Senate committee to question Jared Kushner over Russia ties


(JTA) — The Senate Intelligence Committee will question Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and an adviser, over his ties to Russian officials.

The committee is looking into meetings that Kushner had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in December during the transition at Trump Tower in New York. The meetings included Michael Flynn, who stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser over his contacts with Russian officials, including Kislyak, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed government officials. Kushner reportedly also arranged a second meeting between Flynn and Kislyak.

Kushner also will face questioning about an unreported meeting he had with the head of a Russian state-owned bank that was under sanctions enacted by the Obama administration over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

White House spokesman Hope Hicks confirmed the meetings to The New York Times.

Hicks also told the newspaper that Kushner was willing to talk to the committee about the meetings, saying, “He isn’t trying to hide anything.”

The arranging of the meeting with the Russian banker came at the same time that American intelligence determined that Russian spies ordered by President Vladimir Putin had attempted to sway the U.S. election in favor of Trump, the newspaper reported.

Kushner is the person closest to the president to be questioned in the investigations and the only one currently serving in the White House, according to the Times.

Committee chair Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the committee’s vice chairman, said in a statement that “Mr. Kushner has volunteered to be interviewed as part of the committee’s investigation into the Russian activities surrounding the 2016 election.”

Meanwhile, the White House announced Sunday night, after a report appeared in the Washington Post, that Kushner would lead a new White House office that would streamline the government, using ideas borrowed from the business world.

The White House Office of Innovation is being given the authority to overhaul government bureaucracy. The initiative was to be formally announced on Monday.

“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” read a statement issued by the White House on Sunday in Trump’s name. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my  ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

Kushner, who is Jewish, told the Washington Post on Sunday: “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”

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