Just When Kushner Has His ‘I Am Not a Crook’ Moment, This News Breaks
In the very early hours of the morning, top aide to reality show celebrity Donald Trump and nepotism beneficiary Jared Kushner released an 11-page statement in advance of his closed-door meeting with staffers for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and it’s a doozy:
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said on Monday that he had been unaware that a June 2016 meeting he attended at Trump Tower was set up in the hope that a Russian lawyer would provide the Trump campaign with damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
In prepared remarks to congressional investigators released by Mr. Kushner’s representatives [available here], Mr. Kushner said he arrived at the meeting late and had been so uninterested in the discussion that he emailed his assistant to ask for her help escaping.
Mr. Kushner, who is to give his statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, said he went to the meeting at the request of the president’s eldest son, Donald J. Trump Jr. Mr. Kushner said he did not read an email forwarded by the younger Mr. Trump saying that the Russian government was providing dirt about Mrs. Clinton as part of its effort to help the Trump campaign.
Seriously? This is not plausible – does anyone see Kushner answering to Junior?
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Kushner gave his first public explanation of his contacts with Russian government officials and other Kremlin-connected people over the past year. He acknowledged that after the November election, he sought a direct line of communication to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. He characterized that action as a routine part of his job in establishing foreign contacts for Mr. Trump’s transition team.
Riiiight – because it’s common practice for a president-elect’s son-in-law to go to the Russian embassy and request super-secret back-channel spy gear access.
One prominent counterintelligence veteran isn’t buying Kushner’s 11-page denial either:
The cybersecurity and counterterrorism expert told MSNBC’s Morning Joe he’s troubled by the amount of contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, and he said the initial failure to disclose those associations had made those campaign and transition officials vulnerable to blackmail.
“Look at the leverage that Russia has on us,” Watts said. “I mean, both in terms of this and if you go back to the G20, we’re now going to leave Russian account of versions of meetings and contacts, and they seem more reliable than our country. That puts us in a dangerous position. When you look through this, it’s either incompetence or they have a lot influence over this administration.”
MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt faulted Kushner for trying to explain away his contacts with Russians as essentially rookie mistakes.
“I’m just trying to wrap my head around this entire statement,” Hunt said. “I would say this is essentially the chaos and sloppiness defense. Essentially Jared Kushner is explaining away, point by point, all of the concerning things and offering his version of events that essentially make things that may seem to be problematic simply the result of someone overlooking something.”
Watts wondered if the Trump campaign had met with any other foreign government four times, as Kushner says he did with Russian officials.
“I’m not aware of any with this sort of contact and this sort of focus, (and) that’s troubling to me,” he said. “Also this administration has had no Russia policy, put together nothing tangible in terms of how we’re going to deal with Russian metaling, denies it, and we go a sanctions bill that just went through that the congress overrode our president on.”
And unfortunately for Kushner, the breaking bad news about his ever-growing number of ties to Russia continues to grow:
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, who acts as his senior White House adviser, secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being probed by members of Congress.
A Guardian investigation has established a series of overlapping ties and relationships involving alleged Russian money laundering, New York real estate deals and members of Trump’s inner circle. They include a 2015 sale of part of the old New York Times building in Manhattan involving Kushner and a billionaire real estate tycoon and diamond mogul, Lev Leviev. …
Leviev, a global tycoon known as the “king of diamonds”, was a business partner of the Russian-owned company Prevezon Holdings that was at the center of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit launched in New York. Under the leadership of US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March, prosecutors pursued Prevezon for allegedly attempting to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury.
The scam had been uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who died in 2009 in a Moscow jail in suspicious circumstances. US sanctions against Russia imposed after Magnitsky’s death were a central topic of conversation at the notorious Trump Tower meeting last June between Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s this!
The lawyer privately advising Donald Trump on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is head of a law firm that was involved in the sale of a prestigious piece of New York real estate to Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, in a deal that could fall under the spotlight of the same inquiry.
Marc Kasowitz, a member of the New York bar who has represented Trump in his business dealings for 15 years, was brought on board by the president last month to provide personal legal advice relating to the Russian inquiry now being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. The appointment has placed Kasowitz at the center of the legal maelstrom over the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and elements of Trump’s presidential campaign.
An investigation by the Guardian has found that Kasowitz’s law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, legally represented the owners of the former New York Times building in Times Square, Manhattan, in a 2015 deal in which part of the property was sold to Kushner for $296m.
That might help explain last week’s “White House Mouthpiece Musical Chairs.”