New Details Emerge In Timeline Of Don. Jr Meeting, Kushner’s Foreign Contacts

Patrick Semansky/AP
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A new report out Thursday from Yahoo News added new details to the timelines of when people close to the President knew about his son Donald Trump, Jr.’s now-infamous meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer and when Jared Kushner disclosed foreign contacts he’d omitted from his security clearance application.

The President’s private lawyers were notified more than three weeks ago about emails setting up a June 2016 meeting between his eldest son and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who claimed to have incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

The President has given an inconsistent timeline for when he learned about the meeting. He told reporters on Wednesday that he only heard about it “two or three days ago” before acknowledging that it might have been “mentioned at some point” previously. By Trump’s account, he learned about the rendezvous between Veselnitskaya, Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort from his son, and he was informed only this week that the meeting’s purpose was to obtain dirt on Clinton.

It’s unclear if Trump’s legal team concealed the meeting from their client after they were informed about it in the third week of June, or if the President is not being upfront about when he learned about it.

A spokesman for Trump’s chief lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, declined Yahoo’s request for comment, saying the matter involved “privileged information.”

This new wrinkle vastly complicates the narrative laid out by the President. When the New York Times first reported on the meeting last weekend, his outside legal team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, released a statement implying that it had been a set-up by Russian operatives who had worked with Democrats. Donald Trump, Jr. initially claimed that the participants only discussed “the adoption of Russian children” and made no mention of the presidential campaign.

The Times later reported that Trump Jr.’s statement had been crafted by White House advisers who debated how forthcoming to be, and that Trump himself signed off on it. After Trump Jr. belatedly acknowledged that he went to the meeting in hopes of obtaining information about Clinton, Corallo released a new statement saying only: “The President was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”

The Yahoo story also provided critical new details about Kushner’s application for a top-secret security clearance, or SF-86, which helped bring the meeting to light.

While reviewing documents in preparation for Kushner’s testimony before Congress, his lawyers discovered the email chain that arranged the meeting. They immediately moved on June 21 to amend his SF-86 for the second time to include his contact with Veselnitskaya, and informed Trump’s legal team around the same time, according to Yahoo.

Kushner initially omitted all of his foreign contacts on the SF-86 he submitted on Jan. 18, and later had to file three separate supplemental disclosures. The first was on May 11, when Yahoo reported he listed over 100 meetings with officials from over 20 countries, including the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and the CEO of a Russian state-owned bank. The FBI, which approves security clearances, interviewed Kushner about the matter in mid-May, according to Yahoo.

The White House adviser was interviewed by the FBI a second time on June 23, two days after updating his application to include the Veselnitskaya meeting.

Kushner’s lawyers have insisted he accidentally left his meetings with foreign government officials off his initial application, telling Yahoo a member of his staff prematurely hit the “send” button on the form before it was completed.

Susan Hennessey, a former attorney at the National Security Agency’s office of general counsel, wrote on Twitter that this defense didn’t make sense because SF-86 forms are either submitted by hand or require a multi-step verification process if submitted electronically.

The e-file form details a 28-step process to submit an investigation request.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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