Allegations of collusions and connections between members of the Trump team during and after the 2016 presidential campaign had been tossed around for months.
Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Trump, including on the Middle East, made a public statement in front of the White House on Monday, after his meeting with Senate intelligence committee investigators. Kusnher had four different meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition, including a Russian ambassador, lawyer and banker.
After a two hour private meeting on Capitol Hill, Kushner told reporters at the White House, “I did not collude with Russians, nor do I know of anyone in the campaign who did… Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.”
Initially, the Trump administration denied any such contacts occurred with any members of the administration or campaign, but meetings were soon discovered between members of the Trump team and Russian officials.
Kushner first met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. In June 2016, Kushner, along with Donald Trump Jr. and Paul J Manafort, the former campaign chairman, met with a Russian lawyer who stated he had incriminating evidence against Trump’s presidential contender, Hillary Clinton.
Kushner said he was unaware of this information as he didn’t read the email chain forwarded to him by Trump Jr., titled, “Re: Russia- Clinton- private and confidential.” He also stated he arrived late and left early.
In December 2016, Kushner and Michael T, Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, met with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, to improve US relations with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Kushner stated it was a common duty in his role as an advisor to the president to set up lines of communication with foreign governments, according to the New York Times.
A few days after the meeting with the ambassador, Kushner met with Sergey N Gorkov, the head a bank called Vnesheconombank, which is currently under US sanctions because it has ties to Russian intelligence. Kushner met with Gorkov upon Kislyak’s suggestion that Gorkov is a man close to Putin and could open up a line of communication between Trump and Putin.
Such meetings has sparked concern over the Trump administration since the CIA confirmed Russian hackers hacked the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election.