Trump son-in-law: ‘I’ve noth­ing to hide’ on Rus­sian col­lu­sion claims

● Kush­ner is first of the pres­i­dent’s in­ner cir­cle to face Con­gress ques­tions

The Scotsman - - World News - By MARY CLARE JALONICK

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

Mr Kush­ner spoke to staff mem­bers of the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee for nearly three hours be­hind closed doors 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.”

Mr Kush­ner left with­out tak­ing ques­tions. In an 11-page state­ment, re­leased hours be­fore the Capi­tol ses­sion, he de­tailed four con­tacts with Rus­sians dur­ing Mr 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, Mr Kush­ner said none of his con­tacts – which in­cluded meet­ings at Trump Tower with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador and a Rus­sian lawyer – was im­proper.

He ar­rived yes­ter­day morn­ing at a Se­nate of­fice build­ing, ex­it­ing a black 4x4 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, Mr 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 politi­cians on the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee later to­day.

Mr 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.

In his state­ment he said: “I have shown to­day that I am will­ing to do so and will con­tinue to co-op­er­ate as I have noth­ing to hide.”

The doc­u­ment pro­vides for the first time Mr Kush­ner’s own rec­ol­lec­tion of a meet­ing at Trump Tower with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the US 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, Mr 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.

Emails re­leased this month show that the pres­i­dent’s son, Don­ald Trump Jr, ac­cepted the meet­ing with the idea that he would re­ceive in­for­ma­tion as part of a Rus­sian govern­ment ef­fort to help Trump’s cam­paign. But Mr Kush­ner said he had not seen those emails un­til re­cently shown them by his lawyers.

Mr Kush­ner said that Mr Trump Jr in­vited him to the meet­ing. He said he ar­rived late and when he heard the lawyer dis­cussing the is­sue of adop­tions, he texted his as­sis­tant to call him out.

“No part of the meet­ing I at­tended in­cluded any­thing about the cam­paign, there was no fol­low-up to the meet­ing that I am aware of, I do not re­call how many peo­ple were there, (or their names), and I have no knowl­edge of any doc­u­ments be­ing of­fered or ac­cepted,” he said.

Mr Kush­ner also de­nied re­ports he dis­cussed set­ting up a “se­cret back-chan­nel” with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the US. But he did de­tail a con­ver­sa­tion with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador, Sergey Kislyak, about es­tab­lish­ing a se­cure line for com­mu­ni­ca­tion about pol­icy in Syria.

PIC­TURE: PABLO MARTINEZ MON­SI­VAIS/AP

0 Jared Kush­ner spoke to re­porters out­side the White House af­ter his meet­ing with the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee

0 Jared Kush­ner, cen­tre, with his at­tor­ney Abbe Low­ell, right

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