WH, Kremlin Not On Same Page About Why Kushner Met With Russian Bank CEO

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March 28, 2017 3:39 p.m.

Did Jared Kushner’s recently disclosed meeting during the Trump transition with the head of a Russian state-owned bank concern business or politics? Depends who you ask.

All participating parties agree that Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, spoke with Sergey N. Gorkov, CEO of Vnesheconombank and close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

While the bank and the Kremlin said Kushner held the talks in his capacity as the head of his family’s real estate empire, Kushner Companies, the Trump administration struck a different note, saying Kushner was acting as a campaign surrogate at the time.

In a Tuesday statement to Reuters, Vnesheconombank, which was sanctioned under the Obama administration, said that executives held roadshow meetings “with a number of representatives of the largest banks and business establishments of the United States, including Jared Kushner, the head of Kushner Companies.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also played down the meeting, telling the Associated Press that “it was ordinary business,” and that the Kremlin was unaware of the meeting before it occurred.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had offered a different characterization in his daily Monday press briefing. He called Kushner “the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials” during “the campaign and the transition,” suggesting the meeting was political in nature.

The exact context of that meeting is likely to come up when Kushner interviews with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s interference into the presidential election.

Spicer said Kushner volunteered to interview “given this role” as the Trump campaign’s broker for international relations.

Kushner divested assets and resigned as CEO of Kushner Companies and as publisher of the New York Observer before joining the Trump administration. He retains some real estate holdings associated with his family’s real estate business, however.

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