Trump son-in-law de­tails Rus­sia con­tacts, de­nies col­lu­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASHINGTON — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son-in­law and ad­viser Jared Kush­ner was sched­uled to re­turn to Capi­tol Hill on Tues­day for a sec­ond day of pri­vate meet­ings with con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors, this time for a closed­door con­ver­sa­tion with law­mak­ers on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Kush­ner on Mon­day an­swered ques­tions from staff on the Se­nate’s in­tel­li­gence panel, ac­knowl­edg­ing four meet­ings with Rus­sians dur- ing and af­ter Trump’s vic­to­ri­ous White House bid and in­sist­ing he had “noth­ing to hide”. He emerged smil­ing to pub­licly de­clare: “All of my ac­tions were proper.”

A quiet in­sider who gen­er­ally avoids the spot­light, Kush­ner is the first top Trump lieu­tenant to be quizzed by the con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors prob­ing Rus­sia’s med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year.

Rus­sia de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tion and Trump de­nies his cam­paign col­luded with Moscow.

Hours be­fore the Se­nate meet­ing, Kush­ner re­leased an 11-page state­ment that was billed as his re­marks to both the Se­nate and House com­mit­tees. In it, he ac­knowl­edged his Rus­sian con­tacts dur­ing the cam­paign and then the fol­low­ing weeks, in which he served as a li­ai­son be­tween the tran­si­tion and for­eign govern­ments.

He de­scribed each con­tact as ei­ther in­signif­i­cant or rou­tine and he said the meet­ings, along with sev­eral oth­ers, were omit­ted from his se­cu­rity clear­ance form be­cause of an aide’s er­ror. Kush­ner cast him­self as a po­lit­i­cal novice learn­ing in real time to jug­gle “thou­sands of meet­ings and in­ter­ac­tions” in a fast-paced cam­paign.

“Let me be very clear,” Kush­ner said af­ter­ward in a rare pub­lic state­ment at the White House. “I did not col­lude with Rus­sia, nor do I know of any­one else in the cam­paign who did so.”

Kush­ner’s state­ment was the first de­tailed de­fense from a cam­paign in­sider re­spond­ing to the con­tro­versy that has all but con­sumed the first six months of Trump’s pres­i­dency. US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have con­cluded that Rus­sia sought to tip the cam­paign in Trump’s fa­vor.

Con­gres­sional com­mit­tees, as well as a Jus­tice De­part­ment spe­cial coun­sel, are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Trump as­so­ciates co­or­di­nated with Rus­sia in that ef­fort and whether the pres­i­dent has sought to ham- per the in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Kush­ner said on Mon­day he “will con­tinue to co­op­er­ate as I have noth­ing to hide”.

Trump watched on TV as Kush­ner made his ap­pear­ance out­side the West Wing and “thought Jared did a great job”, said White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders. She said his House tes­ti­mony on Tues­day would show “what a hoax this en­tire thing is”.

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