The president’s son-in-law has agreed to appear before the Senate intelligence committee to answer questions regarding Trump’s ties to Russia. Kushner met with executives of a sanctioned Russian bank during the campaign.
Jared Kushner has agreed to be interviewed by the senators of the intelligence committee as part of their investigation into whether the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the White House confirmed on Monday.
Committee members are seeking to question the 36-year old in his role as Trump’s main intermediary with foreign governments during his campaign.
“Mr. Kushner will certainly not be the last person the committee calls to give testimony, but we expect him to be able to provide answers to key questions that have arisen in our inquiry,” committee chairman, Republican Richard Burr, and vice-chair Mark Warner, a Democrat, said in a joint statement.
Meetings with sanctioned bankers
The panel is particularly interested in two meetings Kushner set up with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and in a talk between Kushner and the head of state-owned Russian development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), the “New York Times” reported.
VEB confirmed to news agency RIA on Monday that its executives had held meetings with Kushner. These talks took place “in the format of a strategy development roadshow”, RIA said.
A December meeting between Kushner and Kislyak at Trump Tower in New York was reportedly also attended by Michael Flynn. Trump’s short-lived national security advisor resigned in February, after it was revealed that he had misrepresented his conversations with Kislyak. Flynn allegedly hinted to the ambassador that the US might lift the sanctions against Russia under Trump.
VEB is among the banks affected by sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Kushner highest-ranking official questioned
Kushner is considered one of Trump’s key advisors in the West Wing. The president’s son-in-law was recently named head of a newly created Office of Innovation.
He is the fourth associate of Trump’s whom congressional committees are planning to question in their attempt to look into allegations that the president’s campaign team colluded with Russia. The other three were members of the Trump campaign team, but – unlike Kushner – do not hold any positions in the current administration: former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and campaign advisers Carter Page and Roger Stone.
While it is not unusual for staff of a presidential candidate to meet with foreign officials while seeking election, the Trump campaign has faced questions about whether its talks with Russian officials could have violated any laws.
US intelligence believes that the Kremlin tried to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of the president, orchestrating the hacking of Democratic Party computers and releasing information harmful to then-candidate Hillary Clinton. Both the Kremlin and the Trump administration have denied these allegations.
The FBI, along with both of the intelligence committees in the House and the Senate, is currently conducting an investigation into the matter.
The validity of the House investigation in particular has been questioned because the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Republican Devin Nunes, was a member of Trump’s presidential transition team. Critics have said that casts doubt on whether he can lead an independent probe.
mb/gsw (AFP, AP, Reuters)