President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser Jared Kushner has inadvertently produced a stunningly effective counternarrative to the allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the election in the former reality television star’s favor.
In response to a question asked during a private meeting with White House interns, Kushner joked that the shambolic Trump campaign was too disorganized and incompetent to pull off such a remarkable coup.
“They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices,” Kushner told congressional interns during a private talk at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington on Monday afternoon. The remarks were first reported by the magazine Foreign Policy, which was provided a transcription of Kushner’s remarks by an unnamed source.
The legal ramifications of Kushner's remarks weren't lost on Foreign Policy, which noted that Kushner’s characterization of the campaign could lay the foundation for an effective defense should Special Counsel Robert Mueller decide to pursue criminal charges.
“For investigators attempting to determine whether Trump’s associates knowingly worked with Russia to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a defense claiming chaos and confusion might be the key difference between criminal behavior and incompetence.”
It might even be enough to satisfy Congressional investigators who’re looking into Kushner’s role in a June 2016 meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. and UK publicist Ron Goldstone where the Trump was promised compromising material on Hillary Clinton, but instead received a pitch about repealing the Magnitsky Act. Kushner reportedly left the meeting after ten minutes, and claims he didn’t see the exchange about what Trump has described as an attempt to procure “opposition research” in an email chain forwarded to Kushner’s blackberry.
Kushner answered a question about Mueller’s investigation, though he appeared reluctant to speak in detail, essentially answering with a shrug.
“After his talk, Kushner answered questions from interns on issues including the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia and his SF-86 clearance forms.
“We don’t know where it’s going,” he said, when asked about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.”
Kushner also played down the many absences in his foreign travel and contacts disclosure form while applying for a security clearance. Kushner has previously said that the omissions were caused by a miscommunication between himself and one of his assistants. Kushner has since updated those forms multiple times to include meetings that were highlighted in media accounts.
“’There are 127 pages on the SF-86, but there are only two you guys have to worry about,’ he said. ‘Make sure you guys keep track of where you travel.’
Kushner said he didn’t track contacts because he didn’t expect to get into politics, though he worked on his father-in-law’s campaign from the early stages.”
According to FP, Kushner also bragged about Trump’s freeing of an Egyptian-American nonprofit worker who was being held in Cairo. The worker, Aya Hijazi, was freed after Trump publicly embraced Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“Kushner said they made a ‘great deal’ with Sisi, who had ‘basically destroyed the Muslim Brotherhood,” by taking him aside and asking for a better arrangement.’”
Ironically, the account of Kushner’s remarks was leaked even after the intern director warned those present not to leak the contents of the speech, was meant to be off the record. The director had apparently heard a rumor that some of the attendees wanted to hand over notes to their congressional offices, which may have leaked them to journalists.
“I’m a lot more comfortable talking to you guys today ’cause there isn’t any press,” Kushner said.
It’s truly unfortunate that Trump fired Anthony Scaramucci before he could clean house at the White House internship program.