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Trump Son-in-Law Denies Collusion With Moscow

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 24, 2017, to meet behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and one of his close advisers, says he met with Russian officials four times during last year's presidential campaign and its aftermath, but did not collude with them or any other foreign governments.

Kushner released an 11-page statement Monday ahead of his closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and another planned session Tuesday in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Both congressional panels are examining Russia's meddling in last year's U.S. election.

"The record and documents I am providing will show that I had perhaps four contacts with Russian representatives out of thousands during the campaign and transition, none of which were impactful in any way to the election or particularly memorable," Kushner wrote.

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He further described several brief meetings with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., saying they discussed a desire to improve U.S.-Russia relations, but he denied media reports that he and Sergey Kislyak had further conversations by phone.

The congressional committees are expected to seek information about Kushner's Russia contacts, including a June 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney and other figures connected to Moscow.

Russia probe focus

U.S. investigators have focused on the meeting since the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., released emails expressing eagerness for what he believed the Russian attorney would provide: incriminating material about Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 election opponent.

Kushner's statement came as President Trump lashed out in new Twitter comments at the Russia investigations consuming his presidency.

He questioned why congressional committees, investigators and "beleaguered" Attorney General Jeff Sessions are not "looking into" Clinton's "crimes & Russia relations."

Trump last week rebuked Sessions for removing himself from overseeing the Justice Department's Russia investigation, which led to the appointment of an independent special prosecutor by Sessions' deputy.

Trump branded the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee as "Sleazy Adam Schiff," calling him "the totally biased Congressman looking into 'Russia,' spends all of his time on television pushing the Dem loss excuse!"

In another tweet, Trump said, "After 1 year of investigation with Zero evidence being found" of collusion between his campaign and Russia, a leading Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, said, "Democrats should blame ourselves, not Russia," a paraphrase of remarks Schumer made about last year's election in a Sunday interview.

Trump complained, as he has in the past, about forces aligned against him in Washington and the mainstream news media, saying, "Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer - it's actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!"

From left, President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
From left, President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Trump Jr, Manafort testimony postponed

The younger Trump and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who also attended the meeting, were initially scheduled to appear this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But that testimony has been postponed based on an understanding that the two men will provide the committee with records and other information.

Kushner said in his statement that while he was in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York, there was no discussion of the election campaign, and that he "quickly determined that my time was not well-spent in this meeting."

With the Russia investigations now scrutinizing those closest to Trump, questions have arisen about possible presidential pardons. Trump's legal team noted the Constitution grants the president broad pardoning powers, but insisted that nothing is being contemplated.

“We’re not researching the issue because the issue of pardons is not on the table,” one of the president’s attorneys, Jay Sekulow, said on ABC’s "This Week program." “There’s nothing to pardon from.”

FILE - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to members of the media.
FILE - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to members of the media.

At the same time, the White House insisted the news media’s focus on the Russia probe is misguided.

“The top three issues that Americans care about are immigration, health care, and jobs,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday, also on "This Week." “The top three issues that the media cares about are Russia, Russia, and Russia.”

Lawmakers of both political parties are also having their say. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, took to Twitter to urge full disclosure of a leaked U.S. intelligence intercept of Kislyak relaying to Moscow an account of an alleged conversation with then-senator Jeff Sessions, a Trump campaign supporter and now attorney general. Kislyak reported that he had discussed Trump's presidential campaign with Sessions.

Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, has assailed any preemptive presidential pardons of those under investigation in the Russia probe.

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