Trump son-in-law Kushner denies collusion with Russia

2017-07-24 13:15
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

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Washington - Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner is denying that President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, saying in a statement ahead of congressional interviews that he has "nothing to hide."

The 11-page statement provided to The Associated Press by a representative on Monday details four contacts with Russians during Trump's campaign and transition. Kushner plans to deliver the statement during closed-door meetings with investigators on the Senate and House intelligence panels this week.

Kushner is meeting with staff on the Senate committee on Monday and lawmakers on the House committee on Tuesday as part of both panels' investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and possible links to the Trump campaign.

Fierce denial

Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter, Ivanka, says none of the contacts was improper. He also denies that Russians finance any of his business in the private sector.

"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," Kushner said in the statement.

In it, he also details a June 2016 meeting with a Russian-American lawyer and says it was 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 jnr, accepted the meeting at Trump Tower with the idea that he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But Kushner says he hadn't seen those emails until recently shown them by his lawyers.

Kushner said in his statement that Trump jnr invited him to the meeting. He says 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," Kushner's statement says.

Secret back-channel

Kushner also denies reports he discussed setting up a secret back-channel with the Russian ambassador to the US.

He said he did speak with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower. But he says that conversation was about policy in Syria.

Kushner says that when Kislyak asked if there was a secure line for him to provide information on Syria from what Kislyak called his "generals," Kushner asked if there was an existing communications channel at the embassy that could be used. Kushner says he never proposed an ongoing secret form of communication.

He also says he met with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, at the request of Kislyak. But he says no specific policies were discussed.

Trump jnr and Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was also at the June 2016 meeting, were scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. But on Friday their attorneys said they remained in negotiations with that panel.

The two men are now in discussions to be privately interviewed by staff or lawmakers, though the GOP chair of the committee, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, has said they will eventually testify in public.

The president took to Twitter over the weekend to defend himself and repeat his criticism of the investigations.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!"

Read more on:    donald trump  |  jared kushner  |  us  |  russia

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