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Monday, March 25, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

“I did not collude,” says Jared Kushner, President Trump’s embattled son-in-law. Facing questions about a June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian government attorney, Kushner has released an 11-page statement notable for its slippery claims and veiled admissions.

Kushner has voluntarily agreed to testify to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees this week, as part of their investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

Kushner’s unsworn statement is what was known in the Watergate era as “a modified limited hangout,” the Nixonian term for a belated admission that seeks to distract attention from the most serious evidence of wrongdoing.

Kushner will not testify under oath, which protects him from possible legal repercussions if he dissembles. Before the disclosure of the June 9 meeting, his father-in-law and a White House spokesman repeatedly asserted—falsely—that the Trump campaign had no contacts with Russian officials, and Kushner said nothing.

In other words, by his own admission, he allowed his father and White House colleagues to make liars of themselves while leaving himself open to being compromised by the Russian intelligence service, which has almost certainly known the truth all along. (Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian government attorney who met with Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and campaign manager Paul Manafort, represented an office of the Russian intelligence service in legal proceedings, according to legal filings unearthed by the Associated Press.)

Now that Trump Jr.’s emails confirm the meeting took place and that Kushner attended, Kushner’s legal problems are multiplying. His statement seems mostly designed to mitigate these problems as opposed to telling the truth.

Security clearance: Kushner’s failure to report the meeting on forms required to obtain a security clearance is sufficient cause for revoking the clearance. Any other government official who failed to report contacts with a foreign government would have lost his security clearance, notes Ned Price, a former CIA officer. Says Price, “If he weren’t the president’s son-in-law, he’d have been frogmarched out of the White House long ago. Why does he still have access to America’s biggest secrets?”

Criminal liability: Some say the actions of Kushner, Trump Jr. and Manafort amount to treason, although legal experts differ. Michel Paradis, a law professor at Georgetown, makes the case that Kushner et al. may have violated the Espionage Act by accepting a plastic folder of incriminating material on Hillary Clinton that the Russians brought to the meeting. “If the confab at Trump Tower feels to you like treason,” Paradis writes, “that is probably because it may actually be espionage.”

Kushner’s new account doesn’t mention the folder and stresses that he left the meeting early, leaving his brother-in-law and Manafort to defend themselves from the espionage charge.

The back channel: Kushner’s statement, prefaced with the claim “I have nothing to hide,” contains a significant admission: he hoped to help the Russians keep intelligence from the U.S. government.

In May, the Washington Post reported on conversations between Kushner and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about establishing a secret communications channel. Kushner now claims the proposed channel was for the purpose of hearing information from Russian ”generals” about the situation in Syria.

“I did not suggest a ‘secret back channel,'” he writes. “I did not suggest an ongoing secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office.”

Whether or not Kushner envisioned “an ongoing secret form of communication,” he admits proposing a temporary secret form of communication at Russian requests to protect Russian secrets from U.S. intelligence agencies. And if investigators discover there was more than one occasion, well, his unsworn statement can’t be used against him.

Campaign collusion: In protesting his innocence, Kushner admits that others were having “a dialogue” with the Russians.

“The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day,” he writes.

Again, Kushner has separated himself from others in the administration. In pleading ignorance about the campaign’s “dialogue” with the Russians, he confirms that others were engaged in communication all along. Again, the most likely suspects, besides himself, are the people who responded positively to the Russians’ offer, namely Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort.

Kushner’s denial is under investigation. According to McClatchy News, congressional investigators and the special prosecutor are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation—overseen by Kushner—helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016. The investigators are “focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states—areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.”

If Kushner’s firm was in dialogue with the Russians, his self-serving statement cannot be used against him.

Kushner says he has nothing to hide while “mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation”—the very definition of the modified limited hangout.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.

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7 responses to “Jared Kushner Is Giving Himself Ample Room To Lie To Congress”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    It is a sad state of affairs when Congress succumbs to pressure from a corrupt White House and agrees to allow people that colluded with agents of a long time adversary of the USA to testify in private and not under oath. Under GOP cowardice and greed, the concept of three branches of government has evolved into two extensions of a Mafia-like administration led by an immature, narcissistic, Godfather. Sorry Marlon, but you don’t have a chance against the real McCoy.

    • kep says:

      You people are beyond stupid.

      • And you are a toady for Putin, komrade. Don’t kid yourself in thinking that trolling will distract from the eventuality of severe penalties for Trump and his associates. And remind Putin of this the next time you meet with him and the other cretins in his employ.

      • Bill P says:

        You are right twit we are beyond stupid that would be that we are very smart. You on the other hand have shown yourself to be a babbling twit.

  2. It seems very likely, given the events of the past years, that the Trump’s and Jared, etc, wake up each morning with the intent to lie about something while busily engaging with accumulating wealth. This is level they’ve sunk to, and nothing it appears will deter them from continuing this trend for the rest of their lives in this realm of existence. And Congress is complicit by dawdling, pussyfooting, and pretending all is well.

  3. FireBaron says:

    Frankly, I like the way he tried to throw his brother-in-law under the bus. Very Trumpian of him.

  4. Richard Prescott says:

    Hmm, very mob like. A mob lawyer told him to use this tactic because it works. Just ask his attorney (the mob lawyer), who lost, what, 5 of 5 or 6 of 6 cases, with one even getting a worse sentencing than what the prosecution was asking for.
    Yeah.
    The only reason this works is because the GOP is corrupt to its souls now. I believe if we look closely at Roman history it was this kind of behavior that led up to “Et tu, Brute?”!
    And the killing stab will be the one from Jeff “Brute” Sessions. (no, don’t know, just having a bit of fun here)
    Actually, it could be from Paul “the smirk” Ryan. McConnell is too old and too weak to actually lift the knife.

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