Jared Kushner finally spoke — after talking to Congress behind closed doors.
President Trump’s rarely heard son-in-law and senior adviser defiantly defended himself Monday against accusations of Russian collusion as he finished his first of two secret congressional testimonies this week.
After privately testifying before the Senate Intelligence Community for two hours, Kushner proclaimed his innocence in a brief and rare public address outside the White House.
“Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” he said.
“I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses. And I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information … all of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign.”
Kushner found himself before the Senate because of his presence at a secret Trump Tower meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who promised incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. He was joined by Donald Trump Jr., the President’s eldest son, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Before his testimony on Monday, Kushner issued a statement dismissing the Trump Tower gathering as a “waste of time.”
He claimed he emailed an assistant after about 10 minutes and asked: “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.”
But in his 11-page statement, Kushner also blamed his assistants for a “miscommunication” that, he claimed, led to his SF-86 nationals security forms being incomplete.
Kushner has come under fire in the past few months as media reports have revealed several meetings he had with Russian officials that were not disclosed on his SF-86 forms. This follows a pattern of several other Trump associates withholding information about Kremlin conversations that happened during the campaign.
Lying on an SF-86 form — which grants security clearance to top federal workers — is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Kushner’s statement said he had four contacts with Russians during the campaign, and that none was “improper.”
The first came in April 2016, during an event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., where he met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
They shook hands and “exchanged brief pleasantries,” Kushner wrote.
Kushner said he “could not recall” two previously reported calls with Kislyak between April and November of 2016, and wrote that he was “highly skeptical” the calls took place.
“In fact, on November 9, the day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian Ambassador,” he wrote.
Kushner also received an email from the screenname “Guccifer400” in late October threatening to reveal Trump’s undisclosed tax returns and demanding 52 bitcoins. Kushner alerted a Secret Service agent about the email, who suggested Kushner “ignore it and not reply,” he said.
A Trump Tower meeting with Kislyak, Kushner and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — President Trump’s first national security adviser — was held on Dec. 1.
Kushner’s assistant met with Kislyak on Dec. 12, and at Kislyak’s insistence, Kushner met with Sergei Gorkov, a Russian banker and attorney, one day later. The conversation focused on Russia-U.S. relations, and did not involve sanctions or specific policies, Kushner wrote.
“At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind,” he said.
Kushner is one of several Trump associates who has lawyered up as the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia ties heats up.
He is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday — which, like his Senate testimony, will be private.
Trump Jr. and Manafort both struck deals to testify before the Senate in private and not under oath. No dates have been set for their appearances.
One member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), has said he was disappointed by the deals and he believes all of the testimonies should be public and under oath.