Senators press Kushner for more in Russia investigation
Washington – The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee are saying that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law hasn’t been fully forthcoming with the panel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Jared Kushner’s lawyer Thursday saying the collection of documents he has already provided the committee is “incomplete.” The committee gave Kushner a Nov. 27 deadline to provide additional documents, including emails related to WikiLeaks and Kushner’s security clearance form that originally omitted certain contacts with Russian officials.
Grassley and Feinstein are also asking Kushner for correspondence with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is a subject of an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The letter comes as the committee’s investigation has stalled amid partisan disputes. The new request is a sign that the panel is still moving forward with its probe into the Russian interference and whether Trump’s campaign was involved.
The Judiciary Committee also interviewed Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin this week as part of the investigation; Akhmetshin attended a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer last summer that has captured the interest of investigators.
In the letter to Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s lawyer, Grassley and Feinstein wrote they “appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete.”
The senators noted they had asked Kushner to provide documents “to, from, or copied to you relating to” certain individuals of interest to investigators, but Kushner’s response said no emails had been found in which those individuals “appear in the to, from, or ???? to lines” of emails.
“If, as you suggest, Mr. Kushner was unaware of, for example, any attempts at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, then presumably there would be few communications concerning many of the persons identified in our second request, and the corresponding burden of searching would be small,” the senators wrote.
The senators also noted they have received documents from other campaign officials that were copied to or forwarded to Kushner, but which he did not produce. Those include “September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks.” Trump’s eldest son, Trump Jr., corresponded with WikiLeaks that month and, according to The Atlantic, sent an email to several Trump campaign advisers to tell them about it.
Grassley and Feinstein also write that other parties have produced documents concerning a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” that Kushner forwarded but has not given to the committee.
The committee asked for additional documents related to Flynn, detailing a long list of search terms, and rebuffed Kushner’s lawyer’s arguments that his security clearance is confidential and unavailable because it has been submitted to the FBI for review.
The Senate and House intelligence committees are also probing the Russian meddling and both committees spoke to Kushner in July. The Judiciary panel has also sought an interview with Kushner, but his lawyers offered to make the transcripts available from the other interviews instead, according to the letter. The senators say those panels haven’t provided them with those transcripts, and ask Lowell to secure that access.
Then “we will consider whether the transcript satisfies the needs of our investigation,” Grassley and Feinstein write.
The letters come a day after Feinstein sent letters of her own, requesting more information on communications with WikiLeaks and on Kushner’s role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Feinstein has sent out several letters in the investigation after she and Grassley could not come to agreement on subpoenas and moving forward.