Donald Trump’s utility infielder, his son-in-law and de facto Secretary of State Jared Kushner, seems to have a memory problem. Or maybe like his father-in-law, he has a lying problem. Or is it just arrogant indifference to complying with the law?
The New York Times reports that this Trump princeling Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms. Oops! Did I forget to mention that?
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.
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. [What he should have done initially.] 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. [There should have been a log maintained of each meeting.] … 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.
Vnesheconombank is a target of American sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine. It is controlled by members of President Vladimir V. Putin’s government, including Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev, and has been used to bail out oligarchs favored by Mr. Putin and to fund pet projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Mr. Kushner has said he did not discuss sanctions with Mr. Gorkov, the Russian banker. Mr. Gorkov declined to comment on the subject of whether sanctions were discussed.
Maybe they discussed some sweet Russian oligarch money to finance the Princeling’s troubled “Kushner Tower.” Jared Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with the CEO of ‘the bank that financed Vladimir Putin’s grandest ambitions’:
Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov, the struggling bank’s CEO, came as Kushner was trying to find investors for a Fifth Avenue office building in Manhattan that is set to be heavily financed by Anbang Insurance Group, a firm with ties to the Chinese government.
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Times on Monday that the “Kushner Tower” project wasn’t discussed during his meeting with Gorkov, and a White House official said in a statement that Kushner took the meetings as part of his role as “the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials.
“White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Times on Monday that the “The meeting did not appear to break any rules, and Hicks said it was “not much of a conversation” so didn’t warrant a disclosure to the rest of the Trump transition team.
So says Hope Hicks, who is no better than “Baghdad Sean” Spicer with the truth.
Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he oversees research in Washington and Moscow on Russia, noted that Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov was a “very odd choice of interlocutors…Vneshekonombank (VEB) is not just any old sanctioned Russian entity.”
“VEB (formerly chaired by Putin himself) is Russian government’s primary vehicle for special funding of key projects,” Weiss added.
Jared Kushner is a righteous dude who always puts the best interests of his country ahead of his own desire to make a profit. Yeah, right. If you believe that, I have a Trump hotel in Azerbaijan to sell you (ask Ivanka about that deal). Let’s wait to see what the intelligence agencies provide to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
In the meantime, this Trump princeling should not have a security clearance to act as the de facto Secretary of State until he fully complies with the law.