FBI investigating Kushner over Russia back channel communications request

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The FBI’s investigation into collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election is getting closer to the president. On Thursday, May 26, 2017, the media reported that White House advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is a focus of the FBI‘s investigation. The probe is examining his actions during the campaign, the transition, his relationship with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russia.

Kushner, however, was not aware the FBI was looking into his actions and neither have they approached him. Kushner’s attorney Jamie Gorelick issued a statement saying, “Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.” Kushner, however, is not a “target” of the investigations; neither is the FBI accusing him of any wrongdoing.  A source revealed to ABC News, “We don’t know anything. He hasn’t been approached.” Kushner is the current White House staffer the Washington Post previously referred to that was part of the FBI’s investigation.

The Democratic National Committee responded by requesting that “Kushner’s security clearance be suspended” until the end of the probe. The DNC released a statement which read, “The FBI’s Russia investigation reached Trump’s backyard, and now it’s in his house. Kushner’s security clearance should be suspended until the FBI’s findings are complete.”

The Washington Post reported on Friday, May 27, that the FBI is looking into Kushner because he was supposedly trying to negotiate backchannel communications with Russia during the presidential transition. In December, Kushner met Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at Trump Tower in New York along with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Supposedly, the FBI is basing their intelligence on “intercepted communications” between Kislyak and Russian officials. It is debatable whether the intelligence is true or fake, as Russia has been known to manufacture information to thwart spying. The Washington Post acknowledges the meeting might have never occurred.

What is known was that Kushner did meet with the Russia Ambassador in December. Afterward, he also met with Sergei Gorkov of Russian bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB. The White House downplayed the importance and significance of both meetings, making them appear as routine practices. Kushner was responsible for foreign policy issues within the transition team and is rumored to have advocated that Flynn is appointed as National Security Advisor.

Currently, Kushner is a senior advisor to the President and the head the new White House Office of American Innovation. Unofficially, he “represents the administration” with “foreign leaders” and is a gatekeeper to the President. Being married to Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka has made Kushner more than just an advisor, he is family and important to the President’s inner circle.

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