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Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner under FBI scrutiny in Russia probe

The focus was on his meetings with Russians, said The Washington Post, which had reported last week investigators were looking at a significant person of interest who is close to the president but had not named anyone.

world Updated: May 26, 2017 19:14 IST
Yashwant  Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
jared Kushner,Donald Trump,Russia
This file photo taken on February 16, 2017 shows Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner arriving to attend US President Donald Trump's press conference at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP File Photo)

Jared Kushner, US president’s son-in-law and most trusted adviser in the White House, has come under scrutiny in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and alleged collusion by Trump campaign aides, media reports said.

The reports made it clear Kushner had not been charged with anything, accused of any wrongdoing -- or that he would be inevitably--and that he was not a “target” of an investigation. The focus was on his meetings with Russians, said The Washington Post, which had reported last week investigators were looking at a significant person of interest who is close to the president but had not named anyone.

There are other people in Trump’s orbit who have had significant contacts with Russians as well, including one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort, a foreign policy adviser Carter Page and, most consequentially, the president’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February.

They continue to be under investigation, but the new focus on Kushner brings the controversy closest yet to the first family — Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump — and the president, who has appeared to be extremely keen to ensure he remained in the clear and stated recently, at the risk of being seen to be throwing his aides under the bus, he can only speak for himself.

Kushner, a real-estate tycoon like his father-in-law, is one of the most powerful figures in the Trump White House holding a broad range of responsibilities from running relations with China, Mexico, spearheading the effort to bring peace to West Asia to upgrading the federal government infrastructure.

When his meeting with Russians were first reported in the rush of disclosures about Flynn and others, Kushner had said he was willing to testify before Congress. Jamie Gorelich, one of his lawyers, told US media on Thursday, “He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.”

The two chambers of Congress are conducting two separate probes into Moscow’s meddling in polls and Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russians.

FBI is running another one, now headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, and the defence department has yet another, which is looking at Flynn receiving payments from foreign governments without prior sanction.

Kushner’s first substantive meeting with Russians is understood to have taken place last December when he received Moscow’s envoy to the United States Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower, which housed the president’s transition team. They were joined by Flynn, who had been named by then the next national security adviser.

At the next meeting, which was sought by Kislyak, Kushner didn’t go himself and sent a deputy to represent him. But at the ambassador’s request Kushner did meet Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a state-owned Russian bank that had ties to the Kremlin and that had been sanctioned by the Obama administration for the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Kushner and Kislyak were also present at a campaign event held by Trump at a hotel not very far from the White House last April, at which the candidate had promised to seek better ties with Russia. But it wasn’t clear if they has actually met.

Meetings and interactions with Kislyak have brought trouble to a number of people in Trump’s closest circle of aides . Flynn lost his job for lying about his phone calls to the ambassador, and attorney general Jeff Sessions has had to recuse himself from the Russia probe because he failed to report and acknowledge his meetings with the ambassador during his confirmation hearings.

First Published: May 26, 2017 09:57 IST