White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told a group of interns that President Donald Trump’s campaign team couldn’t have colluded with Russia because they “couldn’t even collude with our local offices.”
The comments were revealed to Foreign Policy by a source present for the private, off-the-record discussion before a group of congressional interns in Washington, DC on Monday.
“They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices,” Kushner told the group.
Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, additionally told the interns that the administration doesn’t “know where” special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump team colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election is “going.”
The top aide to Trump mentioned his failure to report more than 100 contacts on his security clearance form, which has since been updated multiple times, telling the interns that “there are only two” pages on the form “you guys have to worry about.”
“Make sure you guys keep track of where you travel,” he said.
The interns were under strict warning not to leak the comments to the media, and Kushner said he was “a lot more comfortable talking to you guys today ’cause there isn’t any press.”
Just ahead of Kushner’s talk, Katie Patru, a top congressional staffer, told the assembled interns, “To record today’s session would be such a breach of trust, from my opinion,” Wired reported.
“This town is full of leakers and everyone knows who they are, and no one trusts them,” she continued. “In this business your reputation is everything, I’ve been on the hill for 15 years. I’ve sat in countless meetings with members of Congress where important decisions were being made. During all those years in all those meetings, I never once leaked to a reporter. …. If someone in your office has asked you to break our protocol and give you a recording so they can leak it, as a manager, that bothers me at my core.”
Wired obtained a recording of Kushner’s discussion, which the publication said lasted for roughly one hour. The recording contained comments Kushner made about some of the administration’s objectives for the Middle East, which Kushner holds vast influence over.
Speaking specifically about recent tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, Kushner asked “what do we offer that’s unique” in finding an agreement between the two groups.
“So, what do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know… I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically,” Kushner said. “We’re thinking about what the right end state is. And we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.”
Listen to Wired’s audio:
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