Kushner returning to Capitol for 2nd day of interviews, this time with House

- President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner will return to Capitol Hill Tuesday for a second day of private meetings with congressional investigators, this time for a closed-door conversation with lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.

Kushner on Monday answered questions from staff on the Senate's intelligence panel, acknowledging four meetings with Russians during and after Trump's victorious White House bid and insisting he had "nothing to hide." He emerged smiling to publicly declare, "All of my actions were proper."

A quiet insider who generally avoids the spotlight, Kushner is the first top Trump lieutenant to be quizzed by the congressional investigators probing Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Hours before the Senate meeting, Kushner released an 11-page statement that was billed as his remarks to both the Senate and House committees. In it, he acknowledged his Russian contacts during the campaign and then the following weeks, in which he served as a liaison between the transition and foreign governments. He described each contact as either insignificant or routine and he said the meetings, along with several others, were omitted from his security clearance form because of an aide's error. Kushner cast himself as a political novice learning in real time to juggle "thousands of meetings and interactions" in a fast-paced campaign.

"Let me be very clear," Kushner said afterward in a rare public statement at the White House. "I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so."

Kushner's statement was the first detailed defense from a campaign insider responding to the controversy that has all but consumed the first six months of Trump's presidency. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia sought to tip the 2016 campaign in Trump's favor. Congressional committees, as well as a Justice Department special counsel, are investigating whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia in that effort and whether the president has sought to hamper the investigations.

Kushner said Monday he "will continue to cooperate as I have nothing to hide."

Trump watched on TV as Kushner made his appearance outside the West Wing and "thought Jared did a great job," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She said his House testimony on Tuesday would show "what a hoax this entire thing is."

Trump also took aim at the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, calling him "sleazy" in a tweet and saying he "spends all of his time on television." Schiff said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that he has a "great many questions" for Kushner.

Schiff responded Monday by tweeting that Trump watches TV too often and his "comments and actions are beneath the dignity of the office."

In the statement for the two committees, Kushner provided for the first time his recollection of a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Emails released this month show that the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., accepted the meeting with the idea that he would receive information as part of a Russian government effort to help Trump's campaign. But Kushner said he hadn't seen those emails until recently shown them by his lawyers.

He called the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya such a "waste of time" that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering. He says he arrived late and when he heard the lawyer discussing the issue of international adoptions, he texted his assistant to call him out.

"No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign; there was no follow-up to the meeting that I am aware of; I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted," he said.

Kushner also confirmed earlier media reports that he had suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities to set up secure communications between Trump adviser Michael Flynn, who would become Trump's national security adviser, and Russian officials. But he disputed that it was an effort to establish a "secret back channel."

His statement describes a December meeting with Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which Kushner and Kislyak discussed establishing a secure line for the Trump transition team and Moscow to communicate about policy in Syria.

Kushner said that when Kislyak asked if there was a secure way for him to provide information from his "generals," Kushner suggested using facilities at the Russian Embassy.

"The ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred," the statement said.

Kushner said he never proposed an ongoing secret form of communication.

He also acknowledged meeting with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, at the request of Kislyak but said no specific policies were discussed.

As for his application for a security clearance, Kushner said his form was submitted prematurely due to a miscommunication with his assistant, who had believed the document was complete.

He said he mistakenly omitted all of his foreign contacts, not just his meetings with Russians, and has worked in the past six months with the FBI to correct the record.
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President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, disclosed in a statement to members of Congress four distinct interactions with Russians during the presidential campaign and transition period. The 11-page statement provides his first detailed account of meetings over the last year with the Russian ambassador to the United States, a Russian lawyer and a Russian banker.
 
   The encounters:
 
   APRIL 27, 2016, MAYFLOWER HOTEL, WASHINGTON
 
   Kushner described meeting Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a hotel reception before Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, was to deliver a major foreign policy speech on the campaign trail.
 
   He said Kislyak was one of four ambassadors he greeted with a handshake and pleasantries. He said he thanked the dignitaries for attending and told them that he hoped they would enjoy Trump's speech and the ambassadors, in turn, "expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election."
 
   He said each interaction lasted less than a minute and he never took up any of the ambassadors on their invitations to lunch at their embassies.
 
   ------
 
   JUNE 9, 2016, TRUMP TOWER, NEW YORK CITY
 
   Though Kushner maintains that he didn't even recall this meeting until recently reviewing his records, this gathering has caused significant headaches for the Trump White House since it was publicly reported on earlier this month.
 
   Kushner said he was invited by his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr., to a meeting at Trump Tower with a person who turned out to be Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. He said he arrived late, heard discussion about Moscow's ban on Americans adopting Russian children and concluded that the meeting was such a "waste of time" that he quickly looked for a way out.
 
   "I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote "Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting," Kushner said.
 
   Emails that Trump Jr. released show that the president's oldest son came to the meeting with the expectation that the lawyer would provide negative information about Hillary Clinton. Kushner said he hadn't read or recalled those emails until his lawyers recently showed them to him when reviewing documents to submit to the committees.
 
   ------
 
   DEC. 1, 2016, TRUMP TOWER, NEW YORK CITY
 
   Kushner said this meeting involved Kislyak and Michael Flynn, who would later become Trump's national security adviser, and lasted between 20 minutes and a half-hour.
 
   In his statement, Kushner denied media reports that said he discussed with Kislyak a secret back-channel for communications.
 
   Instead, Kushner said, Kislyak asked him if there was a secure line for him to convey to Trump administration officials information about Syria that he said was coming from his "generals." 
 
   Kushner said that given the importance of Syria and the "ongoing humanitarian crisis," he asked if there was an existing communications channel at the Russian Embassy that Kislyak felt comfortable using to relay information to Flynn.
 
   "The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration," Kushner said. "Nothing else occurred. I did not suggest a `secret back channel."'
 
   Flynn was forced to resign in February after White House officials said he had misled them about whether he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak in a phone call.
 
   ------
 
   DEC. 13, 2016, NEW YORK CITY
 
   Kushner said he attended a meeting in New York with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, after being asked to do so by Kislyak.
 
   He said Gorkov introduced himself and provided him with two gifts: a bag of dirt from a village in Belarus where Kushner's grandparents were from and a piece of art from the same location. He said Gorkov discussed his bank and the Russian economy and described himself as friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
   But Kushner insisted that the meeting had nothing to do with his work as a businessman. He said the men did not discuss sanctions against Russia or anything about "my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind."
 
   "I did not know or have any contact with Mr. Gorkov before that meeting, and I have had no reason to connect with him since," Kushner said.
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