Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner behind Flynn’s Russia outreach: Reports

The court documents give the clearest picture yet of the synchronisation between Michael Flynn and other Trump advisers in contacting Russian officials to influence international policy,

world Updated: Dec 02, 2017 18:27 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Jared Kushner,White House adviser,Michael Flynn case
White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the "very senior transition official" referenced in court papers filed in the Michael Flynn case. (AP file photo)

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was the “very senior official” who directed former national security adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russians over a UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements, according to US media reports.

Flynn, who pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to FBI about his conversations with the then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, has told investigators he was directed by a “very senior official” of the Trump transition team in December 2016 to contact Russians and officials of other countries to stop or delay the vote.

Multiple news organisations have reported the “very senior official” could have been Kushner. The New York real estate mogul, is the administration’s lead official on the West Asia peace process and in charge of an evolving portfolio of responsibilities that includes everything from the Middle East to relations with Canada, Mexico and China.

Kushner has close ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had reportedly reached out to the Trump campaign to help stop the vote on Israeli settlements in the West Bank or delay it as Obama was prepared to let it go through and not veto it.

“On or about December 22, 2016, a very senior member of the Presidential transition team directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution,” prosecutors said in a court document.

Flynn spoke to the Kislyak the same day and informed him of incoming administration’s opposition to the resolution, taking a position contrary to that of Obama, and “requested Russia vote against or delay the resolution”.

Flynn and Kislyak spoke again on December 23, and this time the Russian ambassador told him if the resolution came for a vote, Russia will not oppose it.

Eventually, on December 28, the UNSC resolution passed 14-0 in the 15-member security council, with the US abstaining.

Flynn, who is cooperating with investigators in a plea deal, also mentioned a “senior official” at Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, whom he had consulted on the conversation he had with Kislyak on sanctions imposed by then president Barack Obama in retaliation for Russian meddling in the presidential election.

The identity of the “senior official” remains unclear, with some indicating it was former deputy national security adviser KT McFarland.

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 09:54 IST