Time to Reexamine the Other Meetings Kushner had with Russians
Jared Kushner first came under scrutiny by the FBI last Fall, when intelligence reports of Flynn’s contacts with Russians included mentions of US citizens. Since the names were redacted, investigators had to ask US intelligence agencies to unmask the names. Kushner was one of the names revealed. We now know that Kushner had already met with Russians six months earlier at Trump Tower, in a meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. As we learned from the recent revelations about that meeting, Kushner doesn’t release any information on his contacts until he is sure the FBI already knows about it.
On January 18, 2017, Kushner submitted his SF86 form. Three months later we the NY Times reported that Kushner had declared no foreign contacts on his security clearance forms. He claimed his assistant had mistakenly hit send before the form was completed. This makes no sense as it requires multiple password entries to submit the form, not just clicking on a send button. On May 11, 2017, Kushner submitted a revised form, just before his first FBI interview on his SF86 form. On June 21, 2017, Kushner filed more revisions to his SF86 form. This time he finally disclosed the meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer. On June 23, 2017, Kusher was interviewed for a second time about his SF86 form. This sequence of events would suggest that Kushner lied to the FBI at his first interview in May about the meeting with the Russian lawyer in June 2016.
In May Reuters revealed that Jared Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. The new contacts revealed were two phone calls between April and November last year. Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said Kushner did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November. But in July we found out the real extent of Kushner’s amnesia, when NBC News reported that he updated his list of foreign contacts on federal disclosure form 3 times, adding more than 100 names of foreign contacts by that time. As the details from the Don Jr. meeting continue to drip out, there are only two other Kushner meetings we have any real details on.
Kushner’s Meeting with Ambassador Kislyak
On March 2, 2017, the White House admitted that Kushner and Flynn had met Kislyak at Trump Tower in December, but played down the significance of the meeting. It wasn’t until May 26, that the Washington post broke the story of what was really discussed at the meeting. The post revealed that Kushner and Flynn had suggested a secret communications back channel to Kislyak.
The discussion involved using Russian consulate equipment in order to bypass US intelligence agencies, and create a secret communications channel between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters was first to report that the proposed back channel was discussed between Flynn and Kislyak. The Washington Post was first to report that Kushner participated in that conversation. The Post reported that US intelligence officials said that neither the meeting, nor the communications of Americans involved, were under US surveillance, and we have received few additional details since the story broke.
Kushner’s Meeting with Sergey Gorkov
On March 27, 2017 we learned that Kushner met with the head of Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), also in December, 2016. The man he met with was Sergei Gorkov, a trained intelligence officer appointed by Putin. Gorkov graduated in 1994 from the university of the FSB.
VEB is no normal bank. It is wholly owned by the Russian state. It is intertwined with Russian intelligence. And the Russian prime minister is, by law, the chairman of its supervisory board. VEB has no bank license, its board are all Russian government officials, and it has no capital except Russian government funds.
After the meeting was disclosed, the White House and VEB issued contradictory statements about the purpose of the Gorkov meeting. The White House said that Kushner was acting in his capacity as a transition official. VEB said Gorkov had met with Kushner to discuss business. A month later, Reuters reported that Kushner was told at the meeting that if Trump ended sanctions, it would lead to Russian banks offering financing to people with ties to Trump. Within 24 hours of his meeting with Kushner, Sergey Gorkov flew to Japan and met with Putin.
The one thing the disclosure of information on all three meeting have in common, is that the initial statements from the White House have played down their significance, while subsequent reporting in all has revealed much more nefarious reasons for all the meetings. The pattern of lies, not only to the public, but to the FBI, suggests there are many more meetings we don’t know about. It may be many months before we get more details, as Mueller has kept a pretty tight lid on his investigations.
Last week, we did get one more hint of the scope of Mueller’s investigation, and the depth to which Kushner may have colluded with the Russian government. McClatchy Washington Bureau reported that Mueller is looking for evidence that Kushner’s digital operation shared voter info with the Russian’s to allow them to better target fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton.