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Trump Son-in-Law Denies Collusion With Moscow

By Michael Bowman, Chris Hannas July 24, 2017

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, denied Monday that he or anyone else with the Trump campaign had any improper contacts with Russia leading up to or after the 2016 election.

"I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so," Kushner said at the White House in a brief statement after answering questions in a closed-door meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators, the first of two congressional interviews for Kushner this week.

"I had no improper contacts," Kushner said. "I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses, and I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information." He said that all of his "actions were proper, and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign."

The president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and former campaign manager Paul Manafort are also sharing information with another panel, the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, also an adviser to her father, told reporters that "serving the president and the people of the United States has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work on important matters such as Middle East peace, and reinvigorating America's innovative spirit." He took no questions from reporters.

In a written statement issued before his appearance on Capitol Hill, Kushner confirmed that he, the younger Trump and Manafort met with a Russian lawyer and other figures tied to Moscow last June, but asserted he arrived late to the meeting and heard no discussions of the presidential campaign.

That meeting has become a focal point for numerous investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election aimed at helping Trump win after his son Donald Jr. released emails expressing eagerness for what he expected the Russian attorney would provide: incriminating material about Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump's 2016 election opponent.

No mention of key events

Kushner's statement made no mention of some key events that are pertinent to the Russia probe, including President Trump's firing of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, who was leading the agency's Russia probe before Special Counsel Robert Mueller, another former FBI director, took over.

Kushner's statement does not rule out the possibility of Russian election interference, which the U.S. intelligence community has concluded was directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rather, it asserts that Kushner himself had no interactions or knowledge about plots from Moscow by himself or anyone else.

Congressional reaction

Kushner's closed-door cooperation with congressional committee's whetted some lawmakers' appetites for public testimony.

"Kushner's statement … raises far more questions than it answers," said Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. "It is imperative that the public hear Jared Kushner testify in an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee, under oath, and support his claims with full transparency in the form of emails, documents and financial records.

"There should be no presumption that he is telling the whole truth in this statement," Wyden added.

As Kushner left Capitol Hill after Monday's closed door testimony, he was approached by a protester who tried to give Kushner a Russian flag.

Trump attacks probe

Meanwhile, President Trump once again assailed the Russia probe.

"So why aren't the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G. [Jeff Sessions], looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump last week rebuked Sessions for removing himself from Justice Department oversight of the agency's Russia investigation, which led to the appointment of Mueller.

Trump Jr, Manafort testimony postponed

Donald Trump Jr. and Manafort were initially scheduled to appear this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But that testimony has been postponed based on an understanding that the two men will provide the committee with records and other information.

With the Russia investigations now scrutinizing those closest to Trump, questions have arisen about possible presidential pardons. Trump's legal team noted the Constitution grants the president broad pardoning powers, but insisted that nothing is being contemplated.

At the same time, the White House insisted the news media's focus on the Russia probe is misguided.

"The top three issues that Americans care about are immigration, health care, and jobs," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday, also on "This Week." "The top three issues that the media cares about are Russia, Russia, and Russia."

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