‘person of interest’ not pence after all

Jared Kushner is ‘person of interest in Russia investigation’
Andrew Buncombe, Mythili Sampathkumar, Independent (UK), May 19 2017

Jared Kushner has reportedly been identified as a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation into possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign. The WaPo said a senior adviser to Trump was among people investigators wanted to speak to. A New York magazine reporter then said the person in question was Kushner, who flew out of Washington on Friday night to accompany the President on his first official foreign trip. The WaPo said the person under investigation was close to the President, but did not identify them. However, the number of people who fit such a profile would be very small. Yashar Ali, a contributor to New York magazine said on Twitter:

The White House did not immediately respond to calls and emails from The Independent seeking comment. The Trump Organisation, which controls the President’s financial interests, also did not respond to queries. White House officials have previously acknowledged contacts between Russian officials and Kushner, as well as with Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson. The revelation came just two days after the DoJ announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller had been appointed special counsel to lead the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Reports suggest the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the Post said. It said investigators remained keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.

The report was published as Mr Trump travelled to Toad Land on the first leg of a trip abroad that the White House hopes will shift attention away from the political firestorm triggered by his firing of Comey last week. Comey was previously leading the probe, so his firing and news reports that Trump had previously asked him to stop investigating Flynn led critics to charge that Trump may have improperly sought to hamper the FBI probe. Sean Spicer said in a statement in response to the WaPo report:

As the President has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity.

Separately, the NYT reported on Friday that Trump told Russian officials at a White House meeting last week that firing Comey relieved “great pressure” that the president was facing from the ongoing probe into Russia and the election. According to the NYT, which cited a document summarising the meeting read to the newspaper by an anonymous Pindo boxtop:

I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.

Trump met Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey. Earlier this year, the White House issued a statement saying Kushner had volunteered to testify before the Senate intelligence committee in relation to its Russia investigation. A statement from the Senate intelligence committee:

Mr Kushner will certainly not be the last person the committee calls to give testimony, but we expect him to be able to provide answers to key questions that have arisen in our inquiry.

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