In a statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees in advance of his private testimonies this week, Jared Kushner has confirmed his attendance at four previously reported meetings with Russian officials, including Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer. President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law provides his recollections of those meetings, denies two phone calls that Reuters reported on earlier this year, defends the incomplete filing of his SF-86 form, and closes by saying:
I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.
The statement confirms Kushner’s attendance at a meeting with the Russian banker Sergey Gorkov; a brief encounter and a later meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak; and his attendance at Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others. He denies two reported calls with Kislyak, which Reuters said occurred in April and November 2016.
Of the Trump Jr. meeting, Kushner writes that he was unaware of the topics intended for discussion and that he did not read the full email chain, which began with a message asking to set up the meeting to pass along “obviously very high level and sensitive information” that could damage Hillary Clinton and called that offer “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Kushner’s statement specifically claims that he sent a message to an assistant early into the meeting requesting an excuse for leaving when it became clear that his time was being wasted:
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.
Kushner’s statement additionally makes reference to his inexperience with politics, echoing a now-familiar defense of the Trump campaign’s inappropriate contacts:
Before joining the administration, I worked in the private sector, building and managing companies. My experience was in business, not politics, and it was not my initial intent to play a large role in my father-in-law’s campaign when he decided to run for President. However, as the campaign progressed, I was called on to assist with various tasks and aspects of the campaign, and took on more and more responsibility.
Kushner is set to testify in closed-door sessions with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.