Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, detailed four different meetings he had with Russian officials in a statement on Monday in which he also said he "did not collude" with Moscow during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
Kushner, who met behind closed doors with Senate Intelligence Committee staff, issued a written statement before that session that gave the fullest account to date of his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign and the presidential transition.
What Jared Kushner did is neither improper nor different than what other incoming presidential administrations have done. It certainly does not constitute a crime.
After the election and before President Trump took office, Kushner received over 50 contacts with people from more than 15 countries while he was acting on behalf of the president-elect. Previous entering presidents and their transition teams have engaged in similar contacts and conversations.
According to Kushner’s public statement, he met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, to discuss improved relations and “to address U.S. policy in Syria.” Later, Kushner met with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, “who could give insight into how President Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together.” Exactly how are those meetings counterproductive, uncommon or illegal? They are not.
"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," he said. "I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector." said Kushner in his public address after the hearings.
"Nothing else occurred. I did not suggest a 'secret back channel.' I did not suggest an ongoing secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office," Kushner said.
“It is common for representatives of other governments to get in touch with the incoming presidential administration to begin informal relationships and address relevant issues. It is not unusual. Transitions are fairly long. The incoming administration needs to inform itself of foreign policy. Getting to know people and foreign governments is widely done and beneficial to the U.S.”
Specifically, Jerad Kushner stated he had not known the reason for the meeting with the Russian lawyer, because he had been too busy with the campaign to read Don Jr.'s entire email - which is what NBC News' Kasie Hunt flagged as "the chaos and sloppiness defense."
He also acknowledged meeting with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, at the request of Kislyak but said no specific policies were discussed.
In an effort to demonstrate how distanced he was from international diplomacy, Kushner said in his statement that he “could not even remember the name of the Russian ambassador” when he wanted to verify an email purporting to be an official note of congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the day after the election.
As for his application for a security clearance, Kushner said his form was submitted prematurely due to a miscommunication with his assistant, who had believed the document was complete.
He said he mistakenly omitted all of his foreign contacts, not just his meetings with Russians, and has worked diligently in the past six months with the FBI to correct the record.
The president took to Twitter on Monday to repeat his criticism of the investigations, and reiterate his allegation against his former opponent, questioning in a tweet why investigators aren’t looking into “Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations.”
Kushner admits he dropped in on the now-infamous meeting that Donald Trump Jr. held at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and others during the campaign. He insists he arrived late, had no idea what the meeting was about, and left quickly when he realized the subject matter was all about the issue of the U.S. ban on Russian adoptions.
Though he heard no talk at the meeting of campaign activity, such a discussion would not have been prohibited under law, as explained in an earlier column.
Yet for months, Jared Kushner has been mugged by the media mob. His crime appears to be no crime at all. There was never an effort to place his meetings in the context of historical precedence, as Professor Clinton has done. There was no attempt at fairness or reasoned analysis.
Now, it is the mainstream media that deserves a good mugging. So much for unbiased journalism!