Kushner denies colluding with Russians before Senate questioning

Washington: US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Monday that neither he nor any member of the Trump campaign team colluded with Russian officials over the 2016 US presidential election.

In an 11-page statement released ahead of his closed-door interview with Senate intelligence committee staff, Kushner offered his first public account of what he said were his four meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition, offering previously undisclosed details of those meetings, CNN reported.

Kushner insisted in the letter that he discussed nothing improper during those meetings, which included two encounters with the Russian Ambassador in Washington, a meeting with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, and the June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and others that was set up by Kushner’s brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr.

“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner said in the statement.

“I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.”

Kushner also disputed a media report that claimed that he had two phone calls between April and November 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, explaining that he has no recollection of those calls.

The previously undisclosed detail was just one of several that Kushner revealed in the letter in an effort to clear himself of any suspicions stemming from the congressional and federal investigations into contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russia.

The June 2016 meeting set up by Trump Jr, which was only publicly revealed for the first time this month, became a target of scrutiny in the investigations after emails revealed that Trump Jr believed he would obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.

Trump had repeatedly decried the investigations as a “witch hunt”, but the meeting offered the most concrete evidence that Trump campaign officials were open to collaborating with the Russian government, the CNN report said.

The Senate panel, which is one of several congressional committees investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, had interviewed dozens of individuals as part of its Russia meddling probe.