The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has confirmed that Jared Kushner, son-in-law and a top adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, will testify voluntarily in connection with its probe of alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The meetings took place “in the format of a strategy development roadshow”, the agency said.
A U.S. Senate committee investigating suspected Russian interference in the election wants to interview Trump associates, including Kushner, 36, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and has agreed to testify.
Kushner previously acknowledged meeting the Russian ambassador to Washington last December and only on Monday did it emerge that executives of Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) had talks with Kushner during a bank roadshow last year.
Allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian actors were behind hacking of senior Democratic Party operatives and spreading disinformation linger over Trump’s young presidency. Democrats charge the Russians wanted to tilt the election toward the Republican, a claim dismissed by Trump. Russia denies the allegations.
But there has been no doubt that the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, developed contacts among the Trump team. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign on Feb. 13 after revelations that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Kislyak and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
U.S. officials said that after meeting with Russian Kislyak at Trump Tower last December, a meeting also attended by Flynn, Kushner met later in December with Sergei Gorkov, chairman of Vnesheconombank.
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed the meetings, saying nothing of consequence was discussed.
VEB, aside from being under sanctions, has been grappling with bad debt after financing politically expedient projects such as construction for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
It received 150 billion rubles (more than 2 billion euros) in support from the Russian budget in 2016, when its senior management was sacked and replaced by a team of executives from Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank.
Simply meeting with representatives of a U.S.-sanctioned entity is not a violation of sanctions or against the law.