President Trump's son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner released a rare public statement Monday ahead of expected Congressional testimony, denying that he colluded with Russia during Trump's campaign and calling the meeting hehad with a Russia-linked attorney a "waste of our time."
In a prepared statement to the committees obtained by Fox News, Kushner laid out his dealings with foreign leaders and said none constitute campaign collusion.
“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” reads a section of his statement. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form [security clearance], above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.”
Kushner detailed four contacts he had with Russians during the presidential campaign and transition.
“Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time ..."
“With respect to my contacts with Russia or Russian representatives during the campaign, there were hardly any,” he said in the statement, before recalling when he was at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April 2016, when his father-in-law delivered a speech on foreign policy and he was introduced to four ambassadors at the event, which included then Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
“With all the ambassadors, including Mr. Kislyak, we shook hands, exchanged brief pleasantries and I thanked them for attending the event and said I hoped they would like candidate Trump’s speech and his ideas for a fresh approach to America’s foreign policy,” Kushner recalled. “The ambassadors also expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election. Each exchange lasted less than a minute; some gave me their business cards and invited me to lunch at their embassies. I never took them up on any of these invitations and that was the extent of the interactions.”
Kushner denied reports he took two calls with Kislyak between April and November 2016.
“I had no ongoing relationship with the ambassador before the election, and had limited knowledge about him then. In fact, on Nov. 9, the day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian ambassador,” he said.
In the statement, Kushner detailed the June 2016 meeting with a Russian-American lawyer, news of which emerged ealier this month and gave new momentum to Democrat claims the Trump administration secretly worted with the Kremlin to game the election.
“I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting,” he recalls in the statement. “Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote "Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting."
“I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently.”
Emails released this month show Donald Trump Jr. accepted the meeting at Trump Tower with the idea that he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But Kushner says he hadn't seen those emails until he was recently shown them by his lawyers. Kushner says in his statement that Trump Jr. invited him to the meeting.
The release of the statement comes just hours before he is to be interviewed by a Senate committee investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion by Trump associates.
The interview with the Senate intelligence committee will be behind closed doors.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.