No Rus­sia col­lu­sion, Kush­ner tells Congress

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Se­nior White House ad­viser Jared Kush­ner de­nied Monday that he col­luded with Rus­sians in the course of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s White House bid and de­clared he has “noth­ing to hide.’’

Be­hind closed doors, Kush­ner spoke to staff mem­bers of the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee for nearly three hours at the Capi­tol, then made a brief pub­lic state­ment back at the White House.

“Let me be very clear,’’ he said. “I did not col­lude with Rus­sia nor do I know of any­one else in the campaign who did so.’’

Kush­ner left with­out tak­ing ques­tions. In an 11-page state­ment, re­leased hours be­fore the Capi­tol ses­sion, he de­tailed four contacts with Rus­sians dur­ing Trump’s campaign and tran­si­tion. It aimed to ex­plain in­con­sis­ten­cies and omis­sions in a se­cu­rity clear­ance form that have in­vited pub­lic scru­tiny.

In the state­ment, Kush­ner said that none of his contacts, which in­cluded meet­ings at Trump Tower with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador and a Rus­sian lawyer, was im­proper.

Kush­ner ar­rived Monday morn­ing at a Se­nate of­fice build­ing, ex­it­ing a black sport util­ity ve­hi­cle and greet­ing pho­tog­ra­phers with a grin and a wave. When he left, he re­sponded to shouted ques­tions, say­ing the in­ter­view went “great’’ and that he an­swered as many ques­tions “as they had.’’

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 _ be­came the first mem­ber of the pres­i­dent’s in­ner cir­cle to face ques­tions from con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors as they probe Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion and pos­si­ble links to the Trump campaign. He is to meet with law­mak­ers on the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee Tuesday.

Kush­ner’s ap­pear­ances have been highly an­tic­i­pated, in part be­cause of head­lines in re­cent months about his in­ter­ac­tions with Rus­sians and be­cause he had not per­son­ally re­sponded to ques­tions about an incomplete se­cu­rity clear­ance form and his con­ver­sa­tions with for­eign­ers.

“I have shown to­day that I am will­ing to do so and will con­tinue to co-op­er­ate as I have noth­ing to hide,’’ he said in the state­ment.

The doc­u­ment pro­vides for the first time Kush­ner’s own rec­ol­lec­tion of a meet­ing at Trump Tower with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the U.S. to talk about se­cure lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and, months ear­lier, of a gath­er­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer who was said to have dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion to pro­vide about Hil­lary Clin­ton.

In the doc­u­ment, Kush­ner calls the June 2016 meet­ing at Trump Tower with Rus­sian lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya such a “waste of time’’ that he asked his as­sis­tant to call him out of the gath­er­ing.

AP PHOTO

White House se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner, cen­tre, and his at­tor­ney Abbe Lowell, right, de­part Capi­tol Hill in Washington, Monday.

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