Jun 3, 2017

Kushner and the Kremlin: How the FBI probe got to Jared

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

From undisclosed meetings with a Putin-allied banker to the suggestion of secret backchannels using Russian communication equipment, the past week's headlines have gotten increasingly dire for Jared Kushner.

How we got here:
  • March 27: Kushner's meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, and Sergey Gorkov, a Russian banker known for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence agencies, come under Senate scrutiny, according to a NYT report.
  • April 6: The NYT reports that Kushner's Kislyak and Gorkov meetings weren't included on his security clearance forms.
  • May 10: Kushner advocated that President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey, the figurehead of the federal government's Russia investigation, per the NYT.
  • May 18: According to an NYT report, Kushner urged Trump to "counterattack" over the appointment of former FBI Director Bob Mueller as special counsel in the Russia investigation.
  • May 19: A Washington Post report says that a "senior White House advisor" is a "significant person of interest" in the federal government's Russia investigation.
  • May 24: Kushner leaves Trump's foreign trip early, though a White House official states that was always the plan.
  • May 25: After persistent rumblings in the Twittersphere, The Washington Post confirms that the senior White House advisor from its May 19 report is Kushner.
  • May 26: The big one — The Washington Post reports that Kushner wanted to establish a secret backchannel with the Russians using Russian equipment during the transition, a suggestion that left Kislyak "taken aback."
  • May 27: Reuters reports that Kushner had at least three undisclosed contacts with Kislyak both before and after the campaign.
  • May 29: The NYT reports that Kushner's December meeting with Gorkov might have been an attempt to set up a secret backchannel with Putin.
  • June 1: The Washington Post reports that flight data suggests Gorkov's next visit after meeting with Kushner was Japan, where Vladimir Putin was visiting at the time.
  • June 2: ABC News reports that Democratic lawmakers are suggesting Kushner's Russian contacts could be the result of debt obligations on a skyscraper he'd purchased in Manhattan during the real estate boom.
The reactions:

A normally chatty and combative White House has been largely radio silent on the Kushner drama with senior administration officials like National Economic Director Gary Cohn and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster refusing to comment when asked directly about the matter in press briefings. Some things we do know:

  • Heading home? The NYT reported on Saturday that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, "have made no long-term commitment to remain by Trump's side" and would review a move back to New York every six months.
  • Trump to the NYT on Sunday: "Jared is doing a great job for the country. I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person."
  • Keep his head down: NBC News reported on Tuesday that some White House officials think Kushner should "lay low" as a result of the Russia furor.
  • Meanwhile on Twitter...Trump retweeted an anonymously-sourced, non-bylined report from Fox News stating that the Kislyak first broached the idea of a secret backchannel — not Kushner.

Go deeper

Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,225,360 — Total deaths: 66,542 — Total recoveries: 252,615Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 312,249 — Total deaths: 8,503 — Total recoveries: 15,021Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August." Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: The Louisiana governor warned that his state is set to run out of ventilators in four days. Illinois governor claims Trump doesn't understand the word "federal."
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Work update: Employees still going to work are often facing temperature checks, distanced work stations, protective devices and mass absences.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Illinois governor: "The president does not understand the word 'federal'"

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump's comments about the federal government's stockpile of medical equipment suggest he "does not understand the word 'federal.'"

Why it matters: White House adviser Jared Kushner argued at a press briefing last week that the "notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use."