The Latest on Trump/Russia

News broke last Friday that the President’s son-in-law and close advisor, Jared Kushner, is under scrutiny by the FBI for attempting to set up a back channel to Russia. That news received so much attention that some may have missed that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has also become a focus of Congressional investigations. Important facts about Cohen’s situation:

  • Cohen rejected a request by the Senate Intelligence Committee to provide information and testimony related to the Russia scandal.
  • Cohen is one of Trump’s closest confidants and has been closely involved in Trump’s business ventures in Russia.

Summary of what we know about Kushner’s situation:

  • In December, Kushner and former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, considered by many to be Russia’s top spy in the U.S., and Kushner proposed opening a secret backchannel for communications with the Kremlin that would evade U.S. authorities’ monitoring.
  • While the White House has attempted to normalize Kushner’s backchannel proposal, leading national security experts – including the former heads of the CIA and NSA – have agreed that it was highly inappropriate.
  • At the Russian ambassador’s request, Kushner also met with the CEO of a U.S.-sanctioned, Russian state-owned bank that has close ties to Russian intelligence.  Investigators are reportedly looking closely at whether Kushner and the bank CEO discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
  • Kushner did not report either of these meetings on his security clearance application. At a minimum, Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked until the investigation has concluded.

Breaking news this afternoon:  Mike Flynn, fired National Security Advisor, of last summer’s “Lock Her Up” fame, has agreed to turn over some documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And, this morning the New York Times ran an interesting article profiling the four Republicans who are said to be pushing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s work: Susan Collins, James Lankford, Roy Blunt, and Marco Rubio.

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