White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said Tuesday that he “never discussed business” with the head of the Russian state investment bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), with whom he met shortly after the 2016 election upon the recommendation of then-Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak.
“We never discussed business together,” Kushner told Time Magazine’s Brian Bennett in an interview, referring to VEB CEO Sergei Gorkov. “I’ve done testimony on this. Everything was unusual at that time. We were an outsider campaign.”
Kushner on December 2016 meeting with Vnesheconombank CEO Sergei Gorkov: “We never discussed business together […] Everything was unusual at that time. We were an outsider campaign.” pic.twitter.com/oiMU06qKkk
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) April 23, 2019
Kushner met with Gorkov on Dec. 13, 2016 upon Kislyak’s urging, days after the first public reports that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia had worked to help Trump’s campaign and hurt Hillary Clinton’s.
Kusher was still serving as chief executive of Kushner Companies at the time, and VEB was (and still is) subject to U.S. sanctions as a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, raising questions as to the purpose of the meeting. Gorkov later said that he met with Kushner in Kushner’s capacity as a CEO.
Kushner’s statement Tuesday is yet another insistence from the senior White House adviser that the meeting was meant to be diplomatic and unrelated to his business.
Based on interviews with Kushner and his assistant Avi Berkowitz, the Mueller report didn’t have much more to add to the story: “Kushner did not, however, recall any discussion during his meeting with Gorkov about the sanctions against VEB or sanctions more generally,” it stated. “Kushner stated in an interview that he did not engage in any preparation for the meeting and that no one on the Transition Team even did a Google search for Gorkov’s name.”
After describing Kushner and Gorkov’s different reads of the meeting, Mueller reported: “The investigation did not resolve the apparent conflict in the accounts of Kushner and Gorkov or determine whether the meeting was diplomatic in nature (as Kushner stated), focused on business (as VEB’s public statement indicated), or whether it involved some combination of those matters or other matters. Regardless, the investigation did not identify evidence that Kushner and Gorkov engaged in any substantive follow-up after the meeting.”
The President tweeted Tuesday that he was pleased with his son-in-law’s performance.
Great interview by Jared. Nice to have extraordinarily smart people serving our Country! https://t.co/d6Tgrn4Tzn
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019