Kushner denies colluding with Russia

After speaking to lawmakers on Capitol Hill about his contacts with Russia, President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner makes a statement from the White House saying, 'all of my actions were proper'.
White House senior adviser and Mr Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner (centre) arriving for his appearance before a closed-door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington yesterday as part of its probe into Russian
White House senior adviser and Mr Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner (centre) arriving for his appearance before a closed-door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington yesterday as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.PHOTO: REUTERS

He releases 11-page statement ahead of closed-door meeting with Senate panel

Mr Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has released a statement ahead of a closed-door meeting with senators, rejecting allegations of collusion with Russia during his father-in-law's election campaign.

"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," the 11-page statement concluded. "I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector."

He mentioned a total of four meetings with Russians, including with Russia's ambassador in Washington, whom he met fleetingly in the company of other ambassadors, he said. And he attended a meeting in June last year with a Russian lawyer who was offering Mr Trump's son, Mr Donald Trump Jr, information damaging to his father's rival, Mrs Hillary Clinton, without fully understanding what it was about and came to the quick conclusion that it was a waste of time and contrived to get out of the meeting.

Mr Kushner also challenged a Reuters report that he had two calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak some time between April and November last year, saying he could not recall them, records did not show them and he was "highly sceptical these calls took place".

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"A comprehensive review of my landline and cellphone records from the time does not reveal those calls. I had no ongoing relationship with the ambassador before the election, and had limited knowledge about him then. In fact... the day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian ambassador," the statement said.

Mr Kushner is due to appear at a closed-door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia's alleged influence on last year's election campaign. Mr Trump Jr and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort have been asked to turn over relevant documents to the committee as well, and may be asked to testify under oath.

Mr Trump yesterday blasted the investigation into his alleged Russia ties, asking in a Twitter message, "So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillary's crimes & Russia relations?", referring to Attorney- General Jeff Sessions.

NO IMPROPER CONTACTS

I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.

MR JARED KUSHNER, rejecting allegations of collusion with Russia during his father-in-law's election campaign, in his 11-page statement.

FOUND EXCUSE TO LEAVE

I actually e-mailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for 10 or so minutes and wrote, 'Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.' I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently.

MR KUSHNER, relating how he had looked for a polite way to get out of the meeting with the Russian lawyer.

In another tweet, Mr Trump wrote, "After 1 year of investigation with zero evidence being found, Chuck Schumer just stated that 'Democrats should blame ourselves, not Russia,' " referring to the Senate Minority Leader.

United States intelligence agencies say Russia was behind a hack of the Democratic Party's database and the subsequent leak of e-mails. That Russia may have influenced the election - and allegations that there may have been active collusion with Russia by key people in his camp - has been a sore point with President Trump.

The allegations have so far led to the resignation of his first national security adviser Michael Flynn and the recusal of Mr Sessions from an FBI probe after they failed to disclose meetings with Russian contacts. Adding fuel, details emerged this month of the meeting the President's son had with the Russian lawyer in June last year.

In his statement, Mr Kushner, who was also called to the meeting by his brother-in-law, said: "I actually e-mailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for 10 or so minutes and wrote, 'Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.' I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Kushner denies colluding with Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe