The Jared Kushner Meeting Gets Closer to Quid Pro Quo

Last week, several members of Congress anonymously told the press they had, for the first time, seen evidence that might support charges of collusion between Trump’s associates and the Russians. The frenzied speculation mostly focused on the usual suspects: Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, Roger Stone, or Carter Page (somehow, the frenzied speculation often forgets Trump lawyer Michael Cohen).

Today, the NYT has a story reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to talk to Jared Kushner about a previously undisclosed meeting arranged by Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.

Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.

Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which drew sanctions from the Obama administration after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.

The NYT only notes this obliquely by stating the committee has access to routine intercepts involving the Ambassador, but remember that FBI went through Kislyak’s intercepted communications in hopes of explaining why Vladimir Putin didn’t respond more aggressively to sanctions Obama imposed in December. So SSCI likely discovered this undisclosed meeting that way.

Which is interesting, because Kushner did not reveal it to some senior Trump officials (likely including White House Counsel Don McGahn).

The extent of Mr. Kushner’s interactions with Mr. Kislyak caught some senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House team off guard, in part because he did not mention them last month during a debate then consuming the White House: how to handle the disclosures about Mr. Flynn’s interactions with the Russian ambassador.

Ms. Hicks said that Mr. Trump had authorized Mr. Kushner to have meetings with foreign officials that he felt made sense, and to report back to him if those meetings produced anything of note. She said that because in Mr. Kushner’s view the meetings were inconsequential, it did not occur to him to mention them to senior staff members earlier.

NYT raises the possibility that Kushner discussed his efforts to fund one of his family’s business in NYC, though Hope Hicks claimed it — and the sanctions — did not come up.

But consider how this meeting might interact with another known Kislyak conversation, the multiple calls with Flynn on December 29 after Obama imposed hacking related sanctions. In context, that conversation was about the hacking sanctions, not the more onerous Ukraine ones. But if Kushner had just met with a sanctioned bank and discussed those sanctions, that could change Kislyak’s understanding of what Flynn was saying.

One mistake of a lot of the frenzied speculation is a focus on changing US policy towards Ukraine, a focus not borne out by the public evidence. The result of that focus is to ignore what the Christopher Steele dossier makes clear was the real Russian goal, unsurprisingly: the lifting of the Ukraine-related sanctions.

There still is no evidence that’s what happened at this meeting that Kushner succeeded in hiding from people within the White House. But if it did, then it might amount to far more than all the smoke swirling around Manafort, Page, and Stone.

15 replies
  1. harpie says:

    Jared Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with the CEO of ‘the bank that financed Vladimir Putin’s grandest ambitions  3/27/17

    […] Gorkov, who graduated from the Federal Security Service (FSB) Academy of Russia in 1994, was the vice-president of Russia’s state-controlled Sberbank before joining Vnesheconombank. […] Between 2012 and 2014, Vnesheconombank was used as cover for Russian spy Evgeny Buryakov as he attempted to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Moscow, according to the Department of Justice. […] 

  2. harpie says:

    Angbang pulls out of deal with Kushner family:
    Senators, Please Ask Jared Kushner About 666 Fifth Avenue Opinion 3/29/17 Timothy L. O’Brien 

    In a happy moment in the otherwise cloudy world of the Trump family and the flood of financial conflicts they’ve carted into Washington, a major Chinese investor has decided not to pour billions of dollars into a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the Jared Kushner clan. […] 

    • harpie says:

      More from that article:

      The background: Anbang, an insurer and prolific deal-maker close to China’s government, had considered investing $4 billion in 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner had overpaid for the building in 2007, when he bought it with the help of bank loans for $1.8 billion. The financial crisis ensued, occupancy rates plummeted and Kushner had to be rescued by outside investors to keep the troubled building afloat. Anbang’s investment would have valued the building at a handsome $2.85 billion, and also refinanced about $1.15 billion in debt. […] 

      Bank loans from which banks in 2007? Rescued by whom?

