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Trump Son-In-Law Jared Kushner Failed To Disclose Contact With Russians

Another member of the Trump Administration failed to disclose contact with Russian officials during the campaign, and this time it’s someone about as close to Trump’s inner circle as you can get:

When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.

The omissions, which Mr. Kushner’s lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank.

Mr. Kushner’s omissions were described by people with direct knowledge of them who asked for anonymity because the questionnaire is not a public document.

While officials can lose access to intelligence, or worse, for failing to disclose foreign contacts, the forms are often amended to address lapses. Jamie Gorelick, Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, said that the questionnaire was submitted prematurely on Jan. 18, and that the next day, Mr. Kushner’s office told the F.B.I. that he would provide supplemental information.

Mr. Kushner’s aides said he was compiling that material and would share it when the F.B.I. interviewed him. For now, they said, he has an interim security clearance.

In a statement, Ms. Gorelick said that after learning of the error, Mr. Kushner told the F.B.I.: “During the presidential campaign and transition period, I served as a point-of-contact for foreign officials trying to reach the president-elect. I had numerous contacts with foreign officials in this capacity. … I would be happy to provide additional information about these contacts.” No names were disclosed in that correspondence.

Applicants for major national security positions must submit a lengthy F.B.I. questionnaire as part of a background check. They are asked to list the dates and details of all contacts with representatives of foreign governments.

This is not just bureaucratic paperwork. The form warns that “withholding, misrepresenting, or falsifying information” could result in loss of access to classified information, denial of eligibility for a sensitive job and even prosecution; knowingly falsifying or concealing material facts is a federal felony that may result in fines or up to five years imprisonment.

Clearance holders are often allowed to amend disclosure forms and avoid punishment if omissions are deemed oversights rather than deliberate falsifications, and prosecutions are rare.

Mr. Kushner is the second top White House official to have problems concerning his dealings with foreign officials. Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, had his security clearance suspended and was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the content of phone calls with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

Of course, given the fact that he is Trump’s son-in-law, the father of three of his grandchildren, and the husband of his eldest daughter, Kushner is not going to receive the same treatment that Flynn did for his omissions about the truth of his contact with Russian officials. In fact, Kushner’s portfolio and influence in the White House only seems to be expanding. Since the election, Trump has indicated that Kushner is his point person on a wide ranging numbers of issue including, for some strange reason, crafting a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians that has eluded every American President since at least Richard Nixon. Additionally, Ivanka Trump has recently made the transition from being an informal adviser to her father to become a full government employee as a Presidential adviser. Obviously, Trump is not going to fire his daughter or son-in-law, especially since they are now both among his top advisers.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    Gee, wot a surprise!

    (snigger)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Kushner may be as dirty as the Don himself. This whole thing reeks of money-laundering. Manafort is pretty clearly a Russian money-launderer. Trump’s casino was fined 10 million dollars for insistently refusing to comply with money-laundering laws. And now Kushner joins the amazingly long list of Trump-connected people who’ve spent time with Russian oligarchs/mobsters/spies and somehow forgotten about it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  3. Mikey says:

    They’ll accept his lame excuse about it being inadvertent, which, as someone who has filled out that particular form multiple times (you fill it out not only for the initial clearance but for each subsequent re-investigation, i. e. every five years) I can tell you is laughable bullshit. The form is very clear, there’s no room for interpretation, you know exactly what it wants you to put down.

    He should be denied the clearance, but of course he won’t.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  4. Father like son his can be cell mate with his father in prison or a group rate with all of Trump band of clown and his circus at lease their will be out of washington d.c. how can so many uneducation red neck hillbilly be on the hill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Gustopher says:

    In the alternate world where Hillary Clinton won, and Chelsea and Mr. Chelsea were the top advisors, and there were countless contacts to Russia, and Mr. Chelsea was given a massive portfolio and we learned he had “forgotten” to note all his contacts with the Russians… the Republicans would be screaming at the top of their lungs, and searching for reasons for impeachment, and rightly so.

    It’s amazing how far IOKIYAR goes.

    And this lays rest to some Republicans claims that Trump isn’t really a Republican — he’s totally covered by IOKIYAR.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  6. Moosebreath says:

    And amazingly, the contacts they forget to mention are always those with Russians. It’s such a coincidence!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Gustopher:

    And this lays rest to some Republicans claims that Trump isn’t really a Republican — he’s totally covered by IOKIYAR.

    I’d revise the acronym to IOKIYAC (conservative).
    Remember when Justice Thomas ‘inadvertently did not disclose on legally required forms his wife’s employment at the Heritage Foundation, for years?

    From the New York Times, January 24, 2011.
    WASHINGTON — Under pressure from liberal critics, Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court acknowledged in filings released on Monday that he erred by not disclosing his wife’s past employment as required by federal law?

    Justice Thomas said that in his annual financial disclosure statements over the last six years, the employment of his wife, Virginia Thomas, was “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

    To rectify that situation, Justice Thomas filed seven pages of amended disclosures listing Mrs. Thomas’s employment in that time with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy group, and Hillsdale College in Michigan, for which she ran a constitutional law center in Washington.

    The justice came under criticism last week from Common Cause, a liberal advocacy group, for failing to disclose Mrs. Thomas’s employment as required under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. While justices are not required to say how much a spouse earns, Common Cause said its review of Internal Revenue Service filings showed that the Heritage Foundation paid Mrs. Thomas $686,589 from 2003 to 2007.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  8. Senyordave says:

    Maybe the Senate will have real hearings on this. Obviously the House is in the bag for Trump. If it turns out Trump and his people are as dirty as they appear, Nunes and the other Republicans helping to block any investigations will be considered the traitors that they are. IMO just blocking the investigation means they are de facto traitors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Senyordave:

    Sally Yates is back on House Intel’s witness list. She will testify that she informed the Trump people that Flynn was a security risk compromised by the Russians. And that she did it long before Trump supposedly ‘discovered’ that Flynn had lied about his Russian and Turkish employers.

    This is important since it goes directly to the question of Trump’s own relationship with Russia and the inept Trump cover-up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. DrDaveT says:

    Awesome. They’re actually using the Steve Martin defense.

    Can “Excuuuuuuuuuse me!” be far behind?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Pch101 says:

    It can be said without a hint of hyperbole that the Trump real estate and casino businesses may include a money laundering component.

    One may also wonder if some of these losing enterprises such as the steak and vodka businesses may have been set up in part to facilitate the money laundering effort. It wouldn’t have mattered if they generated cash if their primary purpose was to clean it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. gVOR08 says:

    Who’s left that hasn’t had undisclosed meetings with Russians? Barron?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: My money’s on Tiffany. She’s not really part of the group anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Pch101:

    One may also wonder if some of these losing enterprises such as the steak and vodka businesses may have been set up in part to facilitate the money laundering effort

    Of course, Donald is a crook and a liar, so there is every reason to suspect criminal enterprise wherever he had business dealings. OTOH, I always thought an important component of a money laundering front was the handling of large amounts of cash. Casino’s work, but businesses where you primarily take credit cards or commercial checks seem problematic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: I’d suspect the casinos and the real estate deals before the steaks and vodka, which are going to only be able to handle chump change by comparison. Very easy to sling around several hundreds of thousands or millions in casino cash flow–a little harder to do it with steaks. I imagine at least one skeptical bureaucrat would be insisting on seeing a boxcar of beef at some point.

    The other area that supposedly gets used a lot for money laundering is movie-making because you can hide a lot in what passes for movie accounting. (This reminds me of the old jib about what EBITDA really stands for: “Earnings Before I Tricked the Dumb Auditor”)

    I guess you can always fall back on the traditional areas of hookers and blow, but Trump wants to have a “nice” reputation….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. My boyfriend and I at one point got impacted by an embezzlement fiasco (misused NSF/DOE funds, the university decided to smooth everything over but insisted double-work from the university’s grad students in order to cut costs, in spite of the fact that the grad students had nothing do to with the case). We kept trying to puzzle out what the money had gone for, since it seemed to be too much for hookers but too little for other potential money drains such as drugs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Pch101 says:

    Have Russian mobsters (or whomever) dump money into shell companies that in turn “invest” in or “loan” the money to Trump-related entities.

    Subsequently distribute some of the cash flow back to the “lenders” or “investors.”

    Voila, clean money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0