Turns out that not only did plenty of Trump campaign folks try to get an off-the-books secret Trump/Putin meeting going during the 2016 campaign, but plenty of Russian nationals did too, like the deputy governor of Russia's central bank, and once again Jared Kushner is at the center.
A senior Russian official who claimed to be acting at the behest of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia tried in May 2016 to arrange a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald J. Trump, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The news of this reached the Trump campaign in a very circuitous way. An advocate for Christian causes emailed campaign aides saying that Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank who has been linked both to Russia’s security services and organized crime, had proposed a meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. The subject line of the email, turned over to Senate investigators, read, “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite,” according to one person who has seen the message.
The proposal made its way to the senior levels of the Trump campaign before Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a top campaign aide, sent a message to top campaign officials rejecting it, according to two people who have seen Mr. Kushner’s message.
Though the meeting never happened, Mr. Torshin’s request is the latest example of how the Russian government intensified its effort to contact and influence the Trump campaign last year as Mr. Trump was closing in on the Republican presidential nomination. It came just weeks after a self-described intermediary for the Russian government told a Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, that the Russians had “dirt” on Mr. Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, in the form of “thousands of emails.”
Soon after Mr. Torshin’s outreach fizzled, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, arranged a meeting at Trump Tower after being told that a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin would bring damaging information about Mrs. Clinton to the meeting.
Yet another unreported contact between the Trump campaign and Putin's circle of oligarchs, and Trump campaign officials keep scrambling to get out of the way of being involved in any way with these series of contacts. Jared Kushner, has suddenly developed selective amnesia on a number of issues it seems.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told congressional Russia investigators that he did not communicate with WikiLeaks and did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign who had, a source with knowledge of his testimony told CNN.
But Kushner did receive and forward an email from Donald Trump Jr. about contact Trump Jr. had with WikiLeaks, according to a new report this week and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, was asked in July during his closed-door congressional testimony if he had any contacts with WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange and he responded that he had not, according to the source. He also told Congress he did not know of anyone on the campaign who had contacted WikiLeaks.
A separate source familiar with Kushner's interview with congressional investigators said he accurately answered questions about his contact and didn't recall anyone else in the campaign who had contact.
In a statement Friday night, Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell said the committee had asked "a classic gotcha question.
"Mr. Kushner was asked if he had contacts with Wikileaks, Guccifer or DC Leaks and said no. He also said he did not know of such contacts by the campaign. From all I have now seen, his statement was accurate then as it is now. In over 6 hours of voluntary testimony, Mr Kushner answered all questions put to him and demonstrated that there had been no collusion between the campaign and Russia."
But Democrats are likely to amplify calls for Kushner to return for more testimony on the heels of a letter on Thursday from Senate Judiciary Committee leaders that charged Kushner failed to turn over certain documents on a range of topics to the committee, including those related to WikiLeaks.
Every week it seems we learn about yet another contact with Trump's inner circle to Putin's inner circle that they "forgot" about for a year. Mueller on the other hand, well, he's not in the forgetting business. Every week, these contacts get closer and closer to Trump himself.