Kushner’s Statement on Russia: Here Are the Highlights
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner released a statement Monday morning to the Hill intelligence committees about his contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign and transition.
Kushner denied any collusion with the Russian government, which was engaged throughout 2016 in a campaign of its own to interfere in the election and help Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The 11-page statement from Kushner is his first public accounting of his interactions with Russians during the presidential campaign.
Here’s a look at the highlights:
- Kushner says he had four contacts with Russians last year. The first was a handshake with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before a Trump speech in April. The second was the highly controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June. The third was a meeting with Kislyak during the transition. And the fourth was with Russian state-run banker Sergey Gorkov during the transition.
- These four interactions were already known from previous news reports, though Kushner added new details in his statement on Monday, including information about relevant emails and logistics.
- He says none of these interactions were about collusion or election interference, saying, “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.”
- Kushner denied reading the full email forwarded to him by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting. That email explained that the Russian lawyer wanted to meet with Trump campaign officials to give them information from the Kremlin that would hurt Clinton, as part of its effort to help Trump.
- He says that he was late to the meeting and only in the room for 10 minutes while the issue of Russian adoptions was discussed. The statement says he emailed an assistant, asking that person to call his cell phone so he would have an excuse to walk out of the meeting. Kushner didn’t publicly release the email but did provide it to the House and Senate intelligence committees.
- Kushner denied a Reuters report that said he spoke with Kislyak on the phone twice during the campaign. That report cited seven unnamed sources saying Kushner spoke with Kislyak on the phone at least twice between April and November 2016. Kushner’s lawyers denied the story when it came out in May. Kushner said in his statement that he checked some of his phone records and that his team hasn’t found “any calls to any number known to be associated with Ambassador Kislyak.”
- The statement adds clarity on what Kushner and Kislyak discussed during their December 1 meeting. Kushner denies attempting to create a “secret back channel” between the Trump transition and the Kremlin. But he acknowledges asking Kislyak “if they had an existing communication channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting” sensitive military information about Syria with the Trump transition. Kislyak couldn’t accommodate that request, so they tabled the idea, Kushner says in the statement.
- Kushner says Kislyak also encouraged him to meet with Gorkov, and that he agreed to do it “because the ambassador has been so insistent.” During the meeting, Kushner says he broadly discussed improving US-Russia relations but did not talk about “any private business of any kind.” This explanation clashes with previous statements from the bank itself, and from a Kremlin spokesman, who said the meeting was about business and that Gorkov met with Kushner in his capacity as “the head of Kushner companies,” not as a member of the incoming administration.
- Kushner acknowledges shaking hands with Kislyak before a Trump speech at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. This event has attracted scrutiny from investigators on Capitol Hill, who have been trying to figure out the extent of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ interactions with Kislyak the same day. Sessions testified last month that he didn’t recall any such meeting.
- For the first time, Kushner said he got an email one week before the election from someone he didn’t recognize called “Guccifer400.” The email threatened to release Trump’s tax returns unless Kushner paid hush money. Kushner says he ignored the email at the advice of a Secret Service agent. The US government says Russia created an online persona called Guccifer 2.0 as a front to release emails it stole during the campaign, but there is no indication that Guccifer400 was part of the Russian meddling effort.