After being accused in a letter earlier this week sent by the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee of failing to turn over emails from September 2016 pertaining to a range of topics including Wikileaks, it appears Kushner is being punished for his obstinance with a series of embarrassing leaks presumably from the same committee that publicly chastised him only days before (bonus points for subtlety). The new allegations are likely to provoke more spurious speculation that Kushner and other members of the Trump camp (Sessions etc.) perjured themselves during Congressional testimony.
According to the leaks, Kushner neglected to disclose that Aleksander Torshin, a powerful Russian central banker and former senator with ties to both President Vladimir Putin and Russian organized crime, had reached out to the campaign with a “dinner invite” and an offer to connect Trump with Putin. Kushner, who was on the email chain, reportedly instructed junior campaign aides to rebuff the meeting.
Also, when asked if he was aware of any contact between Wikileaks and the campaign, Kushner reportedly said he didn’t recall any contact, even though Donald Trump Jr. informed Kushner, and several other senior campaign staff, that Wikileaks had made contact. Kushner reportedly even forwarded Trump Jr.’s Wikileaks email to another campaign staffer, Hope Hicks.
Here’s NBC, which was first to report on the Torshin emails:
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, failed to disclose what lawmakers called a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” involving a banker who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
An email chain described Aleksander Torshin, a former senator and deputy head of Russia’s central bank who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as wanting Trump to attend an event on the sidelines of a National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 2016, the sources said. The email also suggests Torshin was seeking to meet with a high-level Trump campaign official during the convention, and that he may have had a message for Trump from Putin, the sources said.
Kushner rebuffed the request after receiving a lengthy email exchange about it between a West Virginia man and Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn, the sources said.
Kushner responded to the email by telling Dearborn and the handful of other Trump campaign officials on the email that they should not accept requests from people who pretend to have contacts with foreign officials to aggrandize themselves, according Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell. Dearborn currently serves as a deputy chief of staff in the White House.
“Pass on this,” Kushner responded, according to a letter Lowell sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday evening. “A lot of people come claiming to carry messages. Very few we are able to verify. For now I think we decline such meetings.”
And here’s CNN on Wikileaks…
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told congressional Russia investigators that he did not communicate with WikiLeaks and did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign who had, a source with knowledge of his testimony told CNN.
But Kushner did receive and forward an email from Donald Trump Jr. about contact Trump Jr. had with WikiLeaks, according to a new report this week and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, was asked in July during his closed-door congressional testimony if he had any contacts with WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange and he responded that he had not, according to the source. He also told Congress he did not know of anyone on the campaign who had contacted WikiLeaks.
A separate source familiar with Kushner’s interview with congressional investigators said he accurately answered questions about his contact and didn’t recall anyone else in the campaign who had contact.
Of course, Kushner isn’t the only person in Trump’s orbit to deny the Wikileaks’ contacts. When asked in October 2016 if the Trump campaign was “in cahoots” with Wikileaks, Mike Pence claimed “nothing could be further from the truth. But that’s beside the point. As Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell is pushing back against the Judiciary committee, claiming there were no “missing documents,” as the committee has alleged, while criticizing the panel’s leaders for going to the media on Thursday with their accusations.
“I would have assumed that, if there were any questions about our productions or exchanges, that would have been communicated to me directly before you made this a media event,” Lowell wrote.
Lowell (who has, we imagine, racked up his fair share of billable hours this week) defended Kushner’s responses by pointing out that Kushner said he did not recall contact with Russian entities and Wikileaks, not that they didn’t happen. Kushner’s busy schedule ( he is, after all, in charge of a range of White House initiatives from streamlining the federal government to bringing peace to the Middle East) now, and during the campaign, when he was a senior political adviser, has made it impossible for him to remember many of these details, his lawyers have argued.
And while many on the left have been quick to cry perjury, proving that somebody deliberately lied when testifying about their recollections is notoriously tricky.
Lowell also pointed out in his rebuttal to the allegations that his client voluntarily testified before the House and Senate committees that are investigating Russian interference (or other malfeasance) related to the 2016 election.
Furthermore, Kushner endured grueling six-hour sessions, and answered every question he was asked.
“Mr. Kushner was asked if he had contacts with Wikileaks, Guccifer or DC Leaks and said no. He also said he did not know of such contacts by the campaign. From all I have now seen, his statement was accurate then as it is now. In over 6 hours of voluntary testimony, Mr Kushner answered all questions put to him and demonstrated that there had been no collusion between the campaign and Russia.”
Kushner famously neglected to include meetings with Russian officials, including former ambassador Kislyak, during his security-clearance application, something his office confirmed was the result of a clerical error.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats have already capitalized on these embarrassing leaks to insist that Kushner return for more testimony – possibly in a public forum, which hints at the real reason these documents were leaked.
Since the investigations began, Congress have been trying, unsuccessfully, to push Kushner to testify in a public hearing – an event that would inevitably create a media circus and allow Democrats on the committee a tantalizing opportunity for grandstanding. We imagine those calls will only grow louder as the coming holiday-shortened week begins.