Ahead of his meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff, Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner released a statement Monday explaining several details about his contacts with Russians – all while denying collusion with Moscow during the presidential election.
"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," he said. "I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to filing my SF-86 form above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest."
Here are a few things we learned:
1. He had four contacts with Russians
By Kushner's count, he had four contacts with Russians during Donald Trump's campaign and transition. He met twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, once with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov and once with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
2. He can recall two meetings with Kislyak
The Russian ambassador has been at the center of the controversy surrounding the Trump team and Russia. Conversations and meetings with him have led to the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the probe into Russia's interference in the presidential election, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia.
Kushner said he confirmed meeting Kislyak during an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel. He noted that the meeting also included three other ambassadors.
His second meeting with Kislyak took place in December.
3. He confirmed that he asked for a secure communications line
During the December meeting, at which Flynn was also present, Kushner asked if a secure communications line existed at the Russian embassy that would allow "generals" from Russia to discuss U.S. policy in Syria. The ambassador said this was not possible, so the information would be transferred after the inauguration. In this, Kushner appears to confirm May reports that he inquired about using Russian diplomatic facilities for these communications; these reports cited U.S. officials quoting who reviewed intercepts of Russian communications, in which Kislyak was taken aback by the unusual suggestion.
Yet Kushner disputed the characterization of his inquiries, which he said never came to fruition. "I did not suggest a 'secret back channel,'" he said. "I did not suggest an ongoing secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office. I did not raise the possibility of using the embassy or any other Russian facility for any purpose other than this one possible conversation in the transition period."
4. He confirmed meeting with a Russian businessman with ties to a sanctioned bank
The meeting happened at the insistence of Kislyak, Kushner said. Sergey Gorkov is an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the state-owned Vnesheconombank, which was subject to sanctions imposed by President Obama back in 2014.
Despite Gorkov's ties, Kushner said there were no specific policies discussed, including those sanctions. Instead, they spoke of Putin's desire for better relations with the United States.
"At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or private business of any kind," he said.
5. He blamed his assistant for the problems with his security clearance
In the whirlwind of the presidential transition, which he said included separating himself from his company, moving to Washington and completing paperwork to divest assets, Kushner said that an incomplete draft of his security clearance form was sent to his assistant.
His assistant interpreted a message to meant that the form was complete and submitted the draft, which did not include a list of Kushner's foreign government contacts. The list was submitted later as a supplement.
"It has been reported that my submission omitted only contacts with Russians," he said. "That is not the case. In the accidental early submission of the form, all foreign contacts were omitted."
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