More new developments this week on the Trump/Russia front as White House "adviser" and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner lawyers up to talk to Congress...behind closed doors and not under oath, of course.
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, spent two hours Monday answering questions from Senate investigators about his contacts with Russian officials, as the various probes into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign entered a new phase involving some of those closest to Trump.
After his closed-door questioning, Kushner spoke briefly to reporters outside the White House.
“Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” 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.
“Since the first questions were raised in March, I have been consistent in saying I was eager to share whatever information I have with investigating bodies, and I have done so today,’’ he said. “All of my actions were proper.’’
Legal experts expect that all of Kushner’s answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee will be shared with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is conducting a separate investigation of potential criminal activity surrounding Russian meddling and key figures in the Trump campaign.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president “was very proud of Jared for voluntarily going to the Hill and being very transparent with every interaction that he’s had. He thought Jared did a great job and was very glad that he was able to go through that process and lay everything out and I think show the members of that committee as well as everybody else what a witch hunt and hoax this whole thing is.’’
There are holes in that statement Donald Trump could drive a fire truck through, frankly. Kushner knows it, Congress knows it, and Robert Mueller knows it. I'm betting Mueller knows otherwise. What Kushner did say was that Donald Trump Jr. was basically the bad guy in all this, cavalierly tossing Trump's son under the Mueller bus and dusting off his hands. As far as the White House is concerned, this is all over now, right?
The only other Russian contact during the campaign is one I did not recall at all until I was reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information. In June 2016, my brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. asked if I was free to stop by a meeting on June 9 at 3:00 p.m. The campaign was headquartered in the same building as his office in Trump Tower, and it was common for each of us to swing by the other's meetings when requested. He eventually sent me his own email changing the time of the meeting to 4:00 p.m. That email was on top of a long back and forth that I did not read at the time. As I did with most emails when I was working remotely, I quickly reviewed on my iPhone the relevant message that the meeting would occur at 4:00 PM at his office. Documents confirm my memory that this was calendared as "Meeting: Don Jr.| Jared Kushner." No one else was mentioned.
I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten 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. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. 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. Finally, after seeing the email, I disclosed this meeting prior to it being reported in the press on a supplement to my security clearance form, even if that was not required as meeting the definitions of the form.
Kushner hung Trump's own son out to dry, and it looks like he might even get away with it. For now.
Oh, and it seems our pro-Russian House GOP friend Dana Rohrabacher has Russian problems of his own now.
A new complaint filed with the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control alleges that California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and his staff director, Paul Behrends, violated the Magnitsky Act when they tried to get Russia's deputy general prosecutor, Victor Grin, removed from the US sanctions list last year.
The complaint was filed by US financier Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, who spearheaded the Magnitsky Act in 2012 to punish Russian officials suspected of being involved in the death of his accountant, Sergey Magnitsky.
Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme in 2008 when he was working for Hermitage that implicated high-level Kremlin officials and allies of President Vladimir Putin. He was later thrown in jail by the same Interior Ministry officers he testified against during criminal proceedings to punish those involved in the tax scheme, Browder said in 2015, and died in custody after being held for 358 days.
Browder's complaint rests largely on a Daily Beast report published last week alleging that Rohrabacher, a staunch defender of Russia and Putin, met with officials from the prosecutor general’s office in Moscow in April 2016. The report said he accepted a "confidential" document that Rohrabacher then used to try to undermine the Magnitsky Act on Capitol Hill.
"Changing attitudes to the Magnitsky story in the Congress ... could have a very favorable response from the Russian side," the document said, according to the Daily Beast.
Considering the House is expected to overwhelmingly approve even more sanctions on Russia today, Rohrabacher is not in a good place right now. He's not Trump, he's not in the White House, and he's not going to be able to dodge things for much longer.
Eventually the truth comes out.
BREAKING: Senate Judiciary Committee issues subpoena for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to testify.— The Associated Press (@AP) July 25, 2017
Gonna be a fun time ahead.