Politics

Jared Kushner, After Intel Meeting, Denies Russia Impropriety

Trump son-in-law says no collusion with Kremlin during 2016 race

Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, leaves the Hart Senate Office Building on Monday after his interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 5:15 p.m. | Following nearly three hours of testimony before Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on Monday, senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner stood outside the White House and denied colluding with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, saying all of his actions were both legal and proper.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law defended himself during rare public remarks just outside the executive mansion’s West Wing, saying: “I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.”

“I had no improper contacts” during the campaign and transition period, Kushner said under a hot July sun, adding, “I have not relied on Russian funds for my business.”

[Kushner to Tell Senators ‘I Did Not Collude’ With Russians]

Kushner briefly spoke of his six-month White House tenure in the past tense, causing some reporters in the steamy West Wing driveway to wonder if he was announcing his departure.

He said it “has been the honor and the privilege of a lifetime,” and described himself as “honored to work on important matters such as Middle East peace and reinvigorating America’s innovative spirit.” But he quickly returned to the present tense and his denial of any wrongdoing.

Kushner described himself as having “been consistent” for months in saying he would share “any information that I have with the investigative bodies.”

“And I’ve done so today,” he said of his testimony and documents he made sure to point out he “voluntarily” turned over to the Senate panel.

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“The records and documents I have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper and occurred in the course of events of a very unique campaign,” he said, adding that he has provided investigators “all requested information.”

After Senate Intel staff questioned Kushner behind closed doors, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on that panel, said Kushner will likely be asked to return.

“There’s broad bipartisan expectation that we’ll want to hear from Mr. Kushner again,” he told reporters Monday.

Asked whether transcripts of today’s discussion would be made public, Warner said the panel is following an appropriate process.

“You might have later witnesses that would look at that transcript and potentially even alter answers,” he said. “Members of the committee have access to that transcript.”

Kushner contended that Russia did not help his father-in-law pull off what political experts still call a major upset against Hillary Clinton.

“Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign. And that is why he won,” he said. “To suggest otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.”

In prepared remarks leaked Monday morning, the presidential son-in-law told the committee that neither he nor other Trump campaign staffers had illegal or ethically questionable contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign or the subsequent transition period. His testimony was not under oath.

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“I did not collude,” Kushner told the panel in his written testimony, which cast his contacts with Russian officials as routine and innocent.

About that June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower set up by his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian lawyer, Kushner said he knew little about the topic. He gave no indication he knew that Trump Jr. was told the lawyer was coming with Kremlin-supplied dirt on Clinton. And he told the Senate staffers he left early.

And Kushner contended his first — and brief — interaction with the Russian ambassador to the United States came during an event and only because he was introduced to Sergey Kislyak. He acknowledged meeting a Russian banker during the transition period to attempt to set up a direct line to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but only in the spirit of his father-in-law’s campaign-trail call for warmer U.S.-Russia relations.

Kushner arrived at the Hart Senate Office Building shortly after 9:40 a.m. to deliver his testimony and answer the panel’s questions.

He avoided tough questions from senators, however, as the hearing was run by committee staffers.

Kushner emerged from the hearing just before 12:30 p.m., ignoring questions and narrowly avoiding a protestor waving a Russian flag who called the president the “traitor in chief.”

Patrick Kelley and Joe Williams contributed to this report.Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.