Jul 12, 2017

Jared's judgment: the 3 meetings that worry his allies most

Mike Allen, author of AM

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

In the media, the focus is on the son. In the West Wing, colleagues are watching the son-in-law.

Some colleagues have started to wonder if he and Ivanka will return to New York for this school year, at least a year ahead of plan. But we're told he has made no moves to do that. Others note a change in his demeanor amid the growing Russia probe: less swagger, more concern.

Why it matters: Kushner is the one figure in the Russia probe who helped run the campaign, the transition and the White House. No one has spent more time with Trump throughout the past year — and has seen or knows more.

Several top officials describe Jared Kushner in very similar ways: a good guy with good intentions, now under rising scrutiny because of a combination of naiveté and hubris.

  • He was used to how things were done in business (and New York real estate, no less) — whereas in public life, anything can come out, and everything is under a microscope. This was true for many inside Trump Inc. during the fast-and-loose days of the campaign and transition.
  • "Everything is being treated as bigger than it is, but he's in the big leagues now," said a Republican friendly to Kushner. "He's trying to bravado his way through his lack of experience."

What worries Jared allies are three meetings, with a Russian lawyer (the Don Jr. meeting), banker and diplomat.

  • The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told NBC News' Keir Simmons that Kushner left the meeting after seven to 10 minutes of the 20- to 30-minute meeting. And the reddest flag about the meeting ("part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump") was on the fourth page of the email that Don Jr. forwarded to Jared — subject line, "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential."
  • Jared's defense: Jared has the most impressive legal team of any of the family members, including two of the biggest names in the business, Jamie Gorelick and Abbe Lowell.
  • Gorelick said in a statement: "[D]uring the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional [federal disclosure] updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows."

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