Breaking News Emails
Jared Kushner told reporters Monday he had done nothing wrong, that no collusion with Russia had taken place, and that his father-in-law won in November because he ran a better campaign than Hillary Clinton — not because he got help from Moscow.
"Let me be very clear. I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so," Kushner, a senior presidential adviser, said at a podium in front of the White House after more than two hours of questions behind closed doors from staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"Records and documents I’ve provided will show all of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events in a very unique campaign," he said. "I had no improper contacts, I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses, and I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information."
Breaking News Emails
He added, "Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign and that is why he won. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him."
Earlier in the day, before Kushner was interviewed by the committee staff, he released an 11-page statement detailing four contacts with Russians during the election and transition and denying any collusion with Moscow.
Among the meetings with Russian officials he addressed in his written statement was a June 2016 sit-down that included Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. In his statement, Kushner said that meeting was such a "waste of time" that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering.
Ahead of that meeting, Donald Trump Jr. had been promised potentially damaging information about Clinton, according to emails he released earlier this month — although the president's son has said the meeting did not produce any information and that Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss an adoption program of Russian children.
Democrats have pounced on the meeting as evidence that Trump Jr. was willing to collude with a foreigner purporting to have information tied to the Russian government to help his father's presidential campaign and influence the results of the election.
Kushner said in his initial Monday statement that he had not spoken to the lawyer since. "I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently," he said.
In his statement, Kushner said his first meeting with a Russian official came in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Following a speech there by then-candidate Trump about foreign policy, the event’s host, Dimitri Simes, introduced Kushner "to several guests, among them four ambassadors, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak."
Kushner wrote of two additional meetings with Russian officials, both which occurred after Trump won.
A Dec. 1 meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower "lasted twenty- thirty minutes," where "Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret.), who became the President's National Security Advisor" was also present, Kushner said he "stated our desire for a fresh start in relations. Also, as I had done in other meetings with foreign officials, I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President," he wrote.
Kushner, in his statement, also wrote of a Dec. 13 meeting with Sergey Gorkov, who Kislyak had said "was a banker and someone with a direct line to the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together."
"I agreed to meet Mr. Gorkov because the Ambassador has been so insistent, said he had a direct relationship with the President, and because Mr. Gorkov was only in New York for a couple days," Kushner wrote.
"As I did at the meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, I expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met. There were no specific policies discussed. We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration," Kushner wrote.
NBC News had reported in June that members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees proving Russian interference might be looking into whether Kushner had been looking for a customer in Moscow to buy the massively expensive 41-story tower at 666 Fifth Avenue from his family's real estate company.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Russia's alleged attempted interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the covert operation was intended to damage Clinton's campaign and evolved into an attempt to help Trump win.
Kushner arrived at Capitol Hill for his interviews around 9:40 a.m., and did not respond to questions being shouted by reporters.
He emerged more than two hours later, responding to more shouted questions from reporters that his interviews had gone "very well" and that he had answered "as many (questions) as they had." He later spoke to reporters in front of the White House at a podium with the White House seal on it.
His interview took place in a special area used for classified briefings and meetings called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. The SCIF is on the second floor of the Hart Senate Office Building, the same place where the Intelligence Committee has held recent interviews with James Clapper, Denis McDonough and Susan Rice.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate panel, said Monday there was a "broad bipartisan expectation" that Kushner would be called before the committee again.
On Tuesday, Kushner will appear before the House Intelligence Committee and will be interviewed under oath behind closed doors by the panel's members.
Meanwhile, Trump Jr. and former campaign manager Paul Manafort have agreed to be interviewed by staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee but will not appear at a public hearing next week, the committee has said. The Judiciary Committee had requested that both appear at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, and threatened to issue subpoenas if they had refused.