Unlike Trump Jr., Kushner was quick to dispel the idea he attended the meeting because of the type of information purportedly promised. “No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted,” he said, adding that he had included the meeting in his security-clearance form before it was reported in the media.
Kushner also disclosed that he received an email on October 30, 2016, from the screen name “Guccifer400.” “This email, which I interpreted as a hoax, was an extortion attempt and threatened to reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 bitcoins in exchange for not publishing that information,” Kushner noted. “I brought the email to the attention of a U.S. Secret Service agent on the plane we were all travelling on and asked what he thought. He advised me to ignore it and not to reply—which is what I did. The sender never contacted me again.”
Kushner provided details of his first encounter with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. He said he was introduced to Kislyak, who has emerged as a key figure in the allegations surrounding Trump’s campaign aides and Russia, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., in April 2016, when Trump was delivering a foreign-policy speech. Kushner said he was introduced to Kislyak by Dimitri Simes, the publisher of The National Interest, and that the Russian ambassador was among several guests, including four other ambassadors. The encounter did not extend beyond “brief pleasantries,” Kushner said.
Kislyak then contacted him, he said, on November 16, 2016, after the presidential election, requesting a meeting via Kushner’s assistant. Kushner said he could not recall the name of the Russian envoy whom he had met seven months earlier. Kushner said the meeting was set up for December 1, two weeks later; it occurred at Trump Tower and lasted 20 to 30 minutes. Michael Flynn, who was briefly Trump’s national-security adviser before he resigned over undisclosed meetings with the Russians, was also present, Kushner said.
“I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President,” Kushner said. “The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.”
Kushner said their conversation centered on Syria. Kislyak, he said, wanted to convey information from his “generals” and asked if there was a secure line in the transition office through which they could conduct a conversation. Kushner told him no such line existed, but because he “believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” Kushner asked if there was such a secure line at the Russian Embassy.