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Jared Kushner admits four meeting with Russian officials but denies collusion

Monday - 24/07/2017 13:27
JARED Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a Senior White House adviser, says he had four meetings with Russian officials during the US election campaign but says he has “nothing to hide.”
White House senior adviser says he has never sought the spotlight. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP
White House senior adviser says he has never sought the spotlight. Picture: Evan Vucci/AP

Mr Kushner admits the meetings in an 11-page statement ahead of US congressional interviews this week. He plans to deliver the statement during closed-door meetings with investigators on US Senate and House committees this week.

“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner said in the statement in which he also insists none of the contacts was improper.

Jared Kushner with his wife Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Donald Trump, attend a news conference in the East Room of the White House. Picture: Andrew Harnik/AP
Jared Kushner with his wife Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Donald Trump, attend a news conference in the East Room of the White House. Picture: Andrew Harnik/APSource:AP

He also denies that Russians finance any of his business in the private sector. In speaking to Congress, Kushner — as both the president’s son-in-law and a trusted senior adviser during the campaign and inside the White House — becomes the first member of the president’s inner circle to face questions from government officials as they probe Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible links to the Trump campaign.

He is to meet with staff on the Senate intelligence committee on Monday and members on the House intelligence committee Tuesday.

Mr Kushner’s appearance has been highly anticipated, in part because of a series of headlines in recent months about his interactions with Russians and because the reticent Mr Kushner had until Monday not personally responded to questions about an incomplete security clearance form and his conversations with foreigners.

RELATED: Scaramucci: Trump still doesn’t accept intelligence on Russia

US President Donald Trump’s administration is mired in an ongoing scandal over Russian hacking of the US election. Picture: Jim Watson/AFP
US President Donald Trump’s administration is mired in an ongoing scandal over Russian hacking of the US election. Picture: Jim Watson/AFPSource:AFP

“I am not a person who has sought the spotlight,” he said in his statement. In it, he detailed a June 2016 meeting with a Russian-American lawyer and says it was such a “waste of time” that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering.

Emails released this month show that the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, accepted the meeting at Trump Tower with the idea that he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

But Mr Kushner says he hadn’t seen those emails until recently shown them by his lawyers.

Mr Kushner said in his statement that Mr Trump Jr invited him to the meeting. He says he arrived late and when he heard the lawyer discussing the issue of adoptions, he texted his assistant to call him out.

“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,” Kushner’s statement says.

Mr Kushner called a June 2016 meeting with a Russian-American lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya “a waste of time”. Picture: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Mr Kushner called a June 2016 meeting with a Russian-American lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya “a waste of time”. Picture: Alexander Zemlianichenko/APSource:AP

Mr Kushner also denies reports he discussed setting up a secret back-channel with the Russian ambassador to the US.

He said he did speak with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower. But he says that conversation was about policy in Syria. Mr Kushner says that when Mr Kislyak asked if there was a secure line for him to provide information on Syria from what Mr Kislyak called his “generals,” Mr Kushner asked if there was an existing communications channel at the embassy that could be used.

Donald Trump Jr and Mr Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York with Ms Veselnitskaya. Picture: Jim Watson/AFP
Donald Trump Jr and Mr Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York with Ms Veselnitskaya. Picture: Jim Watson/AFPSource:AFP

Mr Kushner says he never proposed an ongoing secret form of communication. He also says he met with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, at the request of Mr Kislyak. But he says no specific policies were discussed.

Mr Kushner also explained that his application form for a security clearance form was submitted prematurely due to a miscommunication with his assistant, who had erroneously believed the document was complete.

He said he mistakenly omitted all of his foreign contacts, not just his meetings with Russians, and has worked in the last six months with the FBI to correct the record.

Mr Trump Jr and Mr Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was also at the June 2016 meeting, were scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. But on Friday their attorneys said they remained in negotiations with that panel.

The two men are now in discussions to be privately interviewed by staff or politicians, though the GOP chairman of the committee, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, has said they will eventually testify in public.

The president took to Twitter over the weekend to defend himself and repeat his criticism of the investigations. On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!”

Source: News Corp Australia Network:

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