- The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One day after he issued a lengthy and detailed rebuttal to charges the Trump presidential campaign somehow colluded with Russia, White House aide and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a second day of private meetings with congressional investigations into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Mr. Kushner’s closed-door session on Tuesday occurred with the House Intelligence Committee. On Monday, he met with the Senate Intelligence Committee, in addition to issuing an 11-page statement written to debunk many of the most stinging accusations that have defined the Trump-Russia saga.

“Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” Mr. Kushner told reporters just outside the White House on Monday after his Senate testimony.

Mr. Kushner categorically rejected claims that he had tapped Russian financing for his real estate business activities, attempted to create a back-door communications channel with Moscow or failed to properly report contacts with key Russian officials when completing his U.S. government security clearance application.

With a hint of his father-in-law’s rhetoric, Mr. Kushner also suggested that the Russia collusion charges stemmed from political opponents trying to explain how they lost last year’s presidential election.

As for a controversial June 2016 meeting he attended between Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, then-Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign — Mr. Kushner called it “time not well-spent” and said he even texted an aide to call him and give him an excuse to leave.

On Tuesday Mr. Manafort met with bipartisan staff of the Senate intelligence committee behind closed doors and and “answered their questions fully,” his spokesman, Jason Maloni, said.

Anonymous sources familiar with the interview told The Associated Press that the discussion was confined to Mr. Manafort’s recollection of the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya.

Mr. Manafort also turned over his contemporaneous notes documenting the meeting and agreed to additional interviews with the Senate intelligence committee staff on other topics. Those meetings haven’t yet been scheduled.

Mr. Kushner’s Monday 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 presidential campaign in Mr. 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 obstruct the investigations.

The White House has consistently argued that the ongoing probes are a “witch hunt” aided by Obama-era leaks designed to smear Mr. Trump.

Early Tuesday, Mr. Trump tweeted support for his son-in-law and poked fun at the entire process.

Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!” the president tweeted.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced they issued a subpoena for Mr. Manafort to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a public hearing on Wednesday. They said they had been unable to reach agreement with Mr. Manafort on the terms of a private and voluntary interview with staff.

In addition, the committee was withdrawing a separate subpoena issued for the co-founder of a research firm behind a dossier of allegations about Mr. Trump and his ties to Russia. Instead, Glenn Simpson has agreed to a private interview, according to a person familiar with the conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity.

* The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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