  3. harpie says:

    From the March 27, Business Insider article linked above:

    […] Putin first revamped Vnesheconombank, known as Russia’s bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs, in 2007. The Russian leader turned it into “a pillar of his Kremlin-driven economy at the height of the oil boom” and took “personal control over key lending decisions,” according to Bloomberg, which characterized it as “the bank that financed Vladimir Putin’s grandest ambitions.” […]

    From the June 2016 Bloomberg article linked above:

    Vnesheconombank, which underwrote mega-projects like the Sochi Olympics and secret aid to allies in Ukraine, is dumping assets at fire-sale prices and relying on emergency government assistance to avoid default. It has virtually stopped new lending and cut off financing to most existing projects, according to two people close to the bank. […] Bigger investments will be harder to liquidate. The $8 billion VEB put into long-secret deals for metals assets in Ukraine starting in 2009, for example, is still being traced by the new management. […]
    [In 2007 Putin had] pumped tens of billions of dollars into it and took personal control over key lending decisions. Fueled by government support and easy credit from U.S. and European markets, VEB’s assets grew more than seven-fold to more than 4 trillion rubles as Putin channeled the funds into high-profile projects and bailouts too risky for other banks. […]

    • harpie says:

      Metals…like aluminum?
      From Tim Fernholtz: A recent history of Russia’s efforts to buy influence in US politics 9/5/14

      Oleg Deripaska is one of the richest men in Russia, an oligarch who assembled his fortune during Russia’s post-USSR “aluminum wars,” an intense battle for the state’s industrial resources.

      According to Fernholtz, a Visa for Deripaska to travel on business to the US was denied in 2006, because of alleged mob-ties. That’s what David Corn writes about in Paul Manafort Tried to Help Russian Oligarch Suspected of Mob Ties [Deripaska] Get a US Visa 3/22/17 at Mother Jones.

      • harpie says:

        According to AP’s 3/22/17 Manafort’s Plan to “greatly benefit” the Putin Government 

        […] Deripaska became one of Russia’s wealthiest men under Putin, buying assets abroad in ways widely perceived to benefit the Kremlin’s interests. U.S. diplomatic cables from 2006 [published by Wikileaks] described him as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis” and “a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad.”

  4. harpie says:

    According to the 3/27/17 BI article:

    […] In February [2016], Putin installed the new management team. Chief Executive Officer Sergey Gorkov, a veteran of Sberbank, another big state bank, is crafting a strategy for what he’s calling “VEB 2.0” to be released at the end of this month.
    “More alive than dead,” was how he characterized the bank’s state in April. He declined a request for an interview. He’s scheduled to speak at this week’s [June 2016] St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on a panel entitled, in part, “Realizing Ambitions.” 

    [According to this article that came out today in the Washington Post,: Who is ‘Source D’? The man said to be behind the Trump-Russia dossier’s most salacious claim. 3/29/17, there seems to be a photo of Gorkov at that St. Petersburg Forum with the alleged “Source D”].
    Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov took place in December.

    • harpie says:

      Also from that WaPo article [the year 2007, again]:

      [Millian] told the Russian state-operated news agency RIA Novosti last April, for instance, that he met Trump at a Miami horse-racing track after “mutual associates” had organized a trip for Trump to Moscow in 2007. […] “You can say that I was their exclusive broker,” Millian continued in Russian. “Back then, in 2007-2008, Russians by the dozens were buying apartments in Trump’s buildings in the U.S.A. […] [Atty. Michael] Cohen said he did not believe Trump was in Russia in 2007, as Millian claimed in April.

  5. harpie says:

    2007, again:
    NBC News EXCLUSIVE 3/28/17 Manafort-Linked Accounts on Cyprus Raised Red Flag 

    […] Manafort — whose ties to a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin [Deripaska?] are under scrutiny — was associated with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies on Cyprus, dating back to 2007, the sources said. At least one of those companies was used to receive millions of dollars from a billionaire Putin ally, according to court documents. […]

  6. harpie says:

    Feb. 2016-Putin installs aluminum magnate Sergey Gorkov as CEO of the struggling Vnesheconombank
    May 2016-Paul Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign manager and chief stratagist
    June 2016– St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Gorkov speaks. Dossier “Source D” Millian has photo op with Gorkov
    June 2016 Manafort sends Carter Page to Moscow to give a speech [6/7]; where he secretly meets with Igor Sechin [6/9]
    August 19, 2016-Manafort resigns amid reports that his name emerged in a secret ledger in Ukraine listing off-the-books payments for consulting work he did for a Russian-backed government there
    September 26, 2016-Carter Page takes leave of absence from campaign
    December 2016-Kushner meets with Gorkov [arranged by Kislyak]
    December 7, 2016-Roseneft signs deal selling 19.5% of its shares to unknown buyers 
    December 8, 2016-Page travels to Moscow to meet with “top managers” of Roseneft

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