Kushner returns for second day of grilling
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner will return to Capitol Hill for a second day of private meetings with congressional investigators, this time for a closed-door conversation with the House intelligence committee.
Kushner answered questions on Monday from staff on the Senate’s intelligence panel, acknowledging four meetings with Russians during and after Trump’s victorious White House bid and insisting he had “nothing to hide”.
He emerged smiling to publicly declare: “All of my actions were proper.”
Kushner is the first top Trump lieutenant to be quizzed by the congressional investigators probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Hours before the Senate meeting, Kushner released an 11-page statement that was billed as his remarks to both the Senate and House committees.
He acknowledged his Russian contacts during the campaign and in the following weeks, in which he served as a liaison between the transition and foreign governments.
He described each contact as either insignificant or routine and he said the meetings, along with several others, were omitted from his security clearance form because of an aide’s error.
“Let me be very clear,” Kushner said afterward in a rare public statement at the White House, “I did not collude with Russia nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.”
Kushner’s statement was the first detailed defence from a campaign insider responding to the controversy that has all but consumed the first six months of Trump’s presidency.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia sought to tip the 2016 campaign in Trump’s favour.
Congressional committees, as well as a Justice Department special counsel, are investigating whether Trump associates co-ordinated with Russia in that effort and whether the president has sought to hamper the investigations.
Kushner said on Monday he “will continue to co-operate as I have nothing to hide”.
Trump watched on TV as Kushner made his appearance outside the West Wing and “thought Jared did a great job”, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
She said his House testimony on Tuesday would show “what a hoax this entire thing is”.
In the statement for the two committees, Kushner provided for the first time his recollection of a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Emails released this month show the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, accepted the meeting with the idea he would receive information as part of a Russian government effort to help Trump’s campaign.
But Kushner said he had not seen those emails until recently shown them by his lawyers.
He called the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya such a “waste of time” he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering.