Mueller is turning up the heat on Jared Kushner
- President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has reportedly landed in Mueller's crosshairs.
- Mueller's team has begun to question witnesses about some of Kushner's conversations and meetings with foreign leaders during the transition.
- Investigators are also homing in on Kushner's role in pushing Trump to fire former FBI Director James Comey in May.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is turning up the heat on President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as he examines potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey in May.
Mueller's team has reportedly questioned witnesses about some of Kushner's conversations and meetings with foreign leaders during the transition, when he famously hosted former Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak at Trump Tower and asked whether it would be possible to set up a backchannel line of communication to Moscow.
Kislyak then orchestrated a meeting between Kushner and the CEO of Russia's Vnesheconombank, Sergei Gorkov, who was appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2016 as part of a restructuring of the bank's management team, Bloomberg reported last year.
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The Kremlin and the White House have provided conflicting explanations for why Kushner met with Gorkov. Reuters reported earlier this year that the FBI is examining whether Gorkov suggested to Kushner that Russian banks could finance Trump associates' business ventures if US sanctions were lifted or relaxed.
Federal investigators are also examining Kushner's role in blocking a UN resolution that would have condemned Israel for building settlements in disputed territories, according to The Wall Street Journal, and whether Kushner advised Trump to fire Comey last spring. Kushner reportedly gave Mueller's team documents related to Comey's firing earlier this month.
Four people told The Journal that Kushner "pushed" Trump to fire the former FBI director in conversations with the president and his top advisers. His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, downplayed Kushner's involvement.
“When the president made the decision to fire FBI Director Comey, Mr. Kushner supported it," Lowell said in a statement.
Kushner has come under heightened scrutiny since last week, when the Senate Judiciary Committee said he forwarded emails about a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" to Trump campaign officials and failed to produce those emails to lawmakers investigating Russia's election interference.
Additional emails that he failed to turn over, according to the committee, involved communication with the anti-secrecy agency WikiLeaks and with a Belarusian-American businessman named Sergei Millian. Millian most recently headed a group called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.
The Journal reported in September that members of Trump's legal team wanted Kushner to resign from his position as a senior adviser because of his controversial meetings with Russian nationals during the election and his initial failure to disclose them on his security clearance form.
Kushner has had to revise the form several times, at one point adding more than 100 foreign contacts that he initially failed to disclose. He still does not have a permanent security clearance, which experts say is rare for a senior official who has been in the White House for nearly a year.
They began pushing for his ouster when they became aware of Kushner's attendance at a meeting organized by his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower last June with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. Kushner was the only one at the meeting who currently holds a White House job.
One of Trump's main lawyers in the probe, John Dowd, told The Journal that he "didn't agree" with some of his colleagues' view that Kushner should resign.
"I thought it was absurd,” Dowd said. “I made my views known.”
In an 11-page statement provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee in late July detailing his Russian contacts during the campaign and transition period, Kushner said he "did not recall" the meeting with Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin until he began "reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information."
- Kushner received emails from Sergei Millian — an alleged dossier source who was in touch with George Papadopoulos
- Senate Judiciary Committee: Kushner forwarded emails about a 'Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite'
- Former FBI director represented Russian firm at center of major money-laundering probe