The New York Times reports this morning that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to question Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner about meetings he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, including one that was previously undisclosed — and included a known Russian spy.
Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.
Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which the United States placed on its sanctions list after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.
A White House spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, confirmed those meetings, saying in an interview that nothing of consequence was discussed and that they went nowhere. Mr. Gorkov, who previously served as deputy chairman of the board at Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, could not be reached for comment.
As counterintelligence expert and war historian John Schindler reminds us, Sergey Gorkov is no ordinary banker. He’s a spy, and therefore a natural target of spying, so it is quite possible — even probable — that America’s spying agencies intercepted communications related to whatever Kushner discussed with Gorkov. At the very least, this was one very sketchy meeting.
Given Rep. Adam Schiff’s indication last week that direct evidence of collusion exists, the implications are staggering. If the NSA has, say, recorded Gorkov or Kislyak telling the Kremlin that Kushner committed treason, he is in serious trouble. Additionally, if the rumors that Michael Flynn has made a deal with the FBI are true, and he has personal knowledge of Kushner committing treason, then Ivanka can count on seeing her husband in a prison uniform.
After meeting Kushner in December, the Times reports,
Mr. Kislyak asked for a second meeting to “deliver a message,” Ms. Hicks said. Mr. Kushner sent Avrahm Berkowitz, a White House aide and longtime associate. At that session, Mr. Kislyak told Mr. Berkowitz that he wanted Mr. Kushner to meet Mr. Gorkov, the Russian banker, Ms. Hicks said.
As the head of Vnesheconombank, Mr. Gorkov presides over a bank whose supervisory board is controlled by members of Mr. Putin’s government, including Prime Minister Dimitri A. Medvedev. It has been used to bail out oligarchs favored by Mr. Putin, as well as to help fund pet projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Schindler, who was the first major intelligence commentator to say that the Russian influence scandal would sink Donald Trump’s presidency, now says that Gorkov’s bank is even worse than the Times reports.
Of course, we don’t have any direct evidence — yet — that Jared Kushner broke the law, and his administrative portfolio includes foreign relations. But if there is fire in this smoke, Kushner’s conversations could very well be the first real blaze to burst forth and scorch the Trump presidency. Nepotism defines Kushner’s role in the White House, so even the faintest whiff of criminality will inevitably attach to the president.
If there was a quid pro quo for canceled economic sanctions against Russia, then Jared Kushner will know about it. And he is probably screwed.
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