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Kushner to tell Senate panel he didn’t collude, Trump tears into Republicans

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will tell a Senate committee that he did not collude with any foreign government even though he had four meetings with the Russians.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2017 21:57 IST
Yashwant Raj
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives for his appearance before a closed session of the Senate intelligence committee as part of the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 24, 2017.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives for his appearance before a closed session of the Senate intelligence committee as part of the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 24, 2017. (Reuters)

The US President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will tell a Senate committee he had four meetings with the Russians in 2016 but “did not collude…with any foreign government”, as Donald Trump sought to pressure Republicans by saying they were not doing enough to “protect their president”.

In a tweet just before Kushner was scheduled to testify in a closed-door meeting of the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee, Trump asked, “Why aren't the committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?”

“Our beleaguered AG” is Jeff Sessions, who has been a target of Trump’s simmering ire, now in full public view after he unloaded on Sessions in a recent interview for recusing himself from the Russia probe. Trump has said the recusal was “extremely unfair…to the president”.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “It's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.” Though the precise reason for his gripe was not cited, the tweet followed one in which he spoke of the “phony Russian Witch Hunt”.

Both sets of tweets came just ahead of Kushner and his eldest son Donald Trump Jr appearing before Republican-led Senate committees for intelligence and judiciary, investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election to help Trump win, something the president has continued to question.

“I did not collude, nor know of anyone elsein the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner is expected to tell the intelligence committee in 11 pages of prepared remarks made available to US media outlets ahead of the testimony on Monday.

“I had no improper contacts (and) Ihave not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector,” he would add.

Kushner has admitted to four meetings with Russians, emphasiing in every instance they were not initiated or solicited by him or the Trump campaign or the transition team. He pointed out that none of the meetings “were impactful in any way to the election orparticularly memorable”.

The four meetings included one set up by Trump Jr with the Russian lawyer who had offered campaign dirt on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as part of the Kremlin-led effort to help Trump win the election. Kushner says he found that part of the meeting he attended so pointless he had himself called out of it.

Kushner dwelt at some length on his December 1 meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which had generated a lot of controversy. He was reported to have sought a secret back channel communication system with the Kremlin based in a Russian facility in the US to evade American intelligence.

Kislyak had sought a secure communications line for his “generals” in Russia to convey some information to the Trump transition team on Syria, Kushner said, adding he or Gen Mike Flynn, who attended the meeting, said they didn’t have one at the time.

“I asked if they hadan existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would becomfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn,” he plans to tell the committee. Kislyak replied that was not possible, so they all agreed to wait till Trump’s inauguration.

Kushner also addressed questions about not reporting his foreign contacts on an application form he filled for the security clearance he needed as a senior advisor to the president, an official position. He attributed it to “accidental early submission” following miscommunication between his assistants.