Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told congressional interns that Trump’s election team couldn't have colluded with the Russians because they were too disorganized, Foreign Policy reported Monday.
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"They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices," Kushner told congressional interns at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington on Monday afternoon in off-the-record remarks. The Foreign Policy report is based on written notes taken down by a source present at the talk.
In the meeting, Kushner also downplayed his failure to report contacts with foreign officials and more than a hundred instances of foreign travel on his security clearance forms. He also highlighted the release of Egyptian-American aid worker Aya Hijazi, released after Trump made "a great deal" with Egyptian President Abdel Fattal al-Sissi, who had "basically destroyed the Muslim Brotherhood."
Kushner's talk comes two weeks after he appeared before Congress to testify about the ongoing Russia probe. Kushner was one of the Trump campaign officials who participated in a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who, according to emails uncovered by the New York Times, offered to give the Trump campaign "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate in the 2016 election. Kushner did not mention the meeting when filing paperwork for obtaining his security clearance. He also failed to mention meetings with Russian officials, including Russia's former ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
Kushner says the meeting with a Russian-American lawyer was such a "waste of time" that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering. Emails released last month showed Donald Trump Jr. accepted the meeting at Trump Tower with the idea that he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But Kushner claimed he hadn't seen those emails until recently shown them by his lawyers.
Kushner said in his statement that Trump Jr. invited him to the meeting. He said he arrived late and heard the lawyer discussing the issue of adoptions, adding that he texted his assistant to call him out of the meeting. Kusher also said he never colluded with any foreign government during the presidential campaign, denying that Russians finance any of his business in the private sector.
Kushner recently spearheading efforts aimed at calming down tensions in the Middle East, which broke out after Israeli-Arab citizens shot two Israeli policemen to death on Temple Mount on July 14th. Kushner spoke on the phone last week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to find a solution to the Temple Mount crisis and is overseeing the administration's efforts on the issue.