred after Trump won.
A Dec. 1 meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower “lasted twenty- thirty minutes,” where “Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret.), who became the President's National Security Advisor” was also present, Kushner said he “stated our desire for a fresh start in relations. Also, as I had done in other meetings with foreign officials, I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President,” he wrote.
Kushner, in his statement, also wrote of a Dec. 13 meeting with Sergey Gorkov, who Kislyak had said “was a banker and someone with a direct line to the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together.”
“I agreed to meet Mr. Gorkov because the Ambassador has been so insistent, said he had a direct relationship with the President, and because Mr. Gorkov was only in New York for a couple days,” Kushner wrote.
“As I did at the meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, I expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met. There were no specific policies discussed. We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration,” Kushner wrote.
NBC News had reported in June that members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees proving Russian interference might be looking into whether Kushner had been looking for a a customer in Moscow to buy a the massively expensive 41-story tower at 666 Fifth Avenue from his family's real estate company.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Russia's alleged attempted interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the covert operation was intended to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign and evolved into an attempt to help Trump win.
Kushner arrived at Capitol Hill for his interviews around 9:40 a.m., and did not respond to questions being shouted by reporters.
His interview took place in a special area used for classified briefings and meetings called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. The SCIF is on the second floor of the Hart Senate Office Building, the same place where the Intelligence Committee has held recent interviews with James Clapper, Denis McDonough and Susan Rice.
On Tuesday, Kushner will appear before the House Intelligence Committee and will be interviewed under oath behind closed doors by the panel's members.
Meanwhile, Trump Jr. and former campaign manager Paul Manafort have agreed to be interviewed by staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee but will not appear at a public hearing next week, the committee has said.
The Judiciary Committee had requested that both appear at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, and threatened to issue subpoenas if they had refused.