Jared Kushner speaks out

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“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” said Trump adviser Jared Kushner in an 11-page statement he 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.”

Kushner confirmed that he had four contacts with Russians during his father-in-law’s presidential campaign or after the election, but he described those encounters as unmemorable.

Media leaks regarding Kushner’s contacts with Russians have caused him 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 Don Jr. believed would deliver potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

In his statement to the Intelligence committee, Kushner reveals that he didn’t read an email Don Jr. sent to him describing that meeting with the Russian lawyer before he joined it. He states 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 by emailing an assistant, “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.”

Other tidbits from Kushner’s statement, released by a representative ahead of his interview, include:

  • 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, stating, “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 reported that he 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 said he had no substantive discussion with him.
  • Kushner met with Kislyak and Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, on Dec. 1 and told the Russian ambassador that 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. Kushner pointed out, “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.”

Kushner’s voluntary interview with committee staff will take place behind closed doors and will not be under oath.

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