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
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.
